Emotional manipulation. When music is at its very best it is making me, forcing me, to feel something I was not feeling before I started listening. It is going from my ears to my heart. Bypassing, it seems, my brain and conscious thought. The greatest composers, and songwriters and musicians manipulate my emotions and take control of my heart.
Many metal bands are able to go straight to the heart too. Perhaps because many make music from their heart before thinking about commercial success. It seems more important to express ourselves through our music, then we hope people will like it, rather than try to make music people like. In lockdown I’ve had time to spend with my modest, and old, hi-fi equipment. I’ve gone back to classic metal albums and I’ve also gone back to my favourite movie soundtracks and themes. Rocky, the movie from Sylvester Stallone, has so many uplifting moments in the soundtrack. It’s great to put on in the morning to boost the effect of my coffee and get me motivated.
The Magnificent Seven from 1960 by Elmer Bernstein has a very cool soundtrack. Easy to listen all the way through and I’m able to forget myself because it’s so involving. A great way to lose myself when the darkness seems to be hunting me down. I like big majestic themes and dark scary moments too. The main theme of Game of Thrones is overwhelming me every time I hear it. I could never skip the titles when I watched the series on the dead travel hours on my last three tours. I needed, and wanted, to be caught up and swept away for those few seconds and, not just believe, but actually know, without doubt, that somewhere dragons exist and there is a super-hot woman that commands them. The music in that series is so good.
Metallica have used part of the famous spaghetti western movie soundtrack, by Ennio Morricone, as the opening theme music at some concerts. A few years ago my band played the theme song from the British movie 633 Squadron to start my live performance. It felt great. In my classical acoustic concerts Thomas Zwijsen did a special arrangement of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Ennio Morricone, as an intro for my part of the show. The reaction from fans was incredible. Ennio Morricone composed many beautiful themes for movies. Quentin Tarrentino famously reused A Fistful of Dollars, and seemed to me, to start a renaissance and a new awareness, and introduced a lot of people to the music of this incredible composer who described music as “energy, space and time.” He did over 400 scores for cinema and television and over 100 classical works, got 2 Oscars, and he met the guys from Metallica.
Now there is a sadness. On the 6th of July 2020, aged 91, in hospital in Rome, Ennio Morricone died. He had fallen and fractured his femur a few days before. A giant in the world of real music. A hero and an inspiration to a lowly songwriter like me. He was prolific and he was a master of emotional manipulation with his music. I choose to believe that his heart was as metal as yours and mine. He now becomes truly immortal. We will feel him, in our hearts, whenever we choose to listen to his work.
Rest in peace maestro. You will live forever.