The Sountrack of Your Life

I love soundtracks. It started out with classic horror movies, which naturally expanded to include Italian horror and more contemporary fare, and now I’ll listen to just about any soundtrack to anything at least once, whether it’s orchestral or a song compilation. They are the best music in the world to paint to: you can bop along to “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” , warble with “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, swoon to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” or snap your fingers with “Crime Jazz: Music in the First Degree.” (Actually it’s pretty tough to snap your fingers and paint at the same time, you have to be a seasoned soundtrack painter to pull this off — don’t try this at home, kids.)

My friend Joe does album design for Film Score Silver Age Classics among others (I know they’re CDs but I’m still calling ’em albums dammit, and I for one really miss the larger format for album art). He’s laid some really fine discs on me over the years including the aforementioned “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” volumes 1 *and* 2 thank-you-very-much, “Planet of the Apes,” Born Free,” “Fantastic Voyage,” “Batman,” “I Spy,” and a bunch of others.

But one of my all time faves is “The Ghost & Mr. Chicken,” a Don Knotts movie that I don’t remember quite as well as “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” (which led to a brief period of drawing sexy cartoon fish when I was kid).

ghost&mrchix

The terrific score was composed by Vic Mizzy, who’s probably best known for the themes to “Green Acres” and “The Addams Family.” How can you not love an album when the first track is called “Gaseous Globe”? It’s got a great creepy organ solo in it that really sticks in your head. That seems to be a Mizzy specialty — head-sticky music, stuff you can’t shake out of your cranium for several days no matter how many times you listen to the new M.I.A. album.

My other fave funny/goofy soundtrack is “Mad Monster Party”, a Rankin-Bass stop-motion animated movie from the late 60’s. If you don’t know this movie, it’s worth a peep — Mad Magazine creator Harvey Kurtzman wrote it, and Jack Davis (also Mad Magazine as well as EC monster comics) designed the characters. This is one of those movies I saw as a kid and then spent twenty years trying to remember the name of (yeah I know, what is wrong with my brain?). When I found it again (originally on homemade VHS from eBay) I was insanely giddy. There’s an awesome skeleton band, a sexy redhead, and Phyllis Diller and Boris Karloff both *sing* in the movie (and on the soundtrack) — what more do you need to know? Run, don’t walk, to the video store (or your Netflix queue).

madmonsterphyllis

And speaking of soundtracks and monsters, my friend Steven was inspired by the paintings in the Monster Ballads show to come up with a “soundtrack” of beautiful ambient music/collaged sound/original compositions to listen to while you look at the paintings. He said I could share a bit of it with you here. I’ll post more if he lets me. <g>

Update 1/16/08: Another piece of Steven’s music for Monster Ballads is here.

And if you’re curious just who this Steven guy is, you can check out his MySpace page.

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6 responses to “The Sountrack of Your Life

  1. I’m a soundtrack junkie, too . I write all my first drafts with headphones in my head, and soundtracks are the quickest way dead into the heart of whatever tone or emotion I’m trying to capture. When I was writing medieval vampire romance novels, my hard drive was full of sweeping epic stuff – Gladiator, Braveheart, Last of the Mohicans, the 1988 version of Henry V, and all of the LOTR soundtracks. (Hearing the battle scene music from Gladiator can give me a nasty little thrill even now.)
    Zombelina her own self introduced me to a couple of compilation faves – William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, both volumes, and the soundtrack to the wonderfully creepy Lost Highway. Speaking of Baz Luhrmann, I’m also a huge fan of the Moulin Rouge! soundtracks, and speaking of Angelo Badalamenti, pretty much anything of his is inspiring – I particularly like The City of Lost Children. Vangelis’ soundtrack for Blade Runner is classic, and some of the music John Williams did for Harry Potter 3: The Prisoner of Azkhaban, is surprisingly grown-up and interesting, with a lot of authentic medieval instruments instead of his usual orchestra.
    Right now, I’m deeply, intimately involved with the full soundtrack to Sweeney Todd, and I’m also going through a Danny Elfman phase – I love the original Batman music and the Sleepy Hollow soundtrack is beautiful and intensely emotional, too.
    Great topic – I could prattle on this one forever.

  2. RE: Steven’s music – holy sh!t! This is gorgeous; it fits your paintings beautifully, but it stands alone, too. The sonata Beethoven heard inside his head when he was too far gone to write.
    I envy him his lusciously freaked-out piano, too. More, please – tell him the masses are clamoring.

  3. I know, I could natter away about soundtracks all day long too, I might have to revisit this subject in a month or so and see what we’re all listening to then. And yes I know — isn’t Steven’s music fantastic?!?! I’m trying to figure out if there’s some way to package the prints of paintings with a CD. And I’ve already started the begging process to get him to do music for the next show.

  4. Soundtracks are the greatest. Maybe it just stimulates creativity in the right way. When I was growing up, I used to listen to records on end that I found in parent’s collection and make little movies in my head to go with them. I still do this!

    One that I need track down was for a movie called “Viva Max!”, that had a great Jack Davis cover and contained dialogue bits by Jonathan Winters.

  5. I’m a soundtrack fiend. The Gost and Mr Chicken is the soundtrack I listen to while shopping. I usually have all my groceries in the basket by the end of the main title.

  6. Pingback: R.I.P. Vic Mizzy « i feel it too

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