Lilies of the Field/Goldsmith
June 3, 2012
Ralph Nelson (1916-1987),director of Lilies of the Field, has directed some of my favorite pictures which include Charly, Requiem for a Heavyweight, Fate is a Hunter, Soldier in the Rain, and Duel at Diablo. Liner notes from Jeff Bond explain how Nelson had to use his home as collateral to get a loan to get this film made. I’m glad he did because it is a great picture and if you’ve not seen it you’re in for a real treat. Starring Sidney Poiter in an academy award winning performance, the film was also nominated for four other Oscars including Nelson who indirectly had the last laugh over United Artists. The film made a lot of money.
The Jerry Goldsmith score is based the theme “Amen” music and
words by Jester Hairston, who also sings the inspiring lyrics for the soundtrack. It is a straight digital remastering of the Epic LP BN26094 with the only real difference (other than improved sound) being the combining of some tracks (15-12). It is limited to 3000 units but this is more the norm than the exception. The majority of the release is mono but the transfer is clean. The real star of the soundtrack is harmonica soloist Tommy Morgan who had worked with Goldsmith before on Twilight Zone episodes performing some very similar sounding work. He was more often than not given the call when harmonica was called for and he performed so many times he could no longer remember he told me when I did liner notes for an album he did with Gregg Nestor, an arranger and fine classical guitarist. The orchestra is small but effective with Goldsmith creating the right sound for religion and Arizona with some down to earth Americana sound.
A clap and harmonica open the ”Main Title” to the “Amen” theme with a twangy bass, guitar, banjo, and small string ensemble. The bass line created by Goldsmith for this track gives it a special feeling. “Homer Returns” offers chamber strings, a distant sounding Copland style trumpet, and a new theme slow to develop but the banjo offers bars opening the door for the trumpet and harmonica. This second theme which I’ll call the lilies theme continues in “The Roof” with a happy upbeat harmonica continuing. “Homer Awakes/Breakfast” offers a swaying strings prelude which lead to the “Amen” theme in a soft rendition. More clarinet and harmonica are featured. “Feed the Slaves/Drive to Mass” features a bluesy humorous track which includes the lilies theme. “Amen/Sunday Morning/Amen” features the first Jester Hairston vocal with a female chorus singing the single word amen. “Sunday Morning” is excellent well thought out underscore. “The Contractor” offers a combination of the lilies and amen themes. “Out of Bricks” begins as a sad statement followed by a train track rhythm from the harmonica. “No Hammer/Return of the Prodigal” is sad underscore which changes to a horn and banjo solo featuring “Amen.” Jerry also uses the lilies theme as a prologue to the “Amen” theme. A nice track! “Lots of Bricks/Aid Given/Aid Rejected,” the longest track at nearly seven minutes restates the “Amen” theme in yet another way with some nice rhythm from the bass and percussion and able support from the clarinet. “Amen” (second version) is the second vocal of the main theme from Jester Hairston. The final track “End Title/End Cast” reprises the main theme beginning with the lonely trumpet followed by the harmonica with some well written string work as harmony.
This is an excellent example of early Goldsmith showing how effective he can be working on a low budget with a small orchestra. At $12.98 this is a real bargain and can be ordered from Perseverance http://store.fortytwotradingco.com/liliesoffield.html as well as other dealers.
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