Ride Into the Danger Zone

Did you hear a little Kenny Loggins in the background when you read the title of today’s post? Maybe a synthesized Harold Faltermeyer riff? Good. You were supposed to. But this post isn’t going to be about “the need for speed” or the TOP GUN score.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to break out of our comfort zones and “ride into the Danger Zone”.

I’m a lazy person. I have a 20-block area spanning Lincoln Center to 42nd Street that I’m willing to travel. And I usually limit myself to 2-3 blocks east to west. Don’t even talk to me about going to the east side or the outer boroughs. Yup, I pretty much stay in my Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Is it one of my more attractive qualities? Not particularly.

The key word of the above paragraph is “limit;” I’m describing limiting behavior. I’m sure I’ve missed out on some great things over the years, especially the last 10 or so, while I’ve stayed close to home. Is the rest of the city a “danger zone”? Of course not. And, yes, I  break my limiting habit from time to time, but not often. But whether because of laziness, or stubbornness, the end result is the same–I’m hurting myself.

Limiting behavior can be applied to film music.

We all have preferences when it comes to film music, favorite composers and genres of scores that we like to listen to. That’s the beauty–and subjectivity–of art. We can like what we like and not have to feel guilty or explain our preferences to anyone. But how often do we explore the unknown?

I have a friend who refuses to watch films in black and white. I know people who only read fiction. Many film score fans refuse to listen to Golden Age music. (Hell, sometimes anything before 1985 is labeled Golden Age to them.)

But why? Is it because “That’s just how I am”? Is it because they tried one, maybe two scores from a particular composer and hated them? Or did they do what I did and stubbornly deprive themselves of the joy of discovering and enjoying something along with their peers or on their own?

I tend to ignore any score (or book, TV show, film, etc.) that is part of pop culture. Let’s take THE DARK KNIGHT, AMERICAN IDOL, or the music of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA for example. I had a physical revulsion to all three strictly because of their popularity with the masses. It’s probably an issue that needs a therapist’s attention, but for now, let’s just call it what it is—limiting.

When I finally saw THE DARK KNIGHT on DVD, I thoroughly enjoyed both the film and the score. While other film score fans were deriding the score, I found it fresh and invigorating, perhaps because it was a genre I’d ignored for years. It also brought me back to the world of Zimmer, whom I’d ignored for most of the decade while he was wasting his time on films unworthy of his talents.

And I’ve had to concede that I was wrong to dismiss Bear McCreary’s music for BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. While I don’t think McCreary has hit his stride yet, the music gave me hints of the talent that lies behind the jungle drums and that is more evident in his music for CAPRICA.

I stand by my dismissal of all things IDOL. I only saw the first episode of the first season, but I’ve seen enough snippets over the years for the show to still make my skin crawl. I’d rather read a Barbara Cartland romance.

It may sound stupid to put THE DARK KNIGHT and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA in the Danger Zone. But that’s where they were for me. Sometimes our reason(s) for refusing to explore the unknown doesn’t matter. It’s the act of doing it that’s the problem.

When we ride “out along the edges,” in the immortal words of Kenny Loggins, then “the higher the intensity.” Our senses are alive and we may discover something that could potentially be life-changing. At the very least enjoyable. At one time, each and every one of us reading this blog took that leap with film music. Now, how often do we “ride into the Danger Zone”?

Once again Kenny Loggins provides the answer: “You never know what you can do until you get it up as high as you can go.”

  1. Hey Jim,

    I think you’re definitely spot on. This is a post that was really good for me to read. I need to be reminded way to often, and in far too many areas of my life, that my comfort zones are there to be challenged, not merely accepted. Life can truly start to be experienced when you’re on the outer limits of the familiar, and that applies to just about every realm of my experience. The food I eat, the music I listen to, the clothes I’m willing to wear ;) , the books I read and films I watch, the sports I play, the strangers I’m willing to talk to and share a good laugh with, the list goes on and on. Thanks for the reminder to ride into that “danger zone” of the unfamiliar and live life more fully, and more satisfyingly. :) This summer I’m getting back into music performance and probably taking sailing lessons, and this helps affirm those decisions. :)

    Incidentally, I’ve been meaning to explore the BSG scores. The only score by McCreary I have heard so far is “Dark Void,” which I have enjoyed very much. Also, the score to “Dark Knight” isn’t bad at all. I quite enjoy it, more than “Batman Begins.” And I’ll never have any kind of interest in “Idol.” Blargh. ;)

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