Thursday, August 20, 2015

Western Theme Music

As a genre, Westerns have some of the best theme music.  Here from The Magnificent Seven (1959):

There is something quite moving, a grand, sweeping musical statement.   Or just a sense of quiet conscience.  From High Noon (1951):

Some Western themes, like some of these here, became pop hits.  From The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962):

And some are just musically pure that we could lump them among classical music.  From The Alamo (1960) 

And here from Stagecoach (1939): 

And here from The Big Country (1959):

They suggest a big country, with great drama, and great promise.


Caftan Woman said...

For years the only thing I liked about "The Magnificent Seven" was Bernstein's score. I've grown fonder of the film after seeing "Seven Samurai" and acknowledging what they were up against in a re-do.

Your selections are perfect and evoke such strong memories, especially "The Big Country". I always tell the family when that movie airs that I'll just tune in for the opening theme, but they know I'm in it for the long haul.

Others: "How the West Was Won" and "Dances With Wolves".

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Oh, yeah, "The Magnificent Seven" has become iconic.

This post came about because several weeks ago I woke up in the wee hours and couldn't fall back to sleep, so I snapped on the radio next to my bed. I listen to a classical music station, but instead of my old pal Bach, the host played a selection of these Western movie themes, and I was astonished at how musically rich they were when you're just listening to the music at 3:00 in the morning and not looking at movie opening credits.

Yvette said...

I think the credits AND music from THE BIG COUNTRY are in the top ten of movie credits of all time. How's that? What a great topic, Jacqueline! Great western soundtracks add SO MUCH to the film. When I was a kid growing up in Manhattan, all I wanted was to ride a horse to the sound of a western soundtrack. :)

I love THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN music too. Elmer Bernstein's masterpiece.

To your list I'd add the stirring soundtrack to SILVERADO - which I listen to all the time just because. RED RIVER, if I'm remembering correctly, also had a great score.

And of course, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY - though I could never bring myself to actually watch the movie. :)

DANCES WITH WOLVES too had a beautiful score.

ONE-EYED JACKS, too had a tremendous score.

Okay, enough. These are just off the top of my head. Loved this post.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

I love these Western music theme suggestions. I didn't know there were so many we could add to the list.

And this: "When I was a kid growing up in Manhattan, all I wanted was to ride a horse to the sound of a western soundtrack. :)..." Yvette, if you want to rent a pony, I'll run along side you with a portable CD player blaring THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.

Yvette said...

Jacqueline, I needed a laugh this morning and this was it. HA! I have a mental picture of me on horseback and you running alongside. SO funny. Blast that CD loudly, Kiddo!! And we're OFF!!

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Heigh-ho, Silver!

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Of course you know I agree with you here. :) A couple other favorites nobody's mentioned are John Williams' THE COWBOYS, Moross' THE PROUD REBEL (which I've grown to love as much as THE BIG COUNTRY) and the gorgeous opening theme from RIO GRANDE.

And yes, RED RIVER is a good one too - I never really paid too much attention to the music until a recent re-watch, but now I like it quite a bit, especially the way it weaves in folksongs linked to events in the story.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thanks for chiming in with more favorites, Elisabeth. How wonderful that the composers and arrangers who created these theme songs and scores would have their work so appreciated by classic film fans for years to come.

Rick29 said...

Some great clips. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is truly one of the great scores of any genre.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Yes, indeed, Rick.

Roger Allen said...

I'm surprised no-one has mentioned Ennio Morricone whose extraordinarily inventive scores for Spaghetti Westerns and others would be avant-garde in a concert hall.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Good point, Roger. I must admit the only one I'm familiar with is THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY, but I'm sure other readers are fans of his work. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

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