Friday, July 26, 2013

In Ancient Times


Today's formative-album replay: Vangelis, Chariots of Fire. I don't think I'd want to meet my 13-year-old self: He was an insufferable Anglophile who didn't realize The Preppy Handbook was satire, who had renounced pop for classical music (the fever broke soon enough), and who nonetheless fancied himself some kind of leftist (in Reagan-era Arizona, no less). How did l survive middle school without severe and regular beatings?

In addition to the usual PBS fare, the twin watersheds that rocked my world in 1981 were the interminable miniseries of Brideshead Revisited and this earnest track-and-field fable, the only sports movie I've ever embraced (corollary question to the above: How did I turn out straight?). My inordinate love for this deeply silly bit of British folderol must explain why I overcame my distaste for both non-classical music and synthesizers and happily put its execrable soundtrack into heavy rotation.

It is really hard now to recapture that youthful affection, even ironically; this feast of analog electronica, bristling with sounds that are alternately skin-crawling and eyelid-weighing, isn't even good bad music. A few of the midrange-bell-chime sounds don't bother me as much as, say, the crinkly-silver starburst chime sounds, and there's still something affectingly brooding about the warmish, wounded-sounding electric-piano meditation "Abraham's Theme" (remember the film's awkward anti-Semitism angle?). But all those fake seagull bleats, ersatz horns, plastic-ice-cube piano, and shuddering timpani, not to mention the whackadoodle UFO landing that leads into an otherworldly rendition of the hymn "Jerusalem"--I can only hear this record now as a youthful indiscretion. Geoffrey Burgon's psuedo-stately soundtrack for Brideshead is admittedly no masterpiece, but it sounds all the better in contrast with this glittering turd.

Comments:
Joe Drymala your 13-year-old self and my 13-year-old self would have totally nerded out together.
Catherine Trieschmann Miller I will unabashedly love CofF forever, soundtrack & all. I was surprised, however, to realize that I saw this movie in the theater & fell in love with it when I was 7. Could I really have been that young?
Rob Weinert-Kendt I should revisit the movie, too, I guess...but the soundtrack, feh. (And thanks for making me feel old.)
Jimb Fisher Believe it or not, I listened to Vangelis quite a bit when I was in high school. Always thought CoF was his lamest effort despite the iconic main theme. As far as soundtracks go, his music for Blade Runner and The Bounty were far superior and their old-timey synth sounds have aged much better.
Mark Watkins I spent a month this year tracking down and listening to all versions of Blade Runner soundtrack pieces <-- 30="" brilliant.="" chariots="" could="" of="" only="" seconds="" span="" take="" tho.="" totally="">
Carrie Yoshimura Farnham This was a fun trip down memory lane. I'm sure I would be horrified by my 80s self if I met her today. I do remember that the run on the beach to this anachronistic music seemed really cool at the time, but Chariots could not hold a candle to Brideshead. I had s stuffed dog named in part after Sebastian Flyte.
Keythe Farley Two words: Chuck Mangione http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zq3qq-4Z1Y
Joe McDade Okay. Find the two common elements in these three movies: "Chariots of Fire," "Stealing Home," "The Trial of Billy Jack." One is a concentration on a specific sport ranging from text ("Chariots") to, ancillary subject ("Trial," with the kung fu). The other? All three movies have that "Huh? What?" element: the flashback-within-a-flashback.
Joe McDade You and I traveled in separate directions with "Brideshead," pal; I became hopelessly addicted in my twenties and watch it end-to-end once a year. Maybe for a world I'll never know. Non et in Arcadia Ego, unfortunately.

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