Thursday, August 2, 2007

More Love for Movie Music

Thanks to a local Richmond publication (BRICK magazine) I’ve stumbled across a website that was made for me. It’s called and, as the name infers, it’s a site where you can go to listen to movie music streaming through your computer. Apparently, it’s run by folks here in Richmond, Virginia but it’s a very slick, well-run site and they, frankly, play some great shit.

My wife and I have toyed with the idea of subscribing to XM Radio because of the soundtrack channel they have. But I’ve had occasion to listen to it and it just doesn’t seem like…me. Lots of easy-listening stuff that I’m just not interested in. Family-friendly stuff. Occasionally, they’ll have a theme hour where they’ll play something interesting, but on the whole, I think it’s a nice try but no cigar., on the other hand, is kicking serious butt. In the last fifteen minutes or so, I’ve heard tracks from Alan Silvestri’s PREDATOR score, John Williams’ THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and Bruce Broughton’s TOMBSTONE. Right now, I’m hearing “Time Warp” from the ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW album. Unbelievable.

A few minutes ago, they played “Ripley’s Rescue” from James Horner’s ALIENS score. This one hit me kind of funny because I distinctly remember that track playing on my stereo one day in college and my girlfriend at the time telling me to put on some “real” music. At the time, I wasn’t terribly offended because she was smiling when she said it but she was serious. Over the years, I’ve gotten similar comments from folks. (Thankfully, not from my wife, an understanding angel of a woman.) One tends to get tired of hearing that something you love is not considered legitimate. What, I wonder, do these people consider to be real music? Britney Spears?

I’ve loved film music of all kinds since I can remember. When I was nine years old, I saved up my allowance for three months to buy my first soundtrack, the two-platter album of John William’s STAR WARS score. It was the vinyl album with the great full-color stills from the movie in the middle. I’d listen to it all the way through on my parents’ turntable stereo system, then start it over again. Over and over, until my Mom cried, “Enough!”

My next album was Basil Poledouris’ CONAN THE BARBARIAN score. I was a little older and had begun to gain an appreciation for music in general and I was able to pick out specific instruments by ear. I was hooked. Next was Ennio Morricone’s THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE UGLY. I soon started collecting them to the exclusion of almost all other music: Elfman’s BEETLEJUICE and BATMAN, Horner’s ALIENS and WRATH OF KHAN, Poledouris’ ROBOCOP, Williams’ RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and SUPERMAN, Howard Shore’s THE FLY, Bill Conti’s underrated (and too-often mocked) ROCKY score.

When I was in high school, I lost almost a hundred pounds by walking incessantly up and down our road listening to the opening theme music from THE DEAD ZONE by the late, great Michael Kamen, recorded by putting a microphone up to the TV because the album was unavailable. I even compiled (in similar fashion) a tape of about fifty TV theme songs to listen to.

Over time, film music has broadened my horizons a bit. MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE introduced me to the wonderful world of the band AC/DC. The DIRTY HARRY movies gave me an appreciation for Jazz by way of the amazingly versatile Lalo Schifrin (whom I’ve seen conduct in person.) And I’m constantly hearing pop or alternative rock songs in movies that have prompted me to seek out more by that particular artist. Even hip-hop! The OFFICE SPACE album is loaded with great hip-hop songs.

But my first, best love is orchestral scores. My latest loves are John Powell (X-MEN 3, HAPPY FEET and MR. AND MRS. SMITH) and John Ottman (X2, SUPERMAN RETURNS.) I’m also going through a kind of retro-crush on the late Jerry Goldsmith since a friend gave me his RAMBO and FIRST BLOOD scores to listen to. (He had them but didn’t want them because, you guessed it…!)

There’s a lot to love in movie music, whatever your tastes. So, feel free to tell me you don’t like it or even that you hate it. But don’t dare tell me it’s not “real” music.


Mike Wieringo said...

I'm still thrilling to the BATMAN BEGINS soundtrack... every time I listen to it, I fall in love with it a little more. And I also still have so much love for the CONAN sountrack-- it's an instant pick-me-up whenever I need a creative kick in the pants.

I think that a lot of creative folks enjoy soundtracks... it hits the emotional center of the brain... and folks who don't get that.... well... they're just not creative. That's their loss.

Eric said...

I used to work at a newspaper with a chap who wrote freelance for Film Score Monthly, and he'd come in after hours to transcribe interviews with great film score composers (I remember David Shire being one in particular) while I was typing obituaries. He had quite the collection too....

I find that film scores are good to listen to while writing, to a certain point. That point comes when I get so enthused by a track or a score that I quit writing and go to watch the movie the music came from!

Matt Wieringo said...

Amen, Eric. I've had that happen a few times. The film VAN HELSING is pretty awful but after a week of listening to the music, I just HAD to see it again.

Your friend sounds like a pretty cool guy. What a great job to have.