, Newburyport, MA


June 27, 2013

Play it again, Hamm


Sometimes a film’s main character is a musician, or the soundtrack highlights a composer. We served “Chicken With Plums,” about a violinist, with Bach violin concerti. “Dangerous Method” about Freud and Jung shined with Rachmaninoff piano psychoti.

We tag directors and actors. The soundtrack for “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?” keeps us on the sunny side during more recent, darker Coen Bros. films. Last year Jeff Bridges released a CD that adds a white Russian flavor to any film he’s in.

Adaptations of Shakespeare are measured with my fellow minstrels from King Richard’s Renaissance Faire who tempest for tips, though I labor to be or not to be Baroque.

Ethnicity and geography are well mapped. “The Descendants,” set in Hawaii, picked Jake Shimabukuro’s ukulele. “I’m So Excited!,” the new film by Spain’s Pedro Almodovar, will strum John Tavano’s guitar Aug. 16 through 29.

And titles: For “The Big Year” we played “The Secret Language of Birds.” I don’t speak bird myself, but I do know that, as Steve Martin’s character insists through clenched teeth: “It’s called birding, not bird watching.”

Yes, I favor flutes: What flautist would not relish having people hear Jean Pierre Rampal, Jethro Tull, Frans Bruggen, Herbie Mann, James Galway, Matt Malloy, Charles Beaulieu, Sarah Bauhan, Roger Ebacher, then do a double take and ask: “Is that you?”

In response, I immediately, invariably change the subject.

We pay tribute: Rampal joined the French resistance, so his jazz albums with pianist Claude Bolling accompany films set in WWII Europe.

When drummer Levon Helm died last year, we played The Band’s boxed set. For “Beasts of the Southern Wild” we timed “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” to be the last song heard.

And an occasional pun, such as The Beatles’ “Help!” with “Sister,” a French film set in an Alpine ski resort.

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