Thursday, July 19, 2007


Apparently I was tagged the other day by Paul on a quiz-meme thing where I'm supposed to write about between 5 and 10 "songs" (which I loosely interpret as, well, any musical work at all) that have had a large impact on me. Hmmmmm...well, I'll try to stay away from my "usual suspects", i.e., works or songs that I've waxed poetic about in this space before. With maybe one or two exceptions.

:: "Building the Barn", by Maurice Jarre, from Witness. OK, Witness is one of my all-time favorite movies. I think it's damned near flawless. The only faults I personally find with it are that (a) the subplot with Hochleitner's (Alexander Godunov) jealousy of John Book's relationship with Rachel is just slightly overplayed, and (b) the score by Maurice Jarre is, with one giant exception, disappointing brooding synthesizer crap.

The one exception, though, is absolutely remarkable: the cue that underscores the wonderful barn-raising set piece. I almost wonder if Jarre intentionally made the rest of his score as nondescript as it is, so this one cue would stand out, but stand out it does. At the outset it sounds almost like a retread of Pachelbel's Canon in D, but then it goes into its own thing.

On a more personal note, whenever I listen to this track now (a stunning version for full orchestra, as opposed to synth, can be heard on this album), I think back to this day, and the time I spent doing something rather like a barnraising, and at the side of my best friend.

:: "Wonderful World", by Sam Cooke. Featured in the other great scene from Witness (although in a version not sung by Cooke). I love Sam Cooke, and this is my favorite of his songs.

:: Symphony No. 2 in E minor, by Sergei Rachmaninov. OK, here's one that I've waxed poetic about before, but I can't help it. I often hear Ravel's Bolero described as "erotic" or "sensual", but damned if I can't ever hear those qualities. But you know what? I was listening to the Rachmaninov Second a week or two back, and, well, I can't help but use adjectives like that to describe it, the way it constantly ebbs and flows, the epic nature of its emotion. I don't usually describe music in such stark terms, but in the Rachmaninov Second I hear the distillation of love itself. I don't know how to say it any other way.

:: Irish Tune from County Derry, by Percy Grainger. This was the first piece we played in band, on the first day of my freshman year of college. I think my love of Celtic music was born here. I love this lush and gorgeous setting, with its ingeniously concealed dissonances.

:: "The Portrait", by James Horner, from Titanic. Bite me, Titanic haters. I love this movie, and that's a fact. The music, however, is another story -- there's some awfully good stuff here from Horner, as well as some tremendously lazy stuff, and the "action" writing during the sinking is mostly rhythmic thrashing. While I don't hate "My Heart Will Go On", I will certainly admit that it's been played to death to the point where it's pretty much a complete cliche of a song. However, the solo piano rendition of that theme, heard during the scene where Jack sketches the nude Rose, is soft, tasteful, and delicately beautiful.

:: "The Grand Finale", by Danny Elfman, from Edward Scissorhands. I'm not the biggest Elfman fan in the world, but he's had his moments, and this track contains about nine of them.

:: "Inside Your Heaven", by Carrie Underwood. The tune's nothing groundbreaking, and the lyrics are pretty much your standard insipid pop-ballad poetics. And yet, I love this song so. Shoot me. Right now.

:: "I Dreamed a Dream", from Les Miserables. How I want to see this show, someday, seeing as how I know every note in its score from listening to the complete recordings for so long. "No song unsung, no wine untasted...."

:: "One for my Baby (and One More for the Road)". Classic song. I love the version by Frank Sinatra off his Only the Lonely album. Can't listen to that album too much, though. It's never an easy listen, and these days, it would probably drive me to either suicide or body-piercing. Maybe even a tattoo or something.

OK, that's all. I guess I'm supposed to tag people now, but I think all the people I'd normally tag have already done this one, so feel free to grab-and-go, folks.

1 comment:

Call me Paul said...

Ah, but you see, that's why I tagged you. If'n ya wanna hear "not just the same old dreck" tag Jaq. That's what I always say.

Actually, I've never said that. But there it is.