Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Your Favorite Soundtrack, Please

Patrick Shawn Bagley reading. (author photo)

Mine, well, if I were to eliminate some of the lamer choices I could make here (Mama Mia, The Big Chill, Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Jaws), this might be my favorite soundtrack. What's yours?

THE MISSION, Ennio Morricone


David Cranmer said...

1. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly by Ennio Morricone.

2. The Adventures of Robin Hood by Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

3. Thief by Tangerine Dream

4. The Music from Peter Gunn by Henry Mancini (I'm cheating this was television but any movie with a Mancini score is great.)

5. The Last of the Mohicans composed by Randy Edelman, Trevor Jones.

John McFetridge said...

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I have to disagree about Saturday Night Fever. When that came out I was the perfect age to believe, "Disco sucks," but since then I've really grown to appreciate both the movie and the music.

So, I'll add, The Moderns, Alan Rudolph's take on 20's Paris and the music by Mark Isham which some reviewer said evoked the ghosts of Django Reinhardt and Edith Piaf.

And the kind of Motown soundtrack to Out of Sight with those great basslines.

Scott D. Parker said...

Yikes! This is a difficult choice. You have the orchestral scores and then the compilation ones (think Footloose). And, before I begin, I think John Williams is without peer when it comes to soundtracks so I'll only have to choose one or two. Secondly, Erich Kunzel produces numerous compilations grouped by theme and are always good.

1. Empire Strikes Back - As good as some of the material in the original Star Wars was (think the intimacy of the Jawa theme or the girl-vs-the galaxy empathy of Leia's theme), Williams brings his A-Game to TESB. Vader's theme. Yoda's theme. Battle of Hoth (where, in one measure, the futility of the Rebel cause comes out). The Love Theme. The track that accompanies Artoo opening the blast doors on Tatoonie. The Asteroid field. By far my favorite Williams soundtrack and my fav Star Wars one.

2. Raiders of the Lost Ark - Seriously, how can you NOT smile when you hear the opening string parts before the trumpet theme. I picked this over Last Crusade (which has the brilliant Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra) because of two things: Marion's theme (which conveys both young love and adult loss) and Desert Chase (the truck sequence where Indy goes under the truck). Awesome music b/c you can 'see' the action.

3. The Lion King, Broadway version - The Circle of Life, as a song or as a visual, is my single favorite Disney song. Period. The Broadway version just has more stuff.

4. Passion by Peter Gabriel (from The Last Temptation of Christ) - Arguably, Gabriel's most cohesive work to date. This was the first "inspired by" soundtrack I knew where Gabriel wrote more music than just the movie material. Almost entirely non-vocal, this is Gabriel's mission statement on what you can do when you fuse western and non-western music together.

5. When Harry Met Sally - My introduction to Harry Connick (and the world's?). A modern Sinatra with a big band. I'm there! But the subtlety of the band's playing is what makes this my fav jazz soundtrack.

6. 1776 - History in song complete with actual words by the Founding Fathers.

1. Pulp Fiction - I mean, serious, it's a mix tape made by Tarrentino with movie dialogue spliced in. How can you not like it?

2. Garden State - ditto but substitute Zach Braff. This is your indie music primer if you need one.

3. Top Gun - Back in the day, this was the one to have (not Footloose) for me.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I didn't say those weren't my "real" choices, just that they were predictable and lame. These are great choices on here. Some I have never listened to. The Moderns is a great idea. I play When Harry Met Sally all the time. I saw Garden State but don't remember the music. have to check it out. Also have Pulp Fiction. Almost put down The Good, the Bad and The Ugly Or Once Upon a Time in American.

Levi Stahl said...

You've already picked one of mine, The Mission. My other favorite is Until the End of the World, the soundtrack to a Wim Wenders movie that came out in 1991. It features a bunch of contemporary rock artists; Wenders asked them to write and play music like they imagined they would hear in 1999.

Strange thing is that I've never seen either of those movies.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Now that's an interesting observation. Someone recommends the soundtrack and you buy it without seeing the movie. I've never seen Once Upon a Time in America. Don't ask me why. You'd think it would pull you toward seeing the film if it were a successful soundtrack. But it seems to stand on its own often. Disembodied from what birthed it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

BTW-The Mission seemed amazing at the time, but I haven't seen it since.

Joe Boland said...

Original: The Godfather or The Third Man

Comp: Diner or Rushmore

pattinase (abbott) said...

Darn, I've seen The Third Man but the music didn't stay with me. Sometime if the story is too absorbing, the music goes right by me.

Dana King said...

Danny Elfman's score for the Michael keaton/Jack Nicholson version of Batman is a favorite of mine, maybe because of its unexpectedness. It's hard now to remember seeing the dark opening credits and Elfman's almost Wagnerian score when all we had before that was the campy TV version.

Raiders and Once Upon a Time in America are also excellent scores.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Good point. If we're not expecting great music, maybe we don't listen for it. Or if the images are too overwhelming. I am a more visual than auditory person, so it's often not till someone comments on the music that I realize I missed it.

Lolita Breckenridge said...

The Commitments, 1991. Love it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Me, too and I still play The Commitments CD now and then. Loved the movie too. That's the Motown in us, Chris.

Todd Mason said...

The first film soundtrack I remember paying attention to as a whole, that was not for a musical, was Morricone's for FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, which I still think is superior to GOOD/BAD/UGLY or the first of the trilogy, A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS...the incorporation of the musical watch is integral, after all, and the tension and release is optimal.

Best soundtrack the film is kind of built around (non-concert film): NEW YORK EYE AND EAR CONTROL or possibly 32 SHORT FILMS ABOUT GLENN GOULD

Best concert film ON A SUMMER'S DAY...MONTEREY POP...THE LAST WALTZ...URGH! among the compilations from concerts...

Best documentary soundtrack, again, wow...JAZZ IS MY NATIVE LANGUAGE, the Toshiko Akiyoshi doc comes to mind. That Charles Mingus documentary when he has to move, too.

Best use of pre-existing music in a musical: PENNIES FROM HEAVEN, maybe.

Among the hit comp soundtracks, AMERICAN GRAFFITI...

Best tv includes THE SEVEN LIVELY ARTS episode "What Is Jazz?" and the Brubeck Quartet's JAZZ IMPRESSIONS OF NEW YORK (performances of cues from MR. BROADWAY)

Best performances undone by inept sound technicians on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Gil Scott-Heron, the Bangles (Vicki Peterson's guitar mixed so low she couldn't get any feedback to play with)

This is indeed a brain-hurting exercise.

Chris said...

Easy: Taking of Pelham 123 by David Shire. He was a big fan of Schoenberg and applied some pretty advanced theoretical concepts to some really good funk/rock music. It's a nice change of pace, super nerdy but really cool.

Travis Erwin said...

As bad as the movie was Talladega Nights had a really good soundtracks.

Anonymous said...

Morricone's The Good,The Bad and the Ugly and The Mission for scored soundtracks.
Trainspotting and I'm Not There for compilation soundtracks.

pattinase (abbott) said...

heck, I kinda liked Talladega Nights. Oh, I'm Not There. Good One.
And I might add I'm Your Man from the Leonard Cohen biopic.

Lisa said...

My favorite soundtrack is from Magnolia (Aimee Mann). I also liked the soundtracks from Garden State, Natural Born Killers, Pulp Fiction and Permanent Midnight.

Lisa said...

Oh jeeze and Harold and Maud!

Lisa said...

Todd, I have 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould! I don't think I've ever run into anyone else but my father who has seen it. Great film.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Lisa/Todd-I love that movie (Glenn Gould). I've seen it several times. So clever and it perfectly captures his personality. And how could the music not be sensational.
Okay Todd, as usual you are too literate and original for words. If ever we meet, I won't be able to open my mouth.
Again love Pelham, but the music eludes me. Jazzy, I think.
Pennies from Heaven-the British series or the Steve Martin movie?

Todd Mason said...

In answer to your last question, Patti, both. And I suspect you'd have no trouble getting over any excessive reticence around me.

John McFetridge said...

The Odd Couple - it's not music I would ever listen to on its own, but it fits so perfectly with the movie.

The Last Waltz, yeah. The first concert I ever went to was Bob Dylan and The Band at the Montreal Forum. I was fourteen and my cousin who was passing through town bought us tickets from a scalper. I never really did get into Dylan, but I love The Band.

A few houses down from where I wait for the bus there's a plaque, which is kind of unusual in Toronto. It seems especially odd in front of a nice, but really nondescript two story brick house in a middle-class neighbourhood. All it says is that's the house where Glenn Gould grew up and first started playing the piano.

Of course, there's no plaque on the side of the Silver Dollar Tavern where Bob Dylan met The Band and asked them if they wanted to back him up at a folk festival...

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Now I'm waiting for the guy who played Onslow to sue me...

Favorite soundtracks?
L.A. Confidential
The Commitments
The Magnificent Seven
Pulp Fiction
The Van
To Kill a Mockingbird
O, Brother Where Art Thou?

Todd Mason said...

Hey, John McFetridge...I'll listen to THE ODD COUPLE soundtrack at any given time, or almost any of Neil Hefti's other major compositions and arrangements, though admittedly BATMAN's staying power is somewhat limited compared to those of his Count Basie Orchestra charts. In re: Dylan--you couldn't stand to hear him sing, but did you love to hear him talk? (Almost late night Band lyric reference.)

I'm surprised I forgot THE BIG COUNTRY, with my favorite among Holst/Copland-inspired western film soundtracks, composed by Jerome Moross (Patrick Bagley's mention of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVER reminded me)...and that no one including me has mentioned Lalo Schifrin yet.

pattinase (abbott) said...

How could I forget Oh, Brother and The Magnificent Seven is the best single music theme ever for me. Odd Couple, great one.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

I love this thread.

Thanks for the mentions of 1776, Harold and Maude and the Commitments, all favorites.

I will always love the music South Pacific, since it was the first live theater I ever saw. (I was eight--family vacation in D.C.) I play the CD all the time.

Baker Street, Hair and Godspell.


pattinase (abbott) said...

HAIR, how could I forget. And I love all the fifties-sixties musical, inluding WEST SIDE STORY and GIGI.

Anonymous said...

John Waters' original Hairspray is one mighty fine oldies comp. "Nothing Takes the Place of You" by Toussaint McCall alone qualifies it.

Also, The Harder They Come, unless it is too obvious.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The Harder They Come. Very unusual. This is quite a list shaping up. I think it's going to be my Christmas list this year.

Cormac Brown said...

1. Goodfellas (the piano coda from "Layla" still gives me shivers).

2. From Dusk Til Dawn.

3. Strange Days.

4. The Commitments (I just bought the DVD last month for my son)

5. The Harder They Come (Dem a loot, dem a shoot, dem a steal, at Shanty Town)

6. Last Action Hero (just for the two Alice in Chains songs and Fishbone's "Swim").

7. O Brother, Where Art Thou.

8. Less Than Zero.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It seems like soundtracks are a lot more important to people than I knew. I wonder if some people see/hear a movie through its music to some extent.

Anonymous said...

Well, sometimes they make themselves very unwelcome (such as the atypically bad Lex Baxter I mentioned the other day for the American International US release of BLACK SABBATH, or the absolutely miserable quasi-laughtrack score to the Belushi & co. bomb NEIGHBORS), but when they intensify the experience, people do tend to take note.

I didn't want to begin to try to note all the original musicals I really dig, but no one I've heard has ever sung "Age of Aquarius" better than tha the cast of the 1979 film.

Lalo Schifrin, forgotten? MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE alone should etch him in everyone's brain. Then go hear, if you can, his suite for thd Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra, THE NEW WORLD.

Anonymous said...

Having just availed myself of the YouTube clips, I'd forgotten how much of the 1979 HAIR reading was all Ren Woods, well-controlled melisma and all.

Barbara Martin said...

1. Ghost.

2. The Magnificent Seven.

3. The King and I.

4. Heaven Can Wait.

5. The Lord of the Rings.

Anonymous said...

You know what marks us as bunch of non-kids? No mentions, unless in my dotage I missed them, of videogame soundtracks, some of which of course are very elaborate indeed (there are live concert performances of them these days). Tod Machover, MIT electronic music guy (I have an album of his relatively early compostitions), was on NPR this morning in large part for being one of the creators of Guitar Hero and went onto describe other musical interfaces he and his students had been working on of late.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I didn't even know there were video game soundtracks. Wow.