Classical music has been a part of my life for a long, long time. The first piece I fell in love with was “A Theme From A Summer Place” by Percy Faith Orchestra. My mom had the 45. She skated to it as a teen and would listen to it when cleaning the house when I was little. I loved the sound, it seemed to tell a story through whimsical strings and cheerful flutes.
Next for me was the film score.
I love film scores. As much as I love soundtracks. And there have been many to land a place in my heart over the years. Among some of my most favorite, those by the masterful John Barry. John Williams and Hans Zimmer are incredible, but something about Barry’s music connects with me. It reaches into my soul and wraps around my heart.
What are some of my favorites you ask? Well…
“Peggy Sue Got Married” – I literally can not listen to this piece without tearing up. I just can’t. I loved this movie so much. It would be years before Nicholas Cage got all weird on us, but I will always love him for being Charlie in this incredible movie by his uncle Francis Ford Coppola about a woman who passes out at her high 25 year high school reunion, only to wake up in her senior year and either make the same choice twice, which included marrying her high school sweetheart to whom she is in the middle of divorcing, or set out on a new fate. The hairs on my arms stand up at the 1:39 mark and whenever I hear this I see Peggy Sue (played by Kathleen Turner) entering her childhood bedroom, surrounded by innocence and a connection to a life she seems to have lost over the past 25 years. The emotion that fills her as her sister Nancy enters the room (played by Coppola’s daughter Sophia, long before she would give us The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette) is palpable and a lump forms in my throat every. single. time.
“Out of Africa” – one of the first real love stories I remember seeing. My mom was obsessed with it. Robert Redford is in it, so well yeah, even I can understand her appeal to the film. But it wasn’t until years later that I sat down to watch it with a more mature look on life, that I really understood the story. It is absolutely beautiful and the incredible Meryl Streep does an amazing job as the Danish baroness/plantation owner that has a passionate love affair with a free-spirited big-game hunter played by Robert Redford. It is an incredibly moving film, set against the breathtaking beauty of Kenya. Barry’s score captures the love kindled between the two, and the magnificent beauty of Africa. Listen and you tell me if you get goosebumps at the 1:10 mark.
“Dances with Wolves” – I have always had a deep fascination with the Native American people. When my sister and I were little, we’d ride in local parades as cowboys and Indians. Once we rode together, she was the cowgirl of the Wild West and me the young Indian girl. She rode her Paint horse and I our Palomino. Yes, the horse is called a Paint. Look it up. I wore moccasins and yes I even wore a feather in my hair. I will spare you the picture, but it was really fun and such a great memory. In high school our mascot was a Redskin. I was in sports. I was an avid supporter of our school pride. We beat the tribal drum during homecoming week 24/7, taking rotations through the day and night. I never felt a sense of shame for the gorgeous embroidery of the Native American Chief on the back of my letter-man’s jacket or when we painted our faces in “war paint” when supporting the team on Friday nights. Of course I understand now those activities are more insulting than prideful, but at the heart of it all was a curiosity of a people who as years go by, seem to be more and more forgotten. It would be years later that my fascination turned into real pride when I married someone whose father was Native American, born on Cherokee Nation. My son carries Cherokee blood and it has become a passion of mine to find out as much as I can about his ancestors so that he can teach his children and they theirs, so the Native American people are never forgotten.
There are few movies about Native Americans that I can stomach but one that I really did love was “Dances With Wolves.” I had a huge crush on Kevin Costner at the time so it didn’t hurt that he was in it. But, I must have listened to that score a thousand times over the years. It is so beautiful and moving and I can’t help but see the Great Plains and scores of buffalo roaming its hills when I hear it.
“Indecent Proposal” – you know the movie. Diana (played by Demi Moore) is paid a million dollars to spend the night with billionaire John Gage (played by Robert Redford). Diana and her husband David (played by Woody Harrelson) need the money to save their half finished dream home from being foreclosed on by the bank and so they think, big deal, it’s one night. But well, everything unravels and turns to shit and its a crazy concept that was at the heart of one of my most favorite movies of that decade and even today, when I hear this piece from the score, I can see David losing his mind, trying to get to Diana in time to tell her the deal is off….just in time to see her depart with Gage.
Have I ever told you I loved you?
And now well, these days I also love opera. And that took years to appreciate. But that’s a post for another day. For now, enjoy this trip down memory lane, compliments of movies from the 80s and 90s.