A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story

Directed by Keith Maitland

From Willie Nelson to Wilco, Ray Charles to Radiohead, A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story offers the ultimate backstage pass to 40 years of incredible music from the longest running music show in television history.


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  • ★★★½ review by RetroHound on Letterboxd

    Can music bring you to tears? Not necessarily the words, but just pure, honest music? It does to me. As a long time fan of Austin City Limits, I'm really kind of ashamed at how few episodes I've actually watched. However, I really respect the show for being just music. No pyrotechnics, no fancy stuff, just musicians and an few hundred people for an audience. This doc celebrating 40 years of ACL covers how they began the show, how it has evolved, and goes into a lot of the stars who have appeared. Beginning as a show to showcase Austin and Texas music (Willie Nelson, Lightnin' Hopkins, Jerry Jeff Walker, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Doug Sahm, etc.), it expanded to including almost anyone who's a luminary in their field (Ray Charles, BB King, The Pixies, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, etc.). Seems odd to me that the cover here has Beck on it. Not that there's anything wrong with Beck, but any one of those I named would be more appropriate. There is not a lot of concert footage (well, a lot of snippets of concerts and rehearsals), it's mostly a talking head doc (how appropriate that I would use that term as the show ends with David Byrne on stage).

  • ★★★½ review by lukemcd on Letterboxd

    This doc is a bit unfocused but I love ACL so much it gets a thumbs up in my boat.

  • ★★★★ review by Matt Shiverdecker on Letterboxd

    Got really emotional watching the footage in this of Lyle Lovett's final studio 6A performance. I covered that evening for Austinist & still feel so honored that I was in that room for the taping. I had only lived in Austin for a little more than a year at that point, but had watched the show for years and so I knew how special it was to be present at the moment.

    Fortunate to have attended many more since including a taping where Rosanne Cash snuck my request of "Burn Down This Town" into her setlist thanks to my friend Leslie Nichols, a producer of the show, who passed along my Twitter suggestion. It didn't make it to the final broadcast, but I about fell over in the studio when she started to play it at the taping.

    We've been lucky to attend many of the contemporary tapings featured in this documentary and it's a blast to see footage of some of the classic shows (like Ray Charles, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and more!).

  • ★★★½ review by Aaron King on Letterboxd

    If I had to choose between SNL or this, I would choose this in a heart beat.

  • ★★★½ review by Dan Heaton on Letterboxd

    A solid look at the history of Austin City Limits, with artists from every era involved. It's a pretty straightforward documentary helped out by a lot of great performances.

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