Film Score Divas -- Past, Present and Future
By Cary Wong
Recently, three female vocalists have released new albums that should
interest film score fans who like to branch out into the pop world. Maureen
McGovern, who could be heard on such Oscar-winning songs as "The Morning
After," from The Poseidon Adventure and "We May Never Love Like
This Again" from The Towering Inferno, has re-released her 1997
tribute CD to frequent film song contributor Alan and Marilyn Bergman,
The Music Never Ends (Fynsworth Alley 302 062 176 2) with three
new tracks. Then there's Celine Dion. For most of the '90s, we couldn't
buy a soundtrack without finding her singing along with the composer's
main themes (the title song from Beauty and the Beast and "My Heart
Will Go On" from Titanic being her most high profile hits). Now
Celine has a new CD, One Heart (Sony), which is more a promotion
of her new Vegas act than any movie songs. And now, there's Mary Fahl.
The former singer for the Celtic-flavored group, The October Project, who
was featured on songs for two prestigious Spring 2003 movies, The Guys
and Gods and Generals, has released her first solo CD, The
Other Side of Time (Odyssey SK 89892).
Maureen McGovern has settled nicely from diva vocalist to cabaret cooing,
and her choice of songwriters to highlight on this CD fits her perfectly.
Lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman wrote some of the most recognizable
songs of the '70s, and have had a lasting relationship with Barbra Streisand.
They have been nominated for 16 Academy Awards, winning three. They have
collaborated with some of the best film composers including John Williams,
Michel Legrand, Marvin Hamlisch and Maurice Jarre. McGovern has always
had a strong relationship with film songs, not only singing on the Oscar
songs mentioned above, but also providing vocals for David Shire's film
compilation CD with wonderful renditions of his Oscar nominated songs from
Norma Rae and The Promise. McGovern has re-recorded the later
song, "I'll Never Say Goodbye" for her Bergman CD, and it's equally beautiful.
Along with the Bergman hits, "The Windmills of Your Mind" and "The Way
We Were," there also songs I am unfamiliar with, like the haunting and
dissonant bonus track "I Was Born in Love with You" from Wuthering Heights,
with Legrand, and the melancholy "What Matters Most" from The Champ,
with Dave Grusin. McGovern's performance is impeccable, focusing on a jazzy
and languid agenda, and less indulgent than most CDs of this genre.
I'm not going to spend too much time on Celine Dion. Her new CD is total
pop, which is not a bad thing, but should hold no interest with film score
fans. No film songs here, although I am almost positive that one or more
of the light-FM songs will show up in romantic comedies for years to come.
I sort of like her rendition of the Roy Orbison song "I Drove All Night,"
but those car commercials which used that song drove me crazy.
Mary Fahl's solo debut CD is impressive for its diversity, although
it mostly stays close to her Celtic roots. She's a brasher, more exciting
version of Enya and Sissel, whose new age sounds inspire many of today's
filmmakers and composers. Both of her film songs are here, including a
more radio-friendly version of the traditional Irish tune, "Dawning of
the Day," from The Guys. She wrote the lyrics to "Day," as she does
for most of the songs on the CD. There are collaborations with Oscar winning
composer Stephen Schwartz on the title song, and Oscar-nominated songwriter
Ramsey McLean on another. She even tackles the classical arena with Donizetti's
aria "Una Furtiva Lagrima" as well as a traditional jarcha, erotic poetry
(!) written by Moorish women around the 12th Century, called "Ben Aindi
Habibi." Mary Fahl, thankfully, is not your typical pop singer. Somewhat
unwieldy, but always interesting. More filmmakers should pay attention
to the vocal talent on display in this CD.