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Music and Movies

October 22, 2008

I recently watched a documentary, Full Moon Lightnin, about the blues but the movie got me thinking about how much music alters my emotional state when watching a film. Had the same events occurred in a documentary about country music, would I have tuned in so intensely?

And because I have been listening to the blues way too much this week, I was feeling a little run down and picked up my Nat King Cole CD for comfort. One of Cole’s greatest songs came from silent film star Charlie Chaplin.

That got me thinking even more about sound in film and what was lost and what was gained once sound came to movies. Ironically, one of the last great holdouts on the sound movement was Charlie Chaplin, who ended up writing one of my favorite scores, later turned into one of my favorite songs, of all time.

For the 1936 class Modern Times, Chaplin wrote ‘Smile.” While the lyrics were not written until later and only the score appears in the film, you can hear that familiar tune within the movie and realize how not only does music influence film, but film can influence music. We hear of songs being written for film, but what about songs inspired by film?

In 1954 Nat King Cole performed what became one of his classic hits, Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Smile.’

Smile though your heart is aching;
Smile even though it’s breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by.
If you smile through your fear and sorrow,
Smile and maybe tomorrow,
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you.

Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever so near,
That’s the time you must keep on trying,
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile,
If you just smile.

Instrumental Interlude

That’s the time you must keep on trying,
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

And if you are waiting for a point to this rambling, there isn’t one..just began thinking about the building blocks of art and the intricate nature of all creative forms.

What score have we heard recently that will later be put to lyrics and become an all time favorite classic? What great musician has yet to be born or discovered that may create that?

To be honest, I really don’t know much about scores or songs in films, but I am going to start exploring this more on the blog and hope you will join me in sharing some of your favorite music from film.

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