It took 4,907 words and approximately 40 years to get us to this point. Over the last several weeks, you have read about my early days learning music on the piano and clarinet (Part One), high school marching band hell (Part Two) and the beginnings of a music career in college (Part Three), and continued with the end of my performing days in Boston and a brief stint in Broadway and musical theatre in New York (Part Four).
For this final installment of “My Life In Music,” we arrive at film music–part-time and full-time–and the birth of my writing career.
Except for one memorable paper on autism in high school, I never considered myself much of a writer. I loved research (still do) and was able to knock out a paper in a matter of days, no matter the subject. Essay tests were a breeze. Current blog withstanding, I never found grammar, spelling, or punctuation to be difficult.
Like music, writing was intuitive. But I had never considered it as a career. When I realized that Broadway was not turning into the ideal career choice, I began a project in my spare time that has led me to this post today.
In the early days of my discovery of film music, everything was dictated by the Academy Awards. If it wasn’t nominated for Best Original Score, I wasn’t interested. For years, except for the odd non-nominated soundtrack here or there (and there weren’t many), my soundtrack purchases were relegated to the five Oscar nominees. In fact, I venture to say that had Jerry Goldsmith not won his Oscar for THE OMEN, my film score purchases might have ended right there. (I shudder to think how wealthy I’d be–and how much room I’d have–by now if not for all those CDs.)
In 2002 I took my passion for the only kind of film music that I thought was worth knowing, those Oscar-nominated scores, and began to write a historical reference guide. Over the next couple of years, nearly every night and weekend was spent watching over 450 films, containing every nominated film from 1934 to the present. At the end of that period, I had written a first draft of a book that publishers and agents didn’t seem interested in.
After licking my wounds, I took the material into the digital age in 2005 with a website, Settling-the-Score.com. I no longer had to be concerned with word counts and print limitations. This was a chance to expand the material into a whole new realm. Every nominated and shortlisted score and composer each had their own page. And readers could finally “hear” what I was writing about through the use of audio clips.
I ran the site for three years, learning HTML, SEO, and a host of other acronyms that opened up a whole new world for me online. But the site was an expensive undertaking and brought in no money in return. One day, I found Film Score Monthly in a Google search for Alfred Newman’s score for ALL ABOUT EVE (my favorite film). I finally opened up my closed little mind and began to listen to scores that weren’t nominated for Academy Awards.
And that has made all the difference.
In 2005, I also began to write liner notes for Varese Sarabande Records. Around that same time, armed with a little humility, I approached Lukas Kendall at Film Score Monthly about the possibility of writing some feature articles on film music. Though the print edition of the magazine was winding down, I was able to contribute a couple of articles and have continued my contributions with the online edition ever since.
Through it all, Tim Curran has been a supportive editor who has basically given me carte blanche to write whatever I want. In 2008, Tim approached me about writing a column, and Gold Rush was born, a bi-monthly column dedicated to music from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
The blog you are currently reading morphed out of a different WordPress blog in which I haphazardly wrote about anything and everything that interested me. It had no direction, no purpose. There was a lack of enthusiasm in the writing because of it and my interest in the blog quickly waned.
Film Score Click Track attempts to distill my love of an unspoken art form—film music—into language. I sometimes shudder when I read past writing. You—my readers—hopefully benefit from my earlier experiments and mistakes.
This blog has been a thrilling journey. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media have introduced me to some wonderful people all over the world, and we fans get to congregate on this site for a bit to drink at the fountain of film music.
I’d venture to say I have learned more about writing since the launch of this blog in April 2009 than in all the years leading up to it. The give-and-take communal aspect of a blog makes me harness new skills that I continue to develop.
This series of posts may be ending, but my journeys into film music and writing are far from finished.