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Alex Clare: Too Close

I was sat in front of my laptop last night finishing off In My Life I Loved You More. when  I decided to listen to some music and one of the first tracks up on my iTunes library was this track by Alex Clare.

First Up
First Up

Clearly I like it otherwise it wouldn’t be in my music library. It got me to thinking about movie soundtracks. I know many times in a movie theater my thoughts have turned away momentarily from the screen and my attention is focused on the music. I wonder how many of you think the same as me in that situation. I have often thought “I must buy that music.” Movies are all about setting moods. Indeed good writers copy this by setting a mood through words not by visual effects. The soundtrack of a movie is a further aid to setting the mood.Too Close by Alex Clare was part of the soundtrack of Taken 2. Not the best of the Taken trilogy. The song was first released in the UK in 2011 but did nothing sales wise until 2012 when it was used in a commercial for Microsoft’s launch of Internet Explorer 9. Taken 2 was also released in 2012 and that is when I first heard the track. It has a hard edge to it and that perfectly complements the mood in the movie.

It is not just songs from the movies that have made me go out and buy or rather these days download a track. TV drama series have that effect on me too. The best example of that is HBO’s The Sopranos.

The Sopranos received considerable critical attention for effective use of an eclectic array of music. The series creator  David Chase personally selected all the show’s music, with the producer Martin Bruestle and music editor Kathryn Dayak—sometimes also consulting Steven Van Zandt, who portrays Silvio Dante on the show and is also a guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. They often selected music after completing an episode’s production and editing, but occasionally filmed sequences to match pre-selected pieces of music.

There is so much good music within the series and certainly too much to list here. Eclectic is the key word in describing the wide styles of artists and genres used in the series ranging from Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald at one end of the spectrum to hip hop artists Xzibit and Time Zone at the other.

For me two pieces of music are the stand-outs. In the opening credits for each episode, Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) drives from New York City to his home in North Caldwell, New Jersey. The musical accompaniment for this segment is the “Chosen One Remix” of the song “Woke Up This Morning” by the British group Alabama 3 (known in the United States as A3 for legal reasons). Even if I was watching an episode for the umpteenth time I would never skip the atmospheric opening credits with the shots of industrial NJ morphing into the old neighborhood morphing into Tony Soprano’s pseudo mansion out in the affluent suburbs. “Woke Up This Morning” is the perfect accompaniment to Tony’s drive home. Indeed the visuals and the music complement each other. Neither one is quite the same without the other and if you click on the link you will understand what I mean. For copyright reasons the song accompanied by the opening credits is not available on You Tube. The song alone pales into insignificance without the iconic NJ opening scenes.

Often listening to music whether movies or TV drama it’s a case for me of a) I love it and have it already b) I love it and even though it’s an old classic I must go and add it to my library or c) it’s completely new to me and I must add it.

Into that last category falls another Sopranos track R.L. Burnside’s “It’s Bad You Know”.

A fan of blues music from an early age I just love the “feel” of this song. I certainly don’t love it for its lyrics as the words in the title are constantly repeated. But it’s the combination of the voice, the beautiful harmonica playing and the percussion that does it for me. It takes me back to a day when I used to sing “Smokestack Lighting” by Howling Wolf in a band. My singing career did not last long but it has never stopped me enjoying music!

In the meantime I hope you share my enjoyment of Alex Clare and R.L. Burnside.

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  1. Adam Lawrence Adam Lawrence

    Shared this on twitter, Steve. One of the best pieces of yours I’ve read. (And as far as the Sopranos goes, easily in my top 5; as far as music on the show, can’t go wrong with “Don’t Stop Believing” in the series finale “Made in America.”)

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