Saturday, August 25, 2007

Music of the Spheres

Did a lengthy search with Bubba for some various music online tonight, and one of the things that came up was our mutual love of John Barry's orchestral soundtrack for The Black Hole. And it made me remember, yet again, that before I listened to popular music or rock or anything else, the records that I bought - spent my allowance on and everything - were movie soundtracks. Not the type of mix tape compilation that's in vogue today, but the lush full orchestration types that followed in the wake of John Williams' Star Wars

In fact, the double LP or Williams' score for that is the first album I can recall owning, or at least wanting to own, which is an important distinction. So, music is another part of my life that was deeply influenced - and in some ways, fostered - by the deeply obsessive love the six-yer-old me had for all things Skywalker.

So, for several years after that, I exclusively bought soundtracks, or requested them for Christmas, birthdays or Hanukkah. And it didn't ended up being a broad connection - Lord knows, I'm not one of those movie score obsessives who has to have every last note Bernard Hermann ever wrote - but it formed the cornerstone of my musical leanings, towards music with an inherent narrative feel and a broad range of musical colors. In fact, my entire love for Prog Rock - my personal "Dave" music that none of my friends share any taste for - begins with my repeated listening to Wendy Carlos' Moog and orchestra soundtrack for Tron. The two Journey songs on there? Not so much.

I've not been such a close follower of movie scores over the recent two decades, my musical tastes having turned towards rock and jazz and their antecedents and offshoots. But there will still be a theme here or there or an interlude that I note with interest. Williams (again) came up with a pitch-perfect theme for Harry Potter, for example. Or the drunken Argentinean tangos for Waking Life. Or Jon Brion's mournful yet oddly optimistic Wurlitzer score for I ♥ Huckabees. And I've already mentioned how much I liked the score from Mirrormask, no matter how far outside my taste it is.

And there have been others. An eclectic selection:Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Brokeback Mountain. Schindler's List. The Truth About Charlie (And you know a score has got to be great when you still want to hear it even when you hated the movie that it came attached to).

More than just getting my interest, I loved some or most of those scores. So, maybe it's not me. Maybe it's just the movie soundtracks that got small.

Anyway, any soundtracks that you few Subway Passengers out there like? I know Rick will recommend a Rachel Portman film. Bubba will no doubt cite some Danny Elfman job. And let's not forget Jerry Goldsmith. Bring them on.



Chris said...

Well, where do I begin. Soundtracks have always been a huge part of my life, and it is probably where this weird yearning for vocal free music comes from. I had the double album of Star Wars, and if I remember correctly, it annoyed me a little because it was slightly out of order with the flow of the movie.

As a really young child, we had the soundtrack to Mary Poppins, which we listened to all the time. I still think it is fantastic!

One soundtrack in particular that I was obsessed with for years even though I didn't like the movie so much was Flash Gordon. Queen was at the top of the their game in my opinion for that album!

You are right, Danny Elfman holds a special place in my heart. But that's partially because I was actually an Oingo Boingo fan first. Again, I was obsessed with the Batman soundtrack for years, even though the movie was a train wreck from start to finish. And don't forget the subtle weirdness of the Midnight Run soundtrack!

I actually also really enjoy the soundtrack to Solaris by Cliff Martinez. It is really good mellow sci-fi creepy.

I really enjoyed the soundtrack to The Thing and Zeffirelli's Hamlet by Ennio Morricone. Both are moody and well thought out.

As a kid, I loved the first superman soundtrack, but I don't know if it still holds up anymore, I think it's a little too bright for me these days.

Dave Kopperman said...

Oh, yes, that Flash Gordon soundtrack is one I owned as a kid - and another case of the soundtrack being (in this case, only by a slight margin) the best thing in the movie.

I don't know - I think the Batman and Superman scores are pretty much the blueprint of how a superhero movie score should sound. I mean, they have THEMES that you can identify, whereas I can't for the life of me recall what the X-Men or Spider-Man themes are. And that's bad news. I should be able to walk around picturing myself as Peter Parker, humming my theme.