Jerry Fielding- HERO
Jerry Fielding was so great.
You can find his music from "The Wild Bunch" by clicking on this sentence. I have been listening to it again recently on my ipod... my god, as a really fine composer friend once said to me, "I'd have given time off my life to have a score look like one of Jerry's."
The ORIGINALITY that is in evidence in "The Wild Bunch" soundtrack shows why music for films was so breathtaking when in the hands of masters like Fielding, Johnny Mandell, Elmer Bernstein, Kenyon Hopkins, Dave Grusin and others in this time period- as these guys KNEW where the music came from and instead of just aping it- as so often happens today (most music in films feels to me like, "this is what music should sound like for this part of the picture IF indeed the scene even needs it...")- they tood the medium and CONTRIBUTED original thought/sound to the whole to make something that wasn't... just regurgitated dreck.
In scores today you hear people basically, to me, doing impressions of what they think a movie soundtrack SHOULD sound like- Fielding was INVENTING A LANGUAGE! and it is quite exciting to listen to. When you hear a score in the hands of a master like Fielding, you get context, you get economy, you get meaning and you get FEELING that isn't there if you take the music away! And when was the last score you heard that did that!?!?! (I mean, excepting of course, "Let's Go To Prison.")
in the case of "The Wild Bunch," Fielding takes the score American Western- and turns it on it's ear- like what Peckinpah did for the movie. As Peckinpah took what John Ford (and others before him) and reinvented it, Fielding managed to take what Aaron Copland had done (and even what Elmer had done with say "The Magnificent Seven"- an amazing score too)- and gave it new breath, interpretation... and, for the picture, a voice that supports and extends the story. The best way to describe it is to say that Fielding's music is... informed.
If Jerry were alive today... ah... well, unfortunately he isn't. But in this blog he lives on!
Click here for an interview with Jerry.
"It seems to me that we’re totally adrift at the moment, culturally—the Western world generally is. I don’t know what the serious musical idiom of this time is. I’ve no idea who history will designate as the proper spokesman seriously for this period. It isn’t like you could pinpoint Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, whoever. Even Stravinsky—there was a time that was right for him. Right now, the time seems to be wrong for everybody—or everybody seems to be wrong for the time."
In film and television music, I would argue that you can sub in Rota, Fielding, Mancini (btw- both Fielding and Mancini came from the same hometown- Pittsburgh- Fiedling was two years older), Herrmann or Elmer for Mozart and the others Jerry was quoted about above.
Here's my feeling on Jerry and what he meant to film music and how it resonates today:
I believe Clint Eastwood became so indebted to the music of Fielding, that in this day and age- when we sooooo need a Fielding- Clint has decided that since no other composer who is working steadily could do what Jerry did... Clint just does the music himself.
And I gotta say, having just watched "Million Dollar Baby"- if that's his thinking (which I think it is), that's the way to go.
Fielding could have added so much to that movie...
Go find ANYTHING written or arranged by Jerry Fielding and you won't be sorry.