May 24, 2011

Something I didn't know about Taxi Driver

I'm reading Greil Marcus' new book on Bob Dylan, Writings 1968-2010 -- oh yeah, happy birthday, Bob -- and there's a reprint of a Marcus feature on The Last Waltz, first published in New West. The year is 1978; Marcus is at Scorsese's house in the Hollywood Hills, a house that "instantly announces itself as the home of a film-maker" (a ton of movie posters, a small Catholic triptych). Anyway ...
Scorsese has put on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, and we're simply listening. It's an album of transcendence: transcendence of childhood fears, adult sins. "Madame George" comes on -- "That's the song," Scorsese murmurs. I can't help telling him he's picked my favourite record of all time, but he's way ahead of me. "I based the first 15 minutes of Taxi Driver on Astral Weeks," Scorsese says, "and that's a movie about a man who hates music." I mentally scurry to recover images of the film so I can figure out what Scorsese means; he must be talking about the sense of doom, or anyway fate, that Morrison insists on.