Julie Andrews And How Movie Music Shapes Our Lives

For some inexplicable reason, today, I decided to find the name of, or the movie it came from, of a song that has haunted me for several years. I knew some of the words, most of the melody, and that it had been sung by Julie Andrews in one of her movies. Thank God for IMdb and YouTube, because after much detective work, eureka, I found a video of Andrews singing “Whistling Away the Dark”, from the movie Darling Lili, and my quest, has been quenched!

The experience has made me aware just how much “my” personal taste in music, for my entire life so far has been influenced by the music of movies. Back in the early 50’s, I saved up, and bought a tape recorder, a reel to reel back then. I remember taping music from the movies on TV. I recall the theme from Captain from Castile`, or the theme from And Then There Were None. I would tape music from any film that had a song I liked, in it. I would read the TV Guide for a potential movie time I was waiting for, so I could tape a particular song. I did this all during the 50’s to early 60’s, so I could have a tape with just the songs I wanted, as opposed to the entire soundtrack. I remember taping the songs from the TV series Peter Gunn, the first actual, entire soundtrack I bought, the second being Mr. Lucky, also from the TV series, I am still a huge fan of Henry Mancini. This was 10 years before he, and Johnny Mercer, wrote the haunting “Whistling Away the Dark”. Now I realize I just segued from movie music to TV music, but, no one can deny Mr. Mancini’s profound influence in movie music!

I look through my CDs today, and realize just how many of them are either, actual soundtracks, or CDs with songs I heard in a movie. When I was growing up the music in my house was quite eclectic, and with only one communal record player there was a definite pecking order for its use. Being the youngest of five children, I heard a lot of different types of music, from my older siblings (Patti Page, Jo Stafford, Tony Bennett) to my parents (Louis Armstrong, Victory at Sea, Dennis Day — my Mom’s personal favorite, and classical music). Back then I could only use the record player, a small unit on top of the TV that was connected to the TV speakers, when my folks weren’t home or if my older siblings weren’t using it — and then they would yell at me that my music would ruin the needle. (No offense to Fats, Elvis, or Little Richard). Well eventually I got my own record player, a 35 watt amplifier beauty, that was all mine and in my own room, however, I did get earphones so as not to annoy anyone.

Over the years I amassed many, tapes, LPs, 45s, then 8-tracks (those I kept in carton boxes in my cars back seat,) then cassettes (many of which I kept because they never came out on compact disc) and now, many, many, CDs. The only thing that has remained the same over the years is my love of movie music.

I am now basically a lover of instrumentals. Like my movie watching, my music listening is very seasonal, I actually consider certain music summer music, as opposed to fall, or winter music, Christmas music aside! One of my few vocal likes, Ray Charles for instance, is definitely Summer music to me, as is Carly Simon. Tony Bennett spans the year, as does Jane Oliver. However, since the bulk of my music is instrumental, they are more finite, maybe so specific as to be listened to only within a certain week or two, like the soundtracks from Summer of 42, and Picnic.

As we are into fall I am now into my autumunal music, the soundtrack from The Perfect Storm is just right for looking at the turbulent Cape Cod waters, and soon my very scary music CD, with the Exorcist, Halloween and Jaws themes will be in my rotation. I even have a self-made Halloween tape, which has many supposedly scary themes on it, which I happen to think are beautiful, like Mancini’s Experiment in Terror, which is an excellent film and score.

The above mentioned quest for the name of Julie’s song was one of many music quests in my life, so far, but the first was from over 65 years ago. When I was about seven or eight old, I heard a violin song from a movie shown on TV, I couldn’t recall the name of the movie, or who was in it. I hummed the song for years, wondering about it, even occasionally hearing it on the classical station, but alas, they gave the names of the songs before they were played, not after. I even went so far as to go to a record store, I frequented in Boston years ago, and humming it for the clerk, he was older so I thought he might know it, but, to no avail. Well, about 11 yrs. ago, with the advent of IMDB, and, more importantly, my newfound fluency with the computer, I eventually found out the name of the piece, the composer, and the movie, I think it was from. I now am the proud owner of Isaac Stern’s, Humoresque: Favorite Violin Encores, which includes, Anton Rubinstein’s “Romance in E Flat Major, Op 44 No 1” — that haunting melody from so many years ago, and it still gives me goosebumps! Movie music does not define my music taste, but, it certainly has broadened it, and introduced me to many new genre’s and new sounds. For example, I love the dueling music of the synthesizers from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

If it were not for that movie from so long ago, I might never have heard that melody, might never have known the feeling it gives me, every time I hear it.