All I Can Say has finally been released! In development since 2007, this documentary documents the daily life of former Blind Melon frontman Shannon Hoon. Shannon tragically died on October 21, 1995 from an overdose and became one of many famous young singers to die in the ’90s. However, his death struck a different chord compared to other high-profile deaths like Kurt Cobain (1994) and Bradley Nowell (1996).
Blind Melon was unfairly deemed a “one-hit wonder” by the music media, and the legacy of Blind Melon faded quickly. Thankfully, VH1’s Behind the Music and now All I Can Say have revealed the true brilliance of Shannon and Blind Melon, proving that the band is more than just one song.
While Behind the Music heavily focused on drugs and the “rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle,” All I Can Say is a revealing look into the mental health struggles that Shannon dealt with daily. About 98% of the footage from the film consists of Shannon’s personal diaries, which he shot on his Hi8 camera.
The film includes conversations with his alcoholic father, Shannon arguing with police, and Shannon teaching his girlfriend how to use the camera. The level of detail and commitment he went through to document his life is astounding.
There are moments in the film of him brushing his teeth, cutting his hair, and even watching television. Why did Shannon film the mundane aspects of his life? It is almost as if he had a special relationship with the camera. Maybe it was therapeutic to talk the camera?
One of the most chilling moments is Shannon mentioning that life can end at any time—a moment that hits especially hard, as the audience knows his death is approaching. Shannon was exuberant to capture the beauty of the world around him.
The film editor, Taryan Gould, in an interview on LiveNation’s Instagram page, explained she wanted the film to represent what the process of sifting through over 200 hours of someone else’s personal life felt like. All I Can Say successfully creates a bond with the charismatic Shannon and the audience. It makes you want to reach out and help him.
My big questions going into the documentary was if the band were going to be interviewed and what the footage would reveal up until Shannon’s sudden death. However, there were zero interviews with the band. The filmmakers went the opposite direction to a film like Gimme Shelter, where the Rolling Stones watch the footage from the infamous Altamont Concert.
If you want reactions from the band and Shannon’s family, Behind the Music is the place to go. It’s also a good place to start to learn who some of the background characters are, like Blind Melon’s manager who randomly appears in All I Can Say.
Taryan Gould also shared that her only restraint on the final cut was showing the final tape before Shannon’s death. Why the restraint? The moments before his death was the typical day in the life of Shannon Hoon. He was lying on his hotel room bed, talking to his girlfriend on the phone, dreading getting back onto the tour bus. Shannon had an eye for framing shots or placing the camera in decent positions. The final camera placement was lazily dumped on a chair to show his further plunge into apathy.
All I Can Say is a must-watch for Blind Melon fans. For casual documentary fans, this might be a turn-off because of the low budget feel, experimental film moments, and slow start. The pace may be slow out of the gate, but smoothly picks up midway through to the end.
Blind Melon tried to carry on after Shannon’s death in the ’90s, but ultimately decided to disband. They reformed with vocalist Travis Warren and released For My Friends in 2008, but have been on and off again since. A new album is slated to be released at some point in 2020, however. I have a feeling the response will be different this time around.
It’s great to hear the Blind Melon sound again. All I Can Say brings closure to the old era of the band. Just like all the great songs they wrote already, I will be revisiting the documentary many more times in the future.