Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on September 23, 2010
I grew up with parents who loved music and many of their favorite records were film soundtracks. On any given evening you could hear popular songs from movie musicals like West Side Story (1961), My Fair Lady (1964), Hello Dolly! (1969) and Camelot (1967) coming from my home. Ennio Morricone’s score for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) was one of my father’s favorites while my mother loved listening to Maurice Jarre’s score for Doctor Zhivago (1965). Title tracks like Gene Pitney’s’ (The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance (recorded after the film was released) also got a lot of play at my house and both of my parents were big fans of Simon and Garfunkel’s soundtrack for The Graduate (1967). When I was a kid we didn’t have access to videos or DVDs so records provided my parents with a wonderful way to share some of their favorite movies with me. I heard the soundtrack recordings for many of these films long before I ever saw them.
As I got older I continued to collect records and developed my own taste in music but I always maintained an interest in film soundtracks. Some of the first records I ever bought for myself were soundtracks for films I liked such as the John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John musical Grease (1978), The Who’s rock opera Quadrophenia (1979) and the teenage drama Over the Edge (1979) that featured songs by Cheap Trick, The Cars, Van Halen, The Ramones and Jimmi Hendrix. As I got older I developed an interest in synthesizers and my musical tastes become more adventurous so I started purchasing things like Wendy (aka Walter) Carlos’ soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange (1971). A good film score could enhance my appreciation of a movie and occasionally it would lead me to explore musical genres that I probably would have never discovered on my own. A great example of this involves my introduction to classical music thanks to a bizarre double bill of Amadeus (1984) with The Terminator (1984) that played at a small local movie theater. I paid to see James Cameron’s sci-fi extravaganza but I always stayed for the second feature and this time it was Milos Forman’s moving biopic about the composer Mozart. I had never been exposed to classical music before but Amadeus changed that. After seeing the movie I immediately rushed out and bought my first Mozart record (as well as a copy of Brad Fiedel’s impressive score for The Terminator!) and I slowly began to gain interest in other classical composers such as Beethoven, Liszt and Chopin. That same year Francis Ford Coppola’s jazz age drama The Cotton Club (1984) inspired me to seek out the music of Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway. A few years later I developed an interest in Chet Baker as well as modern jazz after seeing the wonderful Academy-Award nominated documentary Let’s Get Lost (1988). I don’t have any children of my own but if I did I would encourage them to watch lots of musicals and music documentaries. I can’t think of a better way to inspire young children and teenagers to develop an appreciation of music.
In the ’90s my record collecting took a backseat to my CD purchases. Many great scores were released on CD and I was able to easily purchase copies of scores for movies I loved such as Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Shaft (1971) and Dario Argento’s horror film Suspiria (1977). But as more and more record stores disappeared or replaced their inventory with CDs, I started to miss the feel and look of record albums. In the late ’90s I really needed some money so I decided to sell most of my records. I was happy with the money I made so I didn’t regret my decision and since then I’ve replaced many of my favorite records with CDs. But after a 10-year hiatus I recently started to buy records again.
It all started after my recent move. My husband and I have been furnishing our new house with lots of thrift shop finds and Goodwill discoveries. While hunting for home furnishings my husband started looking through the dusty record bins that seemed to occupy the dark corners of every store we visited. He finally bought an inexpensive record player and started to pick up records whenever he spotted a good deal on something he liked. At first I didn’t pay much attention but one day he came across a nice copy of Glenn Yarbrough’s Baby the Rain Must Fall for 10 cents and he asked me if I was interested in it. I had recently written a piece about the 1965 movie of the same name for TCM and at the time I had mentioned how much I liked Yarbrough’s version of the title song from the film. I picked up the record and the weight of the thing felt great in my hands. My head started filling with memories of all the soundtrack albums I had owned over the years and how much I had enjoyed them. I just couldn’t resist buying the record. For a mere dime I now own Baby the Rain Must Fall on vinyl complete with cover notes featuring “An Appreciation of Glenn Yarbrough” written by the American composer and poet Rod McKuen. I had suddenly become a record buyer again.
Since purchasing Baby the Rain Must Fall I’ve continued to browse used record bins looking for film scores and soundtracks, but before purchasing any more vintage vinyl I decided to make a few rules for myself.
1) I will only purchase soundtracks or film scores.
That way I’m able to enjoy my soundtrack collecting hobby with minimal guilt and very little wear on my wallet. You might think that the rules I made for myself would limit my record hunting enjoyment but nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve had to pass up a few albums that caught my eye but I’ve also come across a some wonderful finds in the last couple of months.
One of my most interesting recent purchases was a boxed collection of George Gershwin 45s from the MGM musical An American in Paris (1951) bought for a quarter. I love Vincent Minnelli’s musicals and An American in Paris is one of his best. The previous owner obviously loved these records too because they’re well cared for and there’s even a typed tag still taped to the inside of the box marking the date that the 45s were originally purchased (February 7, 1952). This makes it really fun to imagine who the previous owner might have been. Two of my rarest recent finds were copies of Francis Li scores for the Claude Lelouch films A Man and a Woman (Un homme et une femme; 1966) and Live for Life (Vivre pour vivre; 1967). I’m really fond of Lei’s score for the exceptional French drama A Man and a Woman so I was thrilled to come across the record selling for a dime at a Goodwill store. I’ve never seen Lelouch’s Live for Life but after listening to the score I’m eager to give the movie a look. CD copies of Francis Lai’s score for A Man and a Woman sell for as much as $40 so my 10-cent purchase was a real find. I’m currently eager to get myself copies of all the soundtrack albums my parents owned so I can enjoy them on vinyl again but I’m determined to try and stick to my record buying rules so it might take me awhile to locate them.
Collecting soundtracks might seem like an unusual hobby but if you love movies as much as I do you’d be surprised by how inexpensive it is to start your own record collection. All you need is a handful of change and an inexpensive turntable to get started. Thanks to a combination of nostalgia and economics, vinyl records have been making a big comeback lately. Many kids who grew up with CDs and digital downloads are discovering the pleasure of owning vinyl and older folks like myself seem to be returning to their musical roots. Record companies like Polydor and RCA in the US as well as new companies like Finders Keepers and Trunk Records in Britain continue to reissue soundtracks for many movies on vinyl so even if you can’t find what you’re looking for in used record bins you can still purchase new LPs to add to your collection. According to a PBS news story earlier this year titled ”Vinyl is Dead, Long Live Vinyl” record sales have really started to soar recently. The music industry made 2.5 million in vinyl record sales during 2009, which isn’t bad for a product that many have declared dead for years. I even noticed that a new record store selling vintage ‘60s vinyl has recently opened up not far from where I live. The owners will obviously only be selling to a small niche market but it was extremely encouraging to see a record store opening up in this economy. Vinyl is definitely alive and kicking!
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