Off the Charts: Song-Poem Story

For ordering information please go to the Shout! Factory Web Site


Off-Beat Documentary Opens A Window Onto The Parallel Universe of Do-It-Yourself Singer-Song Writers, Recently Featured In The New York Times

Alisse Kingsley
Rachel Dierks
Muse Media
(818) 506-7905

Burbank, California. -October 30 - “Off The Charts: The Song-Poem Story” a feature-length documentary about the sometimes unsettling but always fascinating world of the song-poem industry, has been acquired for DVD distribution in the U.S. early next year by Shout! Factory, the Los Angeles-area based entertainment company specializing in alternative and retro pop culture television and music programming. “Off The Charts: The Song-Poem Story” is set for release on January 27th. “Off The Charts” tracks the song-poem saga from the come-on ads buried in the backs of magazines, to the hopeful (and often hysterical) poetry submissions, to the weary studio musicians who churn out tunes, it’s impossible not to end up with a genuine affection for this absorbing, often hilarious and oddly poignant subculture. The DVD release contains many behind-the-scenes extras, including the Sunburst Studio sessions (songs being recorded); deleted scenes (too weird for the documentary), the Off The Charts premiere party (for the PBS broadcast), a Song-Poem ad gallery tour narrated by Phil Milstein, Curator of the American Song-Poem Archives, and the Song-Poem Variety Show: “America Sings” (a full 12 hour local access/infomercial show—that is not to be believed).

Like a warped fun-house mirror, the song-poem industry has run parallel to the mainstream music business for close to a century; it's estimated that over 200,000 song-poems have been recorded since 1900. The subculture was highlighted recently in a feature story in the New York Times, and the film itself aired nationally on PBS in February.

The genre's durability can be traced to three American desires - to be in show business, to get rich quick and to share and express the deepest of feelings. In the film, several of the "songwriters" are introduced - from an elderly woman to a young African American man to a small-town Iowan with big-time dreams - each of whom has been in the "business" for a while, churning out odd compositions that cover the waterfront of American obsessions, from Jesus to genitalia, from politics to Elvis. The film also features the producers (often known as "song-sharks") who hold out the tantalizing promise of fame to their eager customers, and the has-been musicians who sit in studios, day after day, year after year, interpreting some of the weirdest lyrics ever written.

As filmmaker Jamie Meltzer says, "The beauty of song-poems is that they are a result of the intersection, or collision, of ordinary people's expressions and the desires of musicians/businesses to make a quick buck, making the music as fast as they can, usually in one take. When those two forces combine, they create strangely compelling songs that are unlike anything you've ever heard."

Shout Factory! is a multi-platform integrated entertainment company that was started by Richard Foos – co-founder of Rhino Records, Bob Emmer – former Warner Music Group and Rhino executive and Garson Foos – former Rhino executive. It focuses on audio music catalog development and home video/DVD projects and television properties. Conceived as a broad-based retro pop culture and entertainment label, Shout! Factory video and DVD projects range from live music and music documentary programs to offbeat special interest titles ranging from animation to sports content.

DVD Title: “Off The Charts: The Song-Poem Story
Selection # DVD 30360