Sunday, February 1, 2009

Still Waiting

(written for the Film Score Monthly blog)

I spend most of the day building furniture and cabinets and otherwise creating a lot of sawdust. Our shop sits in an old building in a fashionable section of Main Street.

A few years back, my boss built himself a guitar (an absolutely gorgeous archtop) and started learning to play it. One day I decided to dig my saxophone out of the attic, where it had resided more or less untouched for 20 years, and play along. We gathered up some old standards and started sitting out in front of the building playing music during coffee breaks.

Since we’re on Main Street, we often get a fair amount of foot traffic. Sometimes, one of those passersby will drop a dollar into the open guitar case. And sometimes, just sometimes, a couple will be walking by and they’ll pause while we’re playing something like “Misty” and they’ll listen for a few moments and then they’ll look at each other and they’ll begin to dance, gently swaying back and forth on the sidewalk.

And so often, especially when I’m warming up, I’ll start playing Jerry Goldsmith tunes and see if anyone pricks up an ear in recognition.

Nothing too easy or blatant, like the big Star Trek march, but “Ilia’s Theme” definitely. Or the gorgeous motif that opens “The Old City” track from Masada. I’ll do the doDEEdoDEEdo doDEEdo horn fanfare from The Wind and the Lion. I’ll attempt the theme from Hawkins. I’ve played that wonderful melody from Medicine Man that soars in a string arrangement during “The Trees.” I’ve done my own interpretation of the theme from Bandolero and completely failed to do justice to The Great Train Robbery.

And all the time I watch, looking for a turned head or a knowing grin, waiting for that one person to cast me a quizzical glance and say, “Is that Jerry Goldsmith you’re playing?”

I’ve been playing this game on and off for nearly four years.

I’m still waiting.

But I’m not giving up. You never know who’s going to walk by. Maybe someone will stop one morning and say, “That’s a lovely song. What is it?” and I’ll be able to encourage them to look for a particular cd that will provide them with the tune in all its original glory.

Or, more likely, I’ll just continue tooting to deaf ears. I mean not even my guitar-playing boss, sitting beside me as I noodle through Goldsmith tunes, has ever commented on them. I’m a lone voice crying into the wilderness. But that’s okay. It’s still fun to see if I can play an identifiable version of the theme from Room 222 on alto sax. I can amuse myself for minutes at a time doing this, and that’s what matters in the end.

Maybe next time I’ll try some John Barry. “Bond Meets the Girls” from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, anyone?

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