Jonah Levin (Paul Simon) is a faded folk-rock musician who was briefly famous with a single hit in the 1960s (hence the film’s title) and is now trying to create a new album in the face of a mendacious, slippery record-company executive (Rip Torn) and a hot-shot producer determined to gimmick-up Jonah’s music to create a hit (a great cameo from Lou Reed).
Battling against changing trends in music and regarded as a “nostalgia act”, Jonah goes from day to day, living hand to mouth by playing small clubs, dealing with cheating agents, lying club owners, and receiving little recognition.
At the same time, he’s struggling to reconcile with his estranged wife, Marion (Blair Brown), who lives in New York with their young son Matty (Michael Pearlman).
Jonah’s on-camera band features Eric Gale on lead guitar, Richard Tee on piano, Tony Levin on bass, and Steve Gadd on drums.
While clearly a vanity project for Paul Simon (who wrote it), One-Trick Pony is a well-written piece of cinema that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. It’s a loving look at a way of life that Simon clearly knows well.
Cal van Damp
Allen Garfield (as Allen Goorwitz)
The Lovin’ Spoonful
Sam & Dave
Robert M Young