In my observation and based on no data whatsoever, I’d say 75% of people don’t end up making a living doing what they originally envisioned as younger people. My major in college was Journalism & Mass Communications. I always wanted to either write or somehow be involved in television production (off camera). I did end up doing some freelance music writing in the ’90s for The Philadelphia Weekly, No Depression and a few other publications, but then my focus went more toward music itself. And here I am now, a VP-level E-commerce & Digital person. Makes total sense, right? Right.
But one job that I’ve always dreamt about through the years, regardless of what my profession was at the time, was that of a Music Supervisor. That’s a fancy title that basically means “the guy who picks music for large film or TV productions.”
Music normally plays a background role in films and TV and helps set a mood for the scene. A horror movie or a thriller will have a certain intensity, a deeper aura. A romantic comedy might have a lighter bed of music behind it. But I’m not really talking about background music (although a Music Supervisor does handle that). I’m talking about the use of popular songs in film, when it takes the lead to help tell the story. Used well, it can take what I’ve always thought of as a weak or overplayed song and turn it into a song I love, because it becomes tied to a memorable scene from a great movie. How? Because it stamps a visual into my head and I “see” and hear that song differently forever. Or maybe I’m just easily influenced.
And I’m not talking about the iconic ones – the “Layla” scene in GoodFellas, when The Doors “The End” plays during “Apocalypse Now” or “The Sound of Silence” for “The Graduate. Those are too easy. Let me give you a couple of examples of the ones I think about:
Lately, it seems Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line” is the song that is getting some kind of re-awakening. While laid up with COVID this week, I watched the entirety of HBO’s excellent “Euphoria” and their use of this song was really well-executed. I’ve never been over-the-moon about the song, but now that I have this image burned into my brain, I’m suddenly really enjoying it more than I ever thought I would.
The 1999 movie “The Virgin Suicides” is a movie that has stuck with me since I saw it. It’s wonderfully shot, a little trippy, odd, and their use of Heart’s “Magic Man” when introducing the character of Trip Fontaine transformed the song for me. I never really liked it until I saw it tied to this scene in this movie. Now I have it on certain playlists and enjoy the song very much, movie or not.
Lots of people’s minds also go right to Quentin Tarantino, whose use of music in his films is pretty superb. Major hat tip to THAT Music Supervisor, whoever it is. The one everyone thinks of is Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell,” which is the song used for the memorable John Travolta/Uma Thurman dance scene. But the song I’ve come to love is The Statler’s Brothers “Flowers on the Wall” in this scene.
Anyway, there’s so many more to choose from, but these pop into my mind right now. The power of video and storytelling really does have a way of turning songs I’m indifferent to into songs I love. I’d love to hear about some songs that you’ve come to appreciate after you seen them in a film or tv show.
We’ve had the opportunity to see some movies lately, a nice treat! Blurb reviews below:
First off, Meryl Streep is so utterly believeable, convincing and spectacular as a nun in Doubt that it doesn’t even occur to you that it’s actually Meryl Streep. She is such a great actress who seems to be able to transform herself into anything and do it flawlessly. The movie itself had a dark theme – a progressive priest (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) who is accused of sexual abuse in a 1960’s school by a traditional, hard-core disciplinarian nun (Streep). The movie doesn’t end with a little bow on top, so bonus points for it not being traditional Hollywood dreck. BONUS: 104 minutes, now nice is that?
If it IS traditional Hollywood dreck you are looking for, try He’s Just Not That Into You, the proverbial chick flick of the year. The cast is absolutely loaded with big names and the movie hops along breezily from scene to scene and story to story, focused on a set of Baltimore 20 and 30-somethings and their various quandries in the game of love. Jennifer Connelly, woefully out of place in a movie like this, turns in a great, neurotic performance and Ginnifer Goodwin (I’ve always liked her) is great as the spazzy chick desperate for love. Not a bad film if you’re looking for something effortless and predicable – sometimes you need a movie like that.
One of favorites of the year was Frost/Nixon, a Ron Howard movie that tells the story around the David Frost interviews of Richard Nixon a few years after Nixon resigned. If you’re a history buff like I am, this one is a no-brainer, you have to see it. Howard takes a cast of virtual no-names and creates an intense, interesting and pretty educational film. I had very little knowledge of the Frost-Nixon interviews previous to the movie and while I’m not planning on using the movie as my main source of knowledge about the sessions, it’s a good starting point. The movie is basically a story about how Frost, a Brit, landed the interviews and his initially breezy approach to it all. I’m unsure about how much of the story is true, but the interview scenes are taken verbatim and they are excellent.
Rachel Getting Married was another dark, dark drama about a twenty-something woman just out of rehab who is trying to insert herself back into a “normal” life with her family, whatever that is. Anne Hathaway (celebrity crush alert) plays the lead and she sparkles – it’s why she was nominated for Best Actress, I suppose. Anyway, the movie is tense and emotional from start to finish and also quite beautiful in its own way. The wedding scene was both sad and quite uplifting due to the great band and music scenes.
Tropic Thunder (which I watched alone) was flat-out ridiculous. Of course, I loved it. Robert Downey Jr playing a black man, Ben Stiller and many others make this movie very stupid but deliver enough laughs to keep you watching throughout. Downey was actually nominated for his role, too. I never – EVER – thought I would say this, but I’m saying it here: far and away the best actor in the movie was Tom Cruise. His bit part was so funny and so left-of-center for Cruise that you can’t help but sit there with your mouth open in amazement. It makes me truly believe that if Cruise did comedies for a few years – true comedies – he would have the comeback of all comebacks. He was that funny.