the (almost) daily appreciator

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Everything I know about Music I learned watching Beavis and Butthead

Of course that is not entirely true. But the world of music is inextricably connected with movies and TV in my mind. I belong to the MTV-Generation and I see no problem in that, and I also loved filmmusic before I loved any other kind of music. So here are some random notes on coming-of-age-and-life, music and movies:

- my very first selfbought CD (I think even very first, period) was the soundtrack of "Backdraft" by Hans Zimmer, and I´ve been a very big fan of Hans Zimmer ever since. During a very hard time in my life I listened to that music as others would to Nirvana, come to think of it it´s as much part of the soundtrack of my life at that particular time as Nirvana (shortly after Cobains death), Marty Friedman´s "Scenes", Vangelis´"1492"-score, The Doors and others. When a very important friend of mine died, I listened to "Backdraft" after the funeral. I usually detect Zimmer´s signature even in music he hasn´t written - more often than not by people he has worked with. I still believe that Klaus Badelt is a pseudonym for him: honestly, "Pirates" sounds exactly like "Backdraft" blended with some swashbuckling music. The problem with Zimmer is that he´s everywhere: on TV, in movie trailers, especially "Backdraft", so many people have worked with him, and basically every actionmovie score sounds like a variation on "Backdraft". But sometimes he can still surprise and even elevate you, so here are his quintessential soundtracks: "Rain Man", "Backdraft", "The Rock", "The Lion´s King", "The Thin Red Line", "Gladiator" and the very first video MTV showed:"Video killed the Radio Star" - he did the keyboards.

- Kämen Rocks! (That´s a heavy-metal-umlaut) "Robin Hood" is one of the best scores, ever. The intro alone. "Die Hard" is the best actionmovie because amongst other things it has one of the greatest scores in that genre. I think it is safe to say that it introduced me to the awesomeness of Beethoven (together with...well later). And he actually really rocks - he did the orchestral arrangements for Pink Floyd´s "The Wall", Metallica´s "Nothing Else Matters" and "S&M"concert, the MTV 10th anniversary version of Aerosmith´s "Dream On", he worked with Kate Bush, Eurythmics, David Bowie, Queensryche and of course there´s the matter of his collaboration with Bryan Adams and others on filmsongs - which were for better or worse as much a fixture of 90s popculture as Techno, Gangstarap and Grunge. When I was on a school trip in 1991 we listened to "Everything I do..." and the 2LiveCrew. Bryan Adams for the Slowdance, "Me so horny" for..well being horny...

- Beethöven Rocks! One of the grand musical realizations of my youth was that classical music sounds a lot like filmmusic. So as a teenager I was more into classical music than Punk, Heavy Metal, Hip Hop or any other youth music. John Williams alone makes very classically sounding music: "Home Alone" sounds almost exactly like Tschaikowsky`s "Nutcracker". Michael Kamen is very good at integrating classical music into his scores - not just rockmusic. I had two defining moments related to classical music and movies: when I was 6 or 7 years old I saw "Amadeus", because of its dark tone I was traumatized into not liking Mozart for years (I still think he is vastly overrated - that goes to show you how powerful movies can be). When I was in my teens I saw "Bill & Ted´s excellent adventure" and I still think Beethöven rocks because he was the cool dude playing the guitar parts from Extreme´s "Play with me" on the keyboard in the mall. Rock´n`Roll!

- Wayne´s World! Wayne´s World! Party Time! Excellent! I think men of a certain generation still can´t listen to Queen´s "Bohemian Rhapsody" without singing and banging along...and Queen were one of the precursors of the modern music video with their "Bohemian Rhapsody"-promovideo.

- And on that note: Kamen and Queen=Highlander! "Here we are, born to be kings, we´re the princes of the universe...". Queen and soundtracks: "Flash Gordon", killing Zombies to "Don´t stop me now" in "Shaun of the Dead", "One Vision" on the "Iron Eagles"-soundtrack of all places and the list goes on.

- Music videos aren´t the worst way to start a movie career: David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Liv Tyler, Alicia Silverstone ("Clueless" was pretty good), Courtney Cox, Russel Mulcahy ("Highlander had awesome cinematography, and "Ricochet" wasn´t bad either), Mike Judge (sadly he only commented on the videos through Beavis & Butthead, but those comments were actually quite lucid, sometimes). And it wasn´t beneath Martin Scorsese and John Landis to make their mini-movies for Michael Jackson. To name just a few.

- Live Music Hall, club in Cologne, some time around 2000/2001, 80s party: Amongst all the U2, Madonna, Depeche Mode, "99 Luftballons", Michael Jackson, "Walking on sunshine", Tears for Fears, "I had the time of my life", "Don´t you forget about me", "Under Pressure", "Dancing with myself" and many other great songs by great musicians (honestly, why are the 80s so maligned culturally?), suddenly, a sound that is familiar but in this context a bit alien: "Axel F". I`m going to make a bold statement here: You haven´t partied if you haven´t tried dancing to "Axel F". And I´m not talking about generic moves with slight variations depending on the tempo of the song - no, I mean moving to the music...sober!

- (Jon) Bon Jovi can definitely write tunes. One of my favorites is "Blaze of Glory". It´s catchy, has a great melody, great guitar and great lines like: "When you´re brought into this world/ They say you´re born in sin/ Well, at least the gave me something/ I didn´t have to steal/ Or have to win". It´s simple all right and not overloaded with ambiguity - it might not be in the tradition of Dylan, but certainly Chuck Berry or even fellow-Jerseyan Springsteen. It fits the Western-theme (Billy the Kid) perfectly, but can also be read as about fame, about being an outcast...kinda like another great Bon Jovi-tune "Wanted dead or alive" (used in "Harvey Davidson and the Marlboro Man"). Also, the video: awesome - the guitar hero standing in front of the burning screen; the lightning in synch with the drums; as the movie scenes show the ignition of a fire, the screen starts burning - also very simple, but well done. One of the great movie songs, one of the great accompanying videos - both better than the movie (although Silvestris score is fine, not as great as his work for "Back to the future", but few scores are). The song is especially great to just sing and airguitar along to with friends at a party...

- I turned 30 a few months ago, but I felt the oldest a few weeks before my birthday: where I work are a lot of colleagues that are just 20 or 21 years old. One day I heard The Cardigans´ "Lovefool" on the radio, and I stood amongst these twens remembering when that song came out, and Leonardo DiCaprio wasn´t yet the megastar he would become but one might have been able to sense it happening, back then I was one of the older people in the audience of "Romeo and Juliet", there were a bunch of teenies that certainly didn´t watch it out of appreciation of Shakespeare - anyway, when that song came out I was the same age my colleagues are now, and that´s ten years ago - a fucking decade - man, I´m old.

I´m sure I could think of some more things, and maybe I will in the comment section, but that´s it for now. Hopefully anyone of the other bloggers will take us on a trip through memory lane and talk about the soundtrack of their lives...


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