Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Favorite Western Composers

     We all know that music adds a lot to a movie. I put a lot of stock in a good movie score. In fact, I'm what you might call a soundtrack buff. :-D I always pay attention to who composed the score of a movie, and sometimes that's even the reason I watch a movie in the first place.

     Many westerns have beautiful soundtracks. My sister and I have often said that westerns and Civil War movies have the best music, which in many cases is true. Many of my favorite soundtracks are from westerns, and many great composers have done a lot of western scores. Here's a few of what I consider the Best of the Best. :-)

~ Bruce Broughton

     I first heard of this fella when I watched the Civil War miniseries The Blue and the Gray.  I started listening to the soundtrack on Youtube all the time while I did my math and soon became interested to find more by the composer. He also does the scores of Silverado, Tombstone, and True Women. His themes are usually very lyrical, sweeping and easily flowing.

~ James Newton Howard

     This guy has done the music of two of my very favorite movies: Wyatt Earp and Hidalgo. His music is very epic, big, and exciting. (Which, you know, is necessary for movies about cowboys and horse races!)

*sniffle* SOBBBB.

~ Basil Poledouris

     What a name, huh? ;-D I don't know much about this composer, but one thing he's done that I know VERY well is Lonesome Dove. Which may possibly be the best western score ever written. Lots of swelling strings, cowboy guitar, and those haunting trumpets at the beginning...*sigh* And you get to hear the gorgeous theme at the beginning and end of each episode, which of course is great.

     Oh yes, and Basil Poledouris also did Quigley Down Under (which I have not seen, but the music is pretty fun).

~ Carter Burwell

     Composer of the Cohen Brothers' True Grit. I love how he's incorporated the themes of several old hymns into this score, drawing heavily off the classic 'Leaning on the Everlasting Arms', and the way a lot of the music sounds like an old church piano. :-)

     Does this make you cry? It makes me cry. Here, you can use my hanky.

     Carter Burwell also did the score of The Alamo (2004), which is very different from True Grit but AMAAAAZING. There are feels in this music, folks. Just listen to this:

     Oh, for goodness' sake, just go watch the movie!

     So yes, Carter Burwell's music tends to be very feels-y.

     Another beautiful western soundtrack is from the recent movie The Homesman. I have mixed feelings about this movie; on one hand, it's amazing, heart-wrenching, awe-inspiring, mind-blowingly-epic. On the other, I don't even want to think about it! It's extremely gruesome, very graphic, and very VERY sad. Seriously, don't watch it. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. (But if you have watched it, do let me know, because I'd welcome the chance to lament over the movie with a fellow human soul!)

   But anyway. The music is gorgeous. Very old-timey, soft and lush.

     What do you think of these western soundtracks?
What are some of your own favorites?


  1. I did a post on my top favorite Western soundtracks a while back. Just going by composers, though, my absolute favorite is Elmer Bernstein (The Magnificent Seven, The Sons of Katie Elder, The Comancheros) and Jerome Moross (The Big Country, The Proud Rebel) is probably second.

    1. Elisabeth, Elmer Bernstein is great! I love The Magnificent Seven score, as well as his To Kill a Mockingbird score (which is actually one of my veeerrrry favorites).

  2. Yay! Look at all the Western film score love we've got posted this week! Hamlette, you, me... and maybe more to come! So very cool. I love quite a few of these scores. Poledouris is one of my favorite composers. I'm very fond of the Quigley Down Under score. The movie is quite good too. I really enjoyed it when I saw it.

    1. I know, it's awesome! :-) I'd like to see Quigley Down dad says he can't get used to Tom Selleck as a cowboy though, because he'll always be Magnum. ;-D

    2. I liked Quigley Down Under a lot more than I'd expected to. I even got used to Alan Rickman as a cowboy!

  3. This sounds like such a good list! The Silverado theme is awesome isn't it? I love that one.
    As far as my favorite, I think it might be John Barry's score for Dances With Wolves. It just fits the story so well, sniffle. Oh, and the Magnificent Seven theme. Never seen the movie but the music has long been a favorite for me.

    Neat post! Music is definitely a large part of a movie's impact.

    1. Mary, I ADORE the Dances with Wolves soundtrack!!!! I guess I forgot to mention that one. John Barry is a long-time favorite; my dad has a record of his James Bond music, and I also have the Somewhere in Time and Out of Africa CDs. The man was a legend.

  4. Great list! I haven't listened to all of these, but I DEFINITELY agree on James Newton Howard and Carter Burwell *happy sniffles* And I think I remember Lonesome Dove's soundtrack being pretty durned awesome, too.

    1. Yup, it's pretty durned awesome. :-) I've listened to it so much, I could probably hum the entire album from memory.


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