Through the ages, music has been and is more than ever, so many things to so many people. In “Good Vibrations,” this narrative that made its U.S. debut at SXSW 2013, tells the true story of a moment in time during The Troubles in Belfast, and how one man’s fervor for music helped to bridge the lines in a highly divided and violent city in Northern Ireland.
In 1970s Belfast, Terri Hooley once enjoyed a circle of friends from all walks of life, all accepting of each other. When the turmoil emerged in the late 60s, there were only two walks; his Catholic friends and Protestant friends. Not choosing sides, he became an enemy of both.
So how can he as one person bring community back to Belfast? His record collection and his “one love” inspiration from Reggae. While Hooley is shown to not always make the best busies decisions, given his ‘just do it’ personality, he was tenacious and voracious.
Hooley made his Good Vibrations record store a reality, and right in the thick of it all on Great Victoria Street, the first new business to emerge in many years. One day a teenager came into the store asking if Good Vibrations carried a number of punk rock bands, including the Buzzcocks. When the Hooley knew of none of them, the kid called Hooley out for not having a proper record store, schooling this musical aficionado that John Peel at BBC had dropped his focus on the likes of Led Zepplin in exchange for becoming a proponent of this new genre.
In that thirst for musical knowledge, Hooley and his nervous friend (who also did his best to steer the proprietor towards more sensible accounting practices, without much success) made their way to a sketchy part of town to a punk rock club, where as they say, the rest is history.
At The Pound, Hooley’s eyes and ears were opened to this music founded on passion and defiance, something that was deep within his own DNA. For us music fanatics, we all have memories of times when at a show, we have been overtaken by emotion, taken over by the sheer joy in sharing a musical experience as a whole, as a group. “Good Vibrations” captured that moment for Hooley in such a fantastic way, made even better by actor Richard Dormer, transforming a movie watcher into a fellow music freak being pulled to jump out of your seat and dance along to the punk celebration.
Realistically, if you were to look up the origin of the ethic, “that’s so punk rock,” a picture of Terri Hooley would appear along side it.
All along the way, Hooley put music before everything, including his financial health and the health of his marriage. “Good Vibrations” also spotlights the other players in the story, including his supportive and empathetic wife with a lot more patience than most women, given similar situations.
The screening of this film at SXSW happens within the perfect scenario of both film and music fanatics, where we cheer for the unsung hero on the big screen and rock out in our seats to the film’s story and soundtrack. “Good Vibrations” lives up to the film’s title, showcasing the unbridled joy music gives us all.
In addition to our hope that “Good Vibrations” secures distribution here in the states, next on the wish list would be the release of the accompanying soundtrack with a deluxe edition of vinyl and photos from the film and from that time. I would buy that in a heartbeat…along with a ticket to see the film a second time, a third time…