This entry examines one of the classic pop songs of the 50s. In fact, this version of Wheel of Fortune, written by Bennie Benjamin and George David Weiss, is the cover song of the 1951 original performed by American jazz singer Johnny Hartman. Kay Starr’s stirring number out a year later was given a special verve by the versatile pop and jazz singer in her rendition. Her biggest hit, #1 for 10 weeks, tied together two critically acclaimed film adaptations, each of whom lost out big time come awards season, fourteen years apart.
To start the new year of 2015 right, I thought to highlight a well-known (and well used) piece of Baroque music by one of the all-time great classical composers. Johann Sebastian Bach. His instantly recognizable Toccata and Fugue in D Minor a thundering piece, and one of the most famous works in the organ repertoire of the era (1600-1750). Once heard, likely one of most ominous too. Used many times over in cinema by a plethora of filmmakers for decades, two of which come instantly and contrastingly to mind.
Sharing similarities in key and melody with the famous Phil Spector-produced work, Don’t Worry Baby was primarily about duos. The singer about to race a rival, drag racing in relevance to his girlfriend, and the heart and soul relationship existing between the girl and singer. It’s why, after a good number of years, the song continues to work well with lovers. In this case, Wilson’s longtime hit from 1964 was used in a tender, harmonious context for two different movies, song versions, and the manner deployed in a pair of scenes.
Built almost entirely around Roeser’s stellar guitar riff — it being the one song I taught my children how to air guitar as toddlers (much to their mother’s chagrin) — the track has gathered fans from each subsequent decade thereafter. Certainly, enough to collect movie acclaim over the years. If you listened to the lyrics carefully, that is. Two of which utilized the driving barre chords and the poetry of the lyrics to great effect from two distinct and contrary decades. The tune reverberated best in a pair of films from the 70s and 90s in striking backdrops by two wholly different directors dealing with death in their films.
Continuing my thoughts from February regarding the use of song in film, “needle dropped” tunes are not officially considered part of a film score — those orchestral, choral, or instrumental pieces some consider background music. Both are equally utilized as cues by filmmakers for a specific purpose or to elicit certain reactions by the audience. I’m fascinated by this in general, and movie soundtracks have long intrigued me. A convergence of the music and film arts I’ve allocated much time toward. Some (not all) movie soundtracks have incorporated those songs the director or music programmer have showcased in their movie along with the film’s score.
Continuing my thoughts from February regarding the use of song in film, “needle dropped” tunes are not officially considered part of a film score — those orchestral, choral, or instrumental pieces some consider background music. I think both are utilized as cues by filmmakers for a specific purpose or to elicit certain reactions by the audience. I’m fascinated by this in general, and movie soundtracks have specifically intrigued me.