Riding in Cars with Scores
It’s a two lane road. I’m stopped at an intersection. The outside world is loud and thumpin’. The man in the ‘stang next to me is blasting Iron Maiden, “The Wicker Man” to be precise, while the girl in the Prius behind me is “Jammin’” with Bob Marley. (“And I hope you like jammin’ too!”) Me? I’m in a bubble of my own, not at this intersection, but with John Williams on Isla Nublar, watching a Brachiosaurus leap up to nibble on a leaf as the joyful sounds of “Journey to the Island” transport me to this fictional realm that is much better than our own.
Often, I find myself on my lunch hour, sitting in the car, listening to a random soundtrack of my choosing whilst escaping the mundanity of the daily 8 hour grind for 60 wonderful minutes. Words cannot describe how uplifting this exorcise is and the positive effects it has on my daily morale. But I’ll just say this. It makes me feel upbeat and ready to conquer the day, which is an invaluable feeling.
Since this is the digital frontier and I have the Amazon Music app at my fingertips, I can listen to anything I want. I choose film scores.
Don’t get me wrong! I enjoy what most would call “normal music.” And I do love my Rush, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, older Metallica, Gorillaz, Alice Cooper, the list goes on. But if I were to be honest, they don’t have the power to transport me to other worlds. Scores do.
Lightning strikes! Thunder clasps! Raindrops trickle on my windshield. Click! Clack! Vangelis is on. It’s the bluesy atmosphere of the Blade Runner soundtrack, “Rachel’s Song” to be precise. It’s a track that is unique to the album, not at all in the film, “Rachel’s Song.” The car I’m driving is no longer a car, but the flying hydro-spinner, splashing through a foggy, rainy realm. Every time I spot a neon sign, even if it says McDonalds, I’m in Blade Runner bliss.
On the other hand, turning the corner with Danny Elfman’s “Batman to the Rescue,” makes you feel like you’re in a high speed car chase as you cruise along at 35mph. And while we’re in the car, pull up to intersection blasting John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13. You’ll feel like a badass. (Or a bad guy, if you’ve seen the movie.)
Speaking of Carpenter, he has scored many of my night drives, as his recent Anthology album has been a go-to spin if I am out and about during the dark hours. At the Mouth of Madness sets the tone as a rocking tune while Christine is cool, but erie, like I’m in minimalist sci-fi/horror flick from the 80s. It’s even better with the GPS. As the voice appears, telling you to “Turn Left on Whatever Street,” it sounds like the opening narration from Escape from New York. (“Call me ‘Snake!’)
But why stop at film scores? Try watching the sun set themed to the title screen track from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a beautiful moment in life scored by a sweet, tender cue. You might even feel like you’re in Hyrule Field at dusk. Meanwhile, just about any 16bit track will make any mundane task feel important and rewarding. No, seriously, after hours at work one night, we put on a CD with music from the original Legend of Zelda, and it made us feel like we were working in a shop from an old school video game. Gotta stock up on your potions, guys! (I guess that makes me an NPC?)
Scores have power outside their films. They live and breath on their own and just like books, movies, and video games, they have the power to amplify your day, lift your spirit, and make you feel awesome, heroic, adventurous, romantic, and a great many other things.
They make you feel like you’re in a movie.