OK, memory lane time . . .
I remember it was summer. I must of been around eight years old. We would be at a bungalow colony in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. I was reading the latest Spider-Man comic. My father had recently bought a “fancy” transistor radio (AM, FM and Short Wave!!) and it was playing in the background. Then this song came on that was different from the Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett that was usually played. There was no singer but there was this cool whistling and harmonica. I immediately has a picture in my head of Spider-Man swinging thru the buildings of NYC. I learned much later that the tune I heard was the theme from the movie ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly‘ and it was composed by the Italian film composer, Ennio Morricone who passed away earlier this month.
The film genre known as Spaghetti Westerns was pretty much created by Sergio Leone’s mid sixties trilogy of film classics: ‘A Fistful of Dollars’, ‘For a Few Dollars More,’ ‘The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly’). As Leone defined the film genre with those three films, Ennio Morricone pretty much created the template for it’s accompanying music.
Before Leone, Hollywood Westerns à la John Ford featured orchestral arrangements of Western standards. Leone’s budget did not allow for such things. Morricone used gunshots, cracking whips, whistle, voices, jew’s harp, trumpets, and the new Fender electric guitar giving the soundtrack a cool and gritty feel.
Below are two of my favorite Morricone tunes, the aforementioned theme for ‘The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly’ and the other is from a favorite film ‘Two Mules For Sister Sara’ (with Shirley McClain and Clint Eastwood from 1970, definitely a fun watch worth checking out).
The Good the Bad and the Ugly • Main Theme • Ennio Morricone
2 Mules For Sister Sara – Theme by Ennio Morricone –
The video below (courtesy of Reverb) is for the music nerds/guitar geeks (my peeps). It offers a cool insightful analysis of the Spaghetti Western musical style with examples from both ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ and ‘For a Few Dollars More’.
Why is Spaghetti Western Music So Cool?