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Music At The Movies

A silent movie may have cleaned up at this year's Oscars, but the movies have been the inspiration for plenty of guitar anthems over the years. Lights, camera...

Wednesday, 7. March 2012  -  by  Russ Thorne

There's something strangely gratifying that this year's Oscar for best original song went to a heartfelt ditty performed in part by hand puppets. The Muppet's triumphant tune wasn't big on guitar work, sure; but it was a pleasant reminder that cinema can deliver up some fine musical moments.

Obviously there have been some catastrophes - we're looking at you, Adams and Aerosmith - and some forays into the downright weird (Jack White's Bond theme, anyone? No, didn't think so), but over the years guitar players have produced some great original work to accompany films.

Look at Dylan. His comparatively recent effort 'Things have changed' from 'Wonder Boys' nabbed a golden statue, but back in 1973 he created a little ditty called 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' for 'Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid'. The movie maybe didn't set the world alight, but the song...well, covers from Clapton, U2, GnR, the Grateful Dead (and anyone who has ever picked up a guitar) suggest it had legs.

Still on the acoustic side, the original 'Mrs Robinson' appeared in 'The Graduate' before being reworked and reworded into the hit Simon & Garfunkel single. Closer to modern times, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova deservedly won an Oscar in 2008 for 'Falling Slowly' from the movie 'Once', which boasts a soundtrack so stunning that most other films simply stare at it resentfully.

Most, but not all. Who needs delicate balladry when you can have turbo-boosted bombast? When Sly Stallone needed a montage tune for the third instalment of 'Rocky' he approached Survivor. They duly delivered the world-beating 'Eye of the Tiger', a workout song so ubiquitous that in most countries it's now illegal not to have copy on your iPod if you're embarking on an exercise regime (possibly).

Finally, it would be churlish not to end with 'The Power of Love'. Created for 'Back to the Future' the Oscar-nominated Huey Lewis and the News number, like the film itself, is pretty much impossible not to like. It works beautifully in context but is such a joy that it's gone on to have its own life beyond the film itself, which is surely the hallmark of any great soundtrack - and that's why in the end you'll be playing the Muppet song on your six string. Just wait and see.

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