Monday, February 4, 2013

Track of the Week: John Barry, "Midnight Cowboy"

If there was ever a song made for my lonely trudge today in the pre-dawn darkness down Ferry Street to Newark Penn Station on a bitter cold February Monday morning, this is it.

Soundtrack scores used to be a lot more interesting, if you ask me.  Some others from this era ("Get Carter," "Fistful of Dollars" etc.) will stick in your head like glue.  I like "Midnight Cowboy" best, since it evocatively embodies the title character of the film, a naive Texan who comes to make his way in New York, only to find disappointment and humiliation.  The harmonica part at the beginning is so slow and droning that it sounds like a melodica on a dub reggae record, but more dirge-like.  The chunky dum-dee-dum rhythm comes from countless old Western scores, but here sounds laden with doom, a parody of the freedom of the wide-open plains.  You can just picture Jon Voigt's out of place cowboy, walking down the mean streets of the big city with the loping gate of a country boy, who might as well by an alien from another planet.

I guess I like the song so much because I often feel out of place myself, a child of the rural Midwest making my way in the concrete canyons that give no solace.

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