- Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
- Perseverance Reissue / 2012 / 31:55
Sidney Poitier became the first black man to win a Best Actor Oscar for his role as Homer Smith in Ralph Nelson’s Lilies of the Field. The incredibly high number of black men to have won that award in the fifty years since shows just how far things have moved on since those racist times (what do you mean, there have only been three?) The film was a prestigious one for Jerry Goldsmith to tackle so early in his career. It allowed the composer to showcase a much softer, warmer side to his musical personality than most of the films he had done up to that point. In fact almost all of his music is based around the song “Amen”, written for the film and performed by Jester Hairston.
The song melody appears in pretty much every track on the album – but Goldsmith does a great job of incorporating it into what could only ever be seen as a “Jerry Goldsmith score” with orchestration very familiar from other scores of the years that followed (in particular The Flim-Flam Man and even a couple of his gentler westerns). The score makes extensive use of harmonica (played by Tommy Morgan, who gives a few nice quotes about his decades working with Goldsmith in a brief interview in the liner notes) and the characteristic way the composer combines that instrument with pizzicato strings is one of the most appealingly bucolic styles that’s ever been heard in film music. His original melodic material is mostly found in counterpoint to the “Amen” melody, with few opportunities to develop it very much, but it’s a really lovely album which should appeal to any fan of this great composer’s style of warm Americana. ***