BioBooksAwardsComing NextContactBlogFun StuffHome

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Soundtracks and Memories

I mentioned on Thursday that I bought the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz and I'll confess now that I love soundtracks.

Movie soundtracks are great when I write to music because most of them are instrumental, designed to enhance the movie rather than call attention to itself. That doesn't mean it isn't great stuff, just that it's role isn't to scream listen to me. Perfect for me because I can find myself too easily distracted by sounds/noise when I'm writing. It just occurred to me that I should create a playlist titled Writing Music.

My favorite soundtracks, though, are from musicals--either Broadway or Hollywood. Although when it comes to movie musicals, I prefer the old days of Hollywood like The Wizard of Oz era.

Currently, I have the songs from 1776 going through my head. I've been singing one or the other for about a week now, but my collection of show tunes is fairly impressive. Some of them I don't listen to that often--okay, most of them--but sometimes I just get a tune stuck in my head and I have go back and listen to the entire soundtrack again. It isn't just a listening experience for me, it also brings back the story that the music is part of.

Maybe that's why I don't own many soundtracks from musicals I haven't seen. (I've got a couple, but usually it's for one song that I've heard over and over somewhere.) Because the music becomes so intertwined with story for me that they're inseparable.

When I hear the opening song from Guys and Dolls, I see the actors and actresses moving down the streets of New York, the police trying to stop the scammers after tourist dollars, and Sergeant Sarah with her Salvation Army troop trying to save souls.

When I hear I wish from Into the Woods, I can see the stage, see the costumes, and remember the humor. I remember having trouble finding a parking lot near the Ordway Theater in St. Paul and I recall wondering if the play was over at intermission because it seemed complete. I also remember the second half of the play (yes, there was an intermission) and how dark the play became. Still fascinating, but not appropriate for the young children some people had brought to the theater.

When I hear The Impossible Dream from The Man of La Mancha, I remember standing in line at the half price ticket sales place on Times Square, I remember the surprising smallness of the theatre which gave the performance an intimacy and made it uncomfortable to sit because the rows were so tight to each other. But I also remember being entranced by the story, the sets, the costumes.

It's more than music then that I'm listening to--it's the complete experience that goes with seeing a production--and maybe this counts as magic, too.