The Day the Music Died
With no disrespect to Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and “The Big Bopper,” for many film music fans July 21, 2004, was “the day the music died.” I remember I was sitting in front of my computer, much like I am right now, when I heard of the death of Jerry Goldsmith. I felt like I had been punched in the gut. The reaction was so real, so visceral and primal, that I immediately sank into a lethargic funk that lasted for days. Even my therapist asked about it. I had never met Goldsmith, but I felt like I had lost a beloved teacher or mentor.
Frequent readers of this blog are familiar with my love for Goldsmith’s score to THE OMEN, my first soundtrack purchase. I was fortunate enough to discover Jerry’s music during a particularly lucrative period in his output. Titles like THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, STAR TREK – THE MOTION PICTURE, UNDER FIRE, and HOOSIERS helped shape my love for film music and guided me through my first decade of film music discovery.
On that summer day when I first heard the news, I plowed through my numerous Goldsmith scores looking for the perfect music to help me remember the man and his music. Nothing seemed right. I was unfamiliar with his score for ISLANDS IN THE STREAM, but remembered reading that it was a particular favorite of his. Thanks to the good folks at the now-defunct Footlight Records, I was able to find a copy with relative ease.
From that opening clarinet arpeggio and lush, heartbreaking French horn main theme, this was the music I had been looking for. Nothing sappy or syrupy. It was simply right, like so much of Goldsmith’s music.
The title of this post is a bit of a misnomer in that Goldsmith’s music has not, and will never, die. Fans of his music have greeted with enthusiasm the many surprise releases this year of previously unavailable music. Five years after his death, Goldsmith is one of the only composers, if not the only composer, to regularly sell out. It doesn’t matter what the title is, film score fans can’t get enough of Jerry’s music.
Since his death, for some reason I’ve denied myself the pleasures of his music, whether newly released scores or favorites in my collection, except for THE OMEN (of course) and a couple of other titles. I can’t really explain why. But that seems to be changing.
Film Score Monthly’s recent expanded TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE and Varese Sarabande’s LONELY ARE THE BRAVE, Goldsmith’s first major score, have “reintroduced” me to this very special composer. So to celebrate Jerry’s many musical gifts, I think I’ll begin with the soaring “Kick the Can” sequence from TWILIGHT ZONE, music that speaks of life and love, and then just let the iPod shuffle through his remarkable output.
I wouldn’t recommend my ridiculous brand of self-denial. But, oh, imagine the voyage of rediscovery that awaits me.