There’s one film in particular that comes up time and time again when it comes to the topic of the best music documentary. Believe it or not, many musicians themselves will tell you it’s 1984’s “This Is Spinal Tap.” Yes, it’s actually a mockumentary with comedians playing roles, but every single guy and gal out there that have ever toured with a rock band will tell you the entire ridiculous display is the truest representation of what it’s really like being on the road, dealing with internal politics, and having innumerable missteps at every turn.
According to many accounts from actual rock bands such as Metallica, being out on the road in a tour bus or traveling through air ports is often a logistical nightmare where Murphy’s Law runs wild. Nothing ever seems to go as planned. The madcap depiction of all of this presented by This Is Spinal Tap seems exaggerated to truly absurd heights, and yet all of the biggest acts have all given the entirety of the film their stamp of approval. No matter who you are, it seems you’re destined to have your own disastrous Spinal Tap moments if you devote your life to being in a band.
This Is Spinal Tap is so popular with bands that many of them actually use it as a frequent “road movie” to watch while they’re traveling from gig to gig. Of course, this kind of cult status is universal outside of the spectrum of musicians as well. The film is highly quotable, particularly gags such as the “this amps goes to 11” bit. The movie is a favorite of many, so much so that the actors in the film have actually gone on to take the stage for real with full fledged performances. It’s a very bizarre example of life imitating art, and in many ways vice versa.
While it might seem like a complete farce to name a parody film the best music documentary of all time, the fact that This Is Spinal Tap has been championed by so many people from the exact world that it lampoons makes quite a statement. It stands firmly on its own as both a comedy classic and also an almost jarringly accurate look into the truly strange places that being in a rock band will land you. If you’ve never had the privilege of experiencing the so-called “funniest rock movie ever made,” you should definitely give it a shot.