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MEMORIES OF ME
Lovely, brief album dominated by sheer brilliance of its finale
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2009 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2009 James Southall.
A long-forgotten film, Memories of Me - about a son reconciling with his estranged father - is only really remembered for two things. Cinephiles might know that it was the first film directed by Henry Winkler. And then, there will be film music fans. Anybody who has the sublime collection "The London Sessions", or Varese's later edited repackaging "Great Composers", will know it. Will be able to recall the theme. Will be able to recall getting teary-eyed the first time - and the second time, and the third, and each subsequent time - they heard it.
That's because it was composed by Georges Delerue and features one of his most breathtakingly beautiful themes. Delerue - a film music one-off - always gives the impression of being a man who could get up in the morning and rattle off a ravishing, heartbreaking, sumptuous theme before the kettle had finished boiling to make his first cup of coffee. Through the first half of his career scoring indelible masterpieces for Truffaut, Malle and de Broca while in France, and the second half of his career scoring delible (well, "indelible" must have an opposite?) less-than-masterpieces for slightly less noteworthy filmmakers, he did it; time and again, he did it.
Film music over the years has attracted a large number of great melodists, but in terms of capturing the joie de vivre - Delerue was simply unmatchable. Apart from the two-track suite on the aforementioned compilations, Memories of Me had never before been available; but a less-than-generous 1,000 copies were pressed by Intrada for the Ebay hoarders - and perhaps one or two fans of Georges Delerue - to finally get their hands on. Given the relative obscurity of the film, this will be for many people the first opportunity to know how this score functions beyond the two pieces they already know so well.
It's pretty surprising, actually - the heartstrings don't get tugged for quite a while, with much of the score consisting of jazz pieces. Delerue's familiar jazz style is nice, though is very lightweight here. The first dramatic highlight comes in "Reminiscing / X-Ray / Abe's Aneurism", which doesn't sound like the most cheerful of sequences; this is where Delerue really pulls out his emotional hammer-blows for the first time. And then he doubles, trebles, quadruples it all in the final two cues - which are mindblowing. But you probably already know that about them. The album is very good (and a special note for Richard Kraft's moving memoir of the composer, including the incisive comment "Anyone who has listened to his music knows exactly who he was, how he felt, how he laughed and how he loved") - but it has to be said that so strong a highlight is that two-track finale that talking about the rest of the album is not a great use of time - it's obvious what people are going to take away from it. And if you're a Delerue fan, you already know all about those two tracks at the end; and if you don't, acquaint yourself with those compilations and prepare for your heart to melt.