Thursday, June 30, 2011

Forgotten Music Thursday: Thelma & Louise - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1991)

A few years ago I wrote about Mark Knopfler's soundtrack to the movie Local Hero. It featured some of my all time favorite movie music and it just happened to accompany one of my all time favorite flicks. Back in 1983 I believed the situation was unique, but then the same thing happened again in 1991 with Thelma & Louise. Not only is Ridley Scott's picture another one of my most loved films it too has a soundtrack that moves me just as much as the film does. Because lightning struck twice I now firmly believe that great music and a great film will definitely complement each other.

The eleven track CD is a real mixture of styles. It offers blues from B.B. King (a fine performance of "Better Not Look Down)" some R & B from Martha Reeves (a soulful cover of Van Morrison's "Wild Nights"), and British invasion star Marianne Faithful delivered "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" with lyrics by Shel Silverstein. Country singer Kelly Willis belts out a tough sounding "Little Honey."

The late Chris Whitley contributed the hard country-rocker "Kick The Stones." Charlie Sexton, who is cut from the same cloth, was allowed two spots: first with "Badlands" a song with some great electric guitar riffage (Is that a word?) and the more country influenced "Tennessee Plates."

Film composer Hans Zimmer, who scored the original music for the movie, closes things out with the instrumental "Thunderbird," a tune that was a bonus track on the CD and not available on the cassette version that was released at the same time. Pete Haycock, former lead guitarist for Climax Blues Band, plays tuneful slide guitar on this piece that runs with the final credits.

It's great that Scott found space for artists who were not well known such as Whitley, Sexton, Toni Childs, and Grayson Hugh, but fittingly, the highlight of the CD is its opening track by a member of the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. Glenn Frey's Part of Me, Part of You, is six minutes of acoustic rock featuring his wonderfully smooth voice. It's a very moving song because of it's relationship to the plot and the closeness the title characters shared right up to their very sad ending. This track, by the former Eagles' leader, won't mean as much to anyone who hasn't seen the film but, to those of us who grew to love these nice girls who suddenly turned into reluctant outlaws, the song is quite emotional. It's among the best songs Frey has ever written.

The only questionable track on the CD is a result of Faithful's quite troublesome vocals. Age has not been kind to her voice but Silverstein's song is a good one so its still worthy of a listen.

In addition to Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis the movie also featured Harvey Keitel in a supporting role and let's not forget Brad Pitt's small but extremely important appearance. Pitt's character sets up the crucial turning point in the film that has also been cited as the turning point in his career.

While Thelma & Louise was both critically acclaimed and a box office success it's music has been unjustly forgotten.

Let's close things out by listening to Part of Me, Part of You.

1 comment:

  1. There are a handful of movies that have benefitted from great soundtracks: Almost Famous, Stand By Me, Forrest Gump, Mr. Holland's Opus, Cocktail, and Dirty Dancing all come to mind.

    With Cocktail I'd even argue the soundtrack has held up better over time than the movie itself did!

    There are certain directors who have a knack for choosing the perfect music for their films or who at least take the time and energy to carefully consider and choose the music. I'd say all directors do this to SOME extent some are just better at it than others. Ridley Scott and Cameron Crowe come to mind as directors that have a knack for finding the right music for their films.

    Then there are the director/composer combos that go together like peanut butter & jelly or mac & cheese... Cubby Broccoli & John Barry (the Bond Films), Steven Speilberg & John Williams (a list too long to even begin!) Sergio Leone & Ennio Morricone or more recently Giuseppe Tornoatore & Ennio Morricone, Robert Zemeckis & Alan Silvestri (in particular the Back to the Future trilogy).