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THE FISHER KING

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Composer:  George Fenton

Running time:  50 minutes, 32 seconds

Released:  September 17, 1991

Status:  Currently Out of Print

Buy At:  Used Music Shops or Ebay

 

click for larger image of soundtrack cover

 

 

TRACKLISTING:

 

0.11 1   Intro: The Jack Lucas Radio Show Jeff Bridges
2.45 2   Chill Out Jack Trip
0.31 3   Pet Peeves Jeff Bridges
2.24 4   I'm Sorry Brenda Lee
1.24 5   Sunrise Confession Jeff Bridges
5.53 6   Power/Sign Off Jeff Bridges
4.53 7   I Wish I Knew John Coltrane
4.18 8   How About You? [Swing Version] Harry Nilsson
2.15 9   Grand Central Waltz George Fenton
2.49 10   Story of the Fisher King George Fenton
4.19 11   Jack Meets Perry George Fenton
1.21 12  

Everything's Coming up Videos 

["Some People"/Rose's Turn"]

Michael Jeter
4.52 13  

Evening Out 

[Includes Lydia the Tattooed Lady]

Robin Williams
3.02 14   Quest for the Grail George Fenton
6.48 15   Red Knight Suite George Fenton
2.47 16   How About You? [Swing Version] Freed/Lane

click for larger image of back cover

click for larger image of cd

click for larger image of inlay

 

SONG BY SONG ANALYSIS:

 

"Intro: The Jack Lucas Radio Show"

Peformed by Jeff Bridges

Dialogue Written by Richard LaGravenese

-Things literally start off with a bang with this 10-second intro to The Jack Lucas Show.

 

"Chill Out Jack"

Written by Cave Samrai, Richard Williams, Peter Harvey & Jonny Templeton

Performed by Trip

-Reportedly, Gilliam wanted to use the Rolling Stones' cover of "Miss You" for the film, but the band Trip wrote "Chill Out Jack" when Jagger and co. refused to allow their song to be used.   Ironically, this song probably fits much more appropriately with the themes of the film and Jack's character. 

 

"Pet Peeves"

Performed by Jeff Bridges and Caroline Cromelin

Dialogue Written by Richard LaGravenese

-Another brief segment from the film, this time featuring a caller to Jack's show, voiced very fittingly by Caroline Cremelin.

 

"I'm Sorry"

Written by Ronnie Self & Dub Allbritten

Performed by Brenda Lee

Produced by Owen Bradley

-The classic song that's been redone countless times, but has never matched Brenda Lee's original vocal take, which is what is featured here.  

 

"Sunrise Confession"

Performed by Jeff Bridges and Christian Clemenson

Dialogue Written by Richard LaGravenese

-Another caller, this time with Jack's callousness ending in inevitable tragedy.  Christian Clemenson, in addition to providing the voice, also plays Edwin in the film.

 

"The Power"

Written by Benito Benitez, John Garrett III, Toni C., Robert Frazier & Mark James

Performed by Chill Rob G

Remixed by Kevin Lane

Remix Engineer: Simon Smart

Keyboards Programmed and Played by Adrian Thomas

Courtesy of Wild Pitch Records, Ltd.

-Funky, techno, trippy, and borderline rap, this song works surprisingly well despite the clashing styles.  It encapsulates Jack Lucas' character at the start of the film, but nevertheless stands in stark contrast to the rest of the soundtrack.

 

"Sign Off"

Performed by Jeff Bridges

Dialogue Written by Richard LaGravenese

-Jack Lucas gives his send-off, unaware that he is signing off for possibly the last time.  This is spoken dialogue.

 

"I Wish I Knew"

Writen by Harry Warren & Mack Gordon

Performed by John Coltrane

-The first instrumental song is not an original score, but taken from John Coltrane's performance of Gordon/Warren's timeless composition, which has been featured on innumerable compilations.  The slow, deliberate, humdrum, jazzy feel couldn't be any more different from the tone and style of the previous two tracks.

 

"How About You"

Written by Burton Lane & Ralph Freed

Sung and Whistled by Harry Nilsson

Produced by Ray Cooper and George Fenton

-Our first taste of Lane & Freed's intoxicating ditty, as performed by Harry Nilsson.  It's hard not to sing along.  This song runs over the credits of the film.

 

"The Grand Central Waltz"

Composed, Conducted and Produced by George Fenton

-A very elegant piece to go with the magical scene at Grand Central.  A wonderful waltz, with some stirring strings.  My only complaint is that it's too short!

 

"The Story of the Fisher King"

Composed, Conducted and Produced by George Fenton

-Several odd-sounding arrangements seemed to have been bundled together here.  Many motifs are covered, of which very few are revisited later on in the soundtrack.  Things start with an evocative atmosphere of strings and synthesizer (at least, I can't imagine a string or horn instrument creating some of the sounds I hear).  Horns soon come to dominate the moody ambience, and even a bit of appropriately simple guitar plucking.

 

"Jack Meets Perry"

Composed, Conducted and Produced by George Fenton

-The pace picks up here, beginning with sounds reminiscent of the Michael Jackson song "Thriller".  Things get more interesting after the first minute, with some disturbing yet at the same time almost playful piano, accompanied by strings and horns.  Just before the three minute mark the music seems to represent footsteps, perhaps indicating the movement of the Red Knight.  We hear a harp and some drums and then a large cymbal crash.  Afterward, we are led off with a very purposeful piano and then some whistling strings.

 

"Everything's Coming Up Videos" ("Some People"/"Rose's Turn")

Written by Stephen & Julie Styne

Performed by Michael Jeter

Piano:  Simon Chamberlain

-Michael Jeter's big scene as a pseudo-Ethel Merman.  The lyrics aren't as poetic as one might like, and doesn't scan as well as it could.  But then, we must assume that the characters of Jack and Anne, along with the "Homeless Cabaret Singer", were responsible for its composition, and int his way its shortcomings can be rationalized.

 

"An Evening Out" (Includes "Lydia the Tattooed Lady")

Composed, Conducted & Produced by George Fenton

"Lydia the Tattooed Lady" Written by E.Y. Harburg & Harold Arlen

Arranged by George Fenton

Vocals by Robin Williams

-Starts with horns, light percussion and piano, this has a very introspective feel, like you are wandering down the city streets, lost in thought.  It quickly puts you in a very pensive mood.  It ends with Robin Williams' touching rendition of "Lydia the Tattooed Lady", fading into the motif with which the track begins:  soothing piano and strings.  A wood instrument, similar to the flute, ends things very slowly, almost lulling the listener into a peaceful state of being.  

 

"Quest for the Grail"

Composed, Conducted and Produced by George Fenton

-A heavy string arrangement sets things off here, borrowing a recurring theme from "Jack Meets Parry".  Danger lurks around the 1:42 mark, with weighty strings full of bass that will arise again in "The Red Knight Suite".  The last thirty seconds builds to a summit that lingers but is never resolved.

 

"The Red Knight Suite"

Composed, Conducted and Produced by George Fenton

-At nearly seven minutes, this suite covers a lot of ground, most of it very melancholy.  There's some very odd percussion and haunting choral voices, and also some very violent segments.  The pinnacle (not only of the song, but perhaps the entire soundtrack) arrives at 4:38, as everything goes quiet, and a build-up starts with some simple strings.  Drums are added to the mix, giving a slow beat.  This sequence represents Parry, at the brink of finding happiness again, descending back into madness, and signalling the return of his psychosis, the return of his never forgotten horror, the return of the red knight..  Sadly, almost as soon as it begins, things shift to another, more pensive and wistful arrangement.

 

"How About You" (Swing Version)

Written by Burton Lane & Ralph Freed

Arranged by Tommy Dorsey

Transcribed by Pete Smith

Re-recorded by George Fenton (1991)

-This instrumental version is still able to induce some irresistible toe-tapping.  George Fenton re-recorded the song, effectively using horns to replace Nilsson's vocals.  Things eventually rise into a crescendo of big brass.

 

 

Overall, we have a solid collection of (mostly) well-known songs and twenty-five odd minutes of original score.  This soundtrack was nominated for an Oscar, though one must wonder if it was deserving of such an accolade.  There certainly are inspired moments, such as "The Grand Central Waltz" and segments of the lengthy "Red Knight Suite".  However, the various bits and pieces don't always quite fit together, especially when so many different musical genres and performers are featured.  Yet it does accomplish the feat of working well as a soundtrack for the film, so perhaps that was what the Academy hoped to recognize with their nomination.

 

 

 

COMPLETE CREDITS (listed alphabetically):

 

Jeff Atmajian  - Orchestration
Owen Bradley  - Producer
Jeff Bridges  - Special Effects, Performer
Simon Chamberlain  - Piano
John Clifford  - Photography
John Coltrane  - Performer
Ray Cooper  - Producer, Music Consultant
Caroline Cromelin  - Performer
Tommy Dorsey  - Arranger
George Fenton  - Arranger, Composer, Conductor, Producer, Performer, Orchestration
Chill Rob G.  - Performer
Keith Grant  - Engineer
Sharre Jacoby - Album Coordinator

Michael Jeter  - Performer
Kevin Lane  - Remixing
Brenda Lee - Vocals, Performer
Stephen Marcussen - Mastering
Kathy Nelson  - Executive Producer

Harry Nilsson  - Vocals, Whistle (Human), Performer

Gerry O'Riordan - Engineer
Amrick Rai  - Producer
Stacey Sher - Music Supervisor for Fisher King Productions, Inc.
Simon Smart  - Engineer, Remixing
Pete Smith - Transcription

Bob Thiele - Producer
Adrian Thomas  - Synthesizer, Keyboards, Keyboard Programming
Trip - Producer, Performer
Steve Vaughan  - Photography
Ilene Weingard  - Art Direction
Robin Williams - Performer

 

 

  George Fenton:  "The film is amazing:  nothing could have prepared me for this and afterwards I mutter feeble generalizations, feeling so far behind the Gilliam roller coaster.  Terry knows about the music like he knows about the camera and the design and the cut and everything else and the new normality of The Fisher King enters my life."
 

 

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