As oddball days of observance go, this one isn’t too shabby at all. Besides, these days anything that can serve to brighten someone’s day is to be applauded, so let’s have at it, shall we?
What are we talking about? According to the National Day Calendar website, National Film Score Day “recognizes the musical masterpieces called “Film Scores” and, more specifically, the very talented composers who create them.”
I’ve been known to write about this subject from time to time, and those of you who spend any time here likely know that I’m a huge fan of film and TV music and love listening to it apart from the production for which it was created. It’s also my habit to listen to such music when I’m writing, as it always helps to set the “right mood” for the project-in-progress.
A well-crafted film score is a thing of beauty. The first album I ever bought with my own money was the vinyl 2-record LP score for the original Star Wars in 1977. In the decades following that admittedly weird experience in a Montgomery Ward store while on a shopping spree with my grandmother, my music library has grown in fits and starts until the last decade or so, when it kicked into high gear with no regard for the safety of others or the universe as a whole. I don’t care what other people think…play that funky movie music, white boy!
Though it started with music from newer film television and productions as they were released, It’s only been in the last decade or so that I’ve really dug in, finding “expanded” or “complete” editions of scores from days gone by which were only made available in truncated form due to the limitations of the medium (LP records, cassette tapes, 8-track tapes, and even CDs once they took over). Thanks to companies like La-La Land Records and Intrada I’ve been able to enjoy updated, expanded, and remastered versions of scores of older films, and in some cases it’s like hearing the music for the first time EVEN THOUGH I know every note by heart.
What are some of my favorites? Well, some obvious suspects are the various Star Trek films, in particular Jerry Goldsmith’s The Motion Picture, The Final Frontier, and First Contact, James Horner’s The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock, and Michael Giacchino’s music for all three of the reboot films. Everything John Williams has ever done for the Star Wars saga goes on the list, too, but I also must give props to Michael Giacchino for Rogue One and John Powell for Solo.
Jerry Goldsmith is well represented in my library, including personal favorites Planet of the Apes (1968), Rambo: First Blood, Part II (yes, really), Alien, Total Recall, L.A. Confidential, Outland, and 1999’s The Mummy. James Horner also had a lot going on beyond his Star Trek work, and I especially dig Aliens, Apollo 13, Sneakers, Glory, The Rocketeer, Commando, and Titanic (that’s right; I said it). And you can’t have a film score collection without stuff by John Williams, including stuff by John Williams that’s not Star Wars, which is good because I absolutely love the music he created for Jaws, the Indiana Jones films, Saving Private Ryan, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and…of course…Superman.
My taste in film music runs the gamut from Pirates of the Caribbean to The American President, Die Hard, or The Incredibles, or from The Shawshank Redemption to Gladiator, The Martian, or Black Hawk Down. More recent scores include those from several of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, particularly those for the Captain America and Avengers films. The music from the Mission: Impossible movies are also a lot of fun, and I’ve especially enjoyed the scores from the two most recent installments, Rogue Nation and Fallout. Bill Conti’s The Right Stuff is wondrous. Old-school offerings like The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven or The Day the Earth Stood Still are in there, too. The truth is that I’m all over the map with this kind of thing. I hear it while watching the film and know I just have to have it without everybody yakking over it or everything blowing up around it.
TV’s the same way. Yes, Star Trek gets a lot of play around here (occupational hazard, you know), but what about Lost In Space or Mission: Impossible or Alien Nation? Battlestar Galactica? Hell, even seaQuest is in there. I’ve also enjoyed the music for Star Trek: Discovery and just this morning purchased the score for the first season of Star Trek: Picard.
I could do this all day, people.
So, Happy “National Film Score Day.” I think it’s time to stick a little of that action in my ears while I continue to write.