No Country for Old Men

U Got the Look

Walking the streets of New York City is sensory overload. Too many people, too much noise, too much everything. So when I’m out in public I’m surgically attached to my iPod. It takes me to my happy place as I endure the inevitable hassles of getting from Point A to Point B, and keeps me relatively sane and mentally preoccupied so I don’t give in to my urges to kick people in the street.

The following scenario may be more of a problem because of where I live. But see if it hasn’t happened to you in some fashion or form.

You meet up with friends or say hello to acquaintances on the street, and you’re invariably hit with the question: What are you listening to? It’s a rhetorical question, like How are you?, How was your day?, or Should Bloomberg be allowed to run for a third term? It’s something to break the ice, to get the conversation flowing.

Older friends keep their mouths shut. They don’t want to know. Newer friends and acquaintances haven’t learned yet. They ask the question with all the energy of an 8-month-old puppy. You know, that age when the cuteness of puppy-hood is beginning to wear off, he’s still chewing, and you’ll kill him if he goes near your irreplaceable copy of THE TOWERING INFERNO. Then they hear the answer.

Film music.

And they give you that look. You know the one. If they had no idea of your interest in film music, then they look at you like you have three heads. If they already knew but forgot the protocol, their eyes glaze over and every facial muscle goes dead, the eyes appear lifeless, and the body sags in anticipation of being exposed yet again to film music. Either way, you can almost see the words “Help me!” pop out on their forehead, like something out of THE EXORCIST.

That brief glimmer of hope that they would actually be interested quickens my heart rate and is usually just as quickly dashed. Depending on my mood, I may take pity on them and, like a gracious host, quickly maneuver the topic to something safer before they start flip-flopping, screaming “Mommy, mommy, make it stop!”

Then again, I may not. Woe to the friend who is subjected to my pontification on James Horner’s plagiarism of Prokofiev, a discourse on the Newman strings, or an analysis of rhythmic and melodic cells in the music of Bernard Herrmann.

Over the last 33 years, I’ve probably tried at some level to convert every friend over to the religion of film music. But, like trying to “change” a significant other, it’s been a pointless endeavor. Those of us who have drunk the purple Kool-Aid will gladly sacrifice sustenance to feed our musical obsession or cash in our 401(k) for an eBay copy of THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE.

As the title card for THE SONG OF BERNADETTE states:

For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.

How do your friends react to your love of film music?

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