“I made a 60-minute video of my original music, set to footage from the original Twilight Zone and subtitled with the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche,” says Grant Clarkson of his jazz-rock DVD Ever So Much Fun. The electric/acoustic bassist named the visual operetta after a line in the 1960 Zone episode “The After Hours,” with Anne Francis as a department-store shopper who discovers that (spoiler alert) she is a mannequin.
“Being a lifelong Twilight Zone fan, I decided to put in a few little bits of dialogue from various other episodes into the songs,” says Clarkson. “All the bits of spoken word fit into this two-act play I was working on, telling a Zone-ish kind of time-travel story. But who wants to produce a play? Why not just put Zone footage against the music and see how it fits?”
As Clarkson matched music to video on his computer (“I used iMovie; it was a bitch”), the one-time philosophy student had another inspiration.
“Why not have Nietzsche’s writings as subtitles for the narrative? His big idea of eternal recurrence is central to this story. Basically, it’s the idea that all your life and all your choices will repeat over and over again…because of this, all your creative contributions to the universe are, in a sense, indestructible.”
The resulting 18-track music video unfolds its sci-fi narrative using scenes from several dozen Twilight Zones, opening to the strains of “Come Wander with Me,” a tune central to one well-regarded episode of the series. The DVD cover was provided by Anne Francis herself, inscribed with her line from “The After Hours” that serves as the project title.
Ever So Much Fun is available at filmbaby.com/films/3380.
DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC.
“I do ridiculously long instrumental cuts, usually starting with improvising on drums and bass, and then I attempt to be a ‘composer’ by rounding it out from there.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
1) “Christian McBride.”
2) “Tierney Sutton.”
3) “Diana Krall.”
4) “The original cast recording of West Side Story.”
5) “Some Bernard Herrmann scores from Alfred Hitchcock movies.”
WHERE DO YOU TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN VISITORS?
1) “Cabrillo National Monument.”
2) “The Park Manor.”
WHAT WOULD YOUR GRADE-SCHOOL TEACHER SAY ABOUT YOU?
“That I stared out the window a lot and seemed mildly contemptuous of their authority.”
WHAT SONG BEST DESCRIBES YOUR LIFE?
“Any tune that embraced melancholy and confusion in some pathetically romantic and grandiose way.”
BEST BASSIST: JACO PASTORIUS OR STANLEY CLARKE?
“I got turned on to both of them on the same day by the high school jazz-band elders, back when I was a stupid punk. Gotta say Stanley — he seems to let more daylight in. I couldn’t relate to Jaco’s dark East Coast bebop tone.”
POOREST YOU’VE EVER BEEN?
“Fresh out of grad school I was living in Ocean Beach, trying to make it work with gigs. I felt sorry for myself and was pissed at the world, so all I did was write bad poetry and practice playing.”
YOUR CELEB LOOKALIKE?
“Somebody once told me I look like Eric Stoltz.”
HAVE YOU BEEN A CRIME VICTIM?
“Once, outside San Francisco, a friend and I were delivering a grandfather clock to his uncle’s house in Marin. We stopped to use a pay phone, and some dude tried to mug me while I was sitting in our van. He had ‘Satan’ tattooed across his shoulderblades and smelled like he just drank a whole bottle of whiskey. As he was punching me in the face, some stranger came out of nowhere and clocked him in the back of the head with a baseball bat, and we got away. I still think that stranger with the bat was some kind of angel.”
“If I were to do it all over again, I would have sought out better mentors and training in my 20s.”
THREE THINGS WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT GRANT CLARKSON?
1) “I don’t like being out in the sun.”
2) “I’ve sold off all my old music collection on Amazon and now rely on jazz and classical radio so as not to get stuck on what has already influenced me.”
3) “I look up everything on YouTube.”