In a Q&A with Noah Baumbach earlier this month, Joel and Ethan Coen revealed that they’ve been working on a new script for a music-related film featuring songs “pretty much all performed live” on a “single instrument.” The pair kept further details a bit cryptic in that discussion, but now the L.A. Times have been tipped off with an intriguing update on the project: The Mayor of MacDougal Street, a posthumously published memoir by legendary folk singer Dave Van Ronk that revisits the historic 1960s Greenwich Village scene he helped lead, is serving as inspiration for the script, which is loosely based on Van Ronk’s life.
As documented in Bob Dylan’s memoir Chronicles: Volume 1, “in Greenwich Village, Van Ronk was king of the street, he reigned supreme.” In fact, Van Ronk gave Dylan his first pivotal chance in the scene’s spotlight, when he offered the future poet laureate of rock a set at the popular Gaslight Cafe following an impromtu performance of “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” at a guitar shop. Many others, including Joni Mitchell and Phil Ochs, were discovered by Van Ronk during that era.
Some Coen Brothers scripts never see the light of day, of course, so there’s no guarantee this would-be-awesome project will come to fruition. If they do manage to go folk, something tells me their longtime collaborator Jeff Bridges might make a good Van Ronk. I mean, the guy can certainly sing the part.