Music makes the people come together

Film Tunes Are Ready for Their TV Close-Up
NEW YORK (Billboard) – The American Film Institute’s upcoming TV special focuses on movie songs.
John Travolta hosts “AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Songs: America’s Greatest Music in the Movies,” airing June 22 on CBS.
The designated tunes were culled from a list of 400 nominees distributed last year to 1,500 members of the film community. It included such obvious choices as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “As Time Goes By,” “The Way We Were,” and “Stayin’ Alive” — the last of which is from Travolta’s great star turn in “Saturday Night Fever.”
Three Academy Award winners sung by Jennifer Warnes also made the grade: “It Goes Like It Goes” from “Norma Rae”; “Up Where We Belong,” her duet with Joe Cocker from “An Officer and a Gentleman”; and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” which she sang with Bill Medley, from “Dirty Dancing.”
Warnes — along with Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager and Barbra Streisand, among others — will be interviewed about the songs, which were voted on for their effect within the context of the film, cultural impact and legacy.
Regarding the importance of music, Warnes quotes her mentor Leonard Cohen.
“He said that music is loved because it functions in your daily life,” says Warnes, who sang backup in Cohen’s band early in her career, then recorded the acclaimed 1987 album of Cohen’s songs, “Famous Blue Raincoat.”
She inserts her own philosophy on the topic: “My take is that music gets a teenager out of the house because his parents hate it. It helps a young man court, a young couple have a dinner party. It helps us get married.
“I got a letter from a couple who conceived during ‘Right Time of the Night.’ It helps us grieve. Bluegrass helps a woman clean the house faster! So music is useful to culture if it’s used — and it has to be used in daily life or let go of.”
That explains the enduring legacy of her big-movie duet hits. “They’re the music of weddings and high school reunions and anniversaries and junior high recitals,” she says. “They were used in American culture, and that’s why they made the list.”
Warnes notes that as a musician, however, she would have voted differently, “not against my own work, but according to structure, form, timelessness and the way the rendition marries the arrangement. But those considerations are purely artistic — which the average person doesn’t give a damn about.”
Singing the chorus from “The Way You Look Tonight,” she adds: “I care that that’s perfect.” But she believes that the average person has more prosaic concerns. “When you have to face a traffic jam, does the music get you to work well?”
Warnes’ forthcoming DVD audio/video release for AIX Records will include her exploration of the creative process of music making.
Meanwhile, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has its own event celebrating TV music songwriters, composers and choreographers, with the July 9 benefit “Television Night at the Hollywood Bowl II.”
The evening will benefit the Television Academy Foundation, which develops telecommunications educational outreach and archival programs, and will include tributes to legendary composer Earle Hagan (the Dick Van Dyke, Andy Griffith and “I Spy” show themes), Stu Phillips (“Battlestar Galactica”) and W.C. Snuffy Walden (“The West Wing”).
Emmy Award-winning composer Bruce Broughton (“Dallas”) will conduct his theme from “JAG,” with a medley of TV western themes being another highlight.