Mo’ Better Blues | A Love Supreme

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Spike Lee originally wanted to name “Mo’ Better Blues,” “A Love Supreme” after John Coltrane’s most celebrated album. However, Coltrane’s widow Alice wasn’t in favor, so Lee found a different name. Still, Lee employs the prolific album in a powerful montage towards the end of the film. The scene chronicles the marriage of Bleek and Indigo, the birth of their child, and his early adolescence. Both the montage and record were greatly condensed. Although only the first suite of the album was used, the album itself was fairly short as well. It clocks in at around thirty minutes, which is surprising given Coltrane regularly played solos longer than that. It marks Bleek’s gradual redemption from a dark period of depression and isolation following his injury. Similarly, Coltrane recorded A Love Supreme following a tortured period of heroin addiction and alcoholism. Coltrane writes in the album liner notes, that “during the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life.” Its fitting that A Love Supreme should be introduced in the film at the time Bleek finally finds something he loves more than himself. Lee described the movie as “a love story between couples, between friends, between father and son, between generations.” Coltrane’s masterpiece exists as a statement of love and thanks for redemption from spiritual enslavement. He frequently gives thanks to a God, generally understood as the monotheistic Judeo-Christian entity, that he never specifies. His collection of books included The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Autobiography of a Yogi, and his wife Alice would later become a devotee of the Hindu guru Sathya Sai Baba. Coltrane doesn’t specify because he speaks of love and spiritualism in a broader sense, entailing anything that motivates individuals to strive for deeper meaning. A Love Supreme is relevant to the scene because Bleek’s shocking revelation, despite not involving drug addiction, points to the significance Coltrane’s spiritual awakening.

Sources:

http://newsok.com/article/2326735

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/music/a39827/john-coltrane-fifty-years-later/

http://aln2.albumlinernotes.com/A_Love_Supreme.html

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4 comments

  1. It is very interesting that you say “Its fitting that A Love Supreme should be introduced in the film at the time Bleek finally finds something he loves more than himself.” I feel like if others knew the Coltrane information, then their emotional reaction of disappointment about Indigo accepting Bleek would be different. I remember watching it with the class and everyone was upset and felt like Bleek was using indigo because he had no one else to fall back on without realizing that he actually did love Indigo as well. Amazing research. Now i’m wondering why Spike Lee decided not to add the spiritual/religious aspect of Coltrane’s influence on the film.

  2. While I found this comment very important and interesting, I also found that it revealed something about our assumptions about the “self.” To further the discourse, I would like to use the story of Bleek to to add another dimension to this outlook of self as a single and completely separate thing from others around you. I wrote a post actually inspired by this: http://wp.me/p38GFi-1Ba

  3. I’m so glad you wrote about Coltrane’s spiritual reawakening that led to A Love Supreme. In furthering GB’s comment, I also think it was interesting to hear other people’s reactions to the end of the film. The montage of Bleek and Indigo getting married and raising their son evoked strong negative reactions from some of the members of our class as they commented that it appeared that Bleek was “repeating the cycle.” I on the other hand, felt that Lee’s use of A Love Supreme should have informed our discussion and Lee’s intentions. The accompaniment of that montage with a piece that represents such transformative, spiritual experiences lead me to believe that Bleek’s journey is a truly impactful one and we should view it in that way.

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