Tag Archives: Movie Soundtrack

The Movie “Once” and Commitment to your Artistry

null I love movies about music/musicians, and I had heard great things about the movie Once, but didn’t get around to seeing it until recently. It’s about a singer/songwriter who performs on the streets of Ireland while working in a vacuum cleaner repair shop by day. He meets a piano player and they collaborate to bring their musical aspirations to life.

The storyline of artists struggling to develop their God-given talents pursue the dream in a world where the deck is stacked against them never gets old for me. It also brings to mind the reality of how committed one must be to overcome those odds. I once asked vocalist Irma Thomas, known as the “Soul Queen of New Orleans” what she did when times in the music business got tough. She stated simply, ” I went out and got a job.” Sometimes it’s that simple, but it’s never easy.

The movie also avoids so many of the typical movie clichés, making it more real and believable. It’s magical in its understated simplicity.

And the storyline mirrors the career of the musician who co-wrote the soundtrack and who played the lead role in the movie, Glen Hansard, who dropped out of school at age 13 to perform on the streets of Dublin and is now a successful songwriter and Academy award winner.

So you say you love music. That’s great. But when time are tough, you must ask yourself, “How committed am I and what am I willing to do to overcome the obstacles in front of me?

Here’s a performance of the Oscar-winning song “Falling Slowly” at the Sundance Film Festival.

Rocky without the Music of Bill Conti – Fuggetaboutit!

So what does a guy named Cortello do upon his first visit to the City of Brotherly Love back in 1995? Walk in the footsteps of one of Philly’s most famous natives, Rocky Balboa. You might not have the same affinity for the movie that I do, but there’s a history here. When the original Rocky movie was released, I was 12 years old. My cousin and I would visit the “2nd run” movie theater in our neighborhood and stay and watch the movie over and over.

I told my son the story and had the joy of bringing him to the movies to see Rocky Balboa (or Rocky VI if you’re counting) in 2006. Although you know it’s coming and even though you’ve seen it before, the workout scene when the Rocky theme song (a.k.a. “Gonna Fly Now) begins to play still brings chills down my spine.

Because some of the successive movies in the Rocky series were so “over the top” so to to speak, it’s easy to forget how special that movie was, especially for its time. The movie garnered 10 Academy award nominations and 3 wins, including Best Picture and Best Director. All of these accomplishments came on a shoestring budget estimated at just over $1 million, and it spawned an era of movies about underdogs overcoming great odds.

And yes, one of those nominations was for Best Music, Original Song by Bill Conti (music), and Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins (lyrics – though the instrumental version is more well known, there was a vocal version as well).

My point in the context of this blog is that the scene that I am referencing (or scenes if you’re referring to the series) and the music that accompanies those scenes are inseparable. You simply can’t imagine it without the music.

(Side note: At one time, a statue of Rocky was dedicated at that location atop the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. After some art aficionados (or snobs?) complained, the statue was moved and placed at the stadium known as the Spectrum, but eventually returned to a grassy area aside the museum. At the top of the steps you will now find a set of Converse sneaker footprints, where tourists like me convene to stand in Rocky’s shoes!

The only reference that I could find to Rocky at the Philly Museum of Art Website was in these driving directions:

From the Art Museum

  • From the intersection of Art Museum Drive and Kelly Drive, turn right and pass in front of the Museum by the Rocky statue.)

The Music of our Veterans of the United States Armed Forces

When my father was alive, he loved a great musical. In particular, the performance of James Cagney as George M. Cohan in the film Yankee Doodle Dandy. Last year, one of the great old single-screen theaters here in New Orleans that is experiencing a re-birth of sorts, the Prytania Theater, ran the film over the Independence Day weekend, and I had the thrill of watching the movie with my 12 year-old son – the favorite movie of his grandfather whom he’d never met.

George M. Cohan received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1936 for the inspiration that his songs such as “Grand Old Flag” and “Over There” provided to our troops during WWI, and Cagney won an academy award for his performance of Cohan in 1942. On this day when we remember those who lost their lives in the service of our nation, I have posted this medley of Cohan’s songs that demonstrate the power of music in inspiring patriotism, including still photos from the movie:

Here’s the link to a brief clip from the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy and the exceptional performance of Cagney.