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Musings On Music Part Four The Soundtrack To Quot August Rush Quot

I don't quite remember when it was during the autumn of 2007 when I had the day off, but I distinctly remember that I had intended to spend a couple of hours watching "I am Legend" that day.

I went to the theater, paid for my matinee ticket, bought some nachos and a big, tall cup of root beer, and went inside the screening room. I munched on my nachos and sipped from my soda, waiting patiently for "I am Legend" to start as the myriad previews and cinema trivia questions flashed on the screen before me.

Finally, after what seemed like a long wait, the main feature started. I was a bit confused when, of all people, a Caucasian child was the first character I heard from and saw.

Then the movie's title card was on the screen, and my mistake became all too obvious.

I had gone into the wrong screening room; "August Rush" was what was playing before me, and not "I am Legend."

Strangely enough, I chose to just stay in place and watch "August Rush." In all honesty, I wanted to see "August Rush," albeit perhaps not in the theater; I had all intentions of at least renting it on DVD. I've nurtured a crush on Keri Russell forever, and the movie looked interesting to me...

But I digress.

It's rare when a pure mistake turns out to be the right kind of serendipity in disguise. I fell in love with "August Rush" by the end of the film. I enjoyed it on so many levels, but one of its outstanding qualities was the soundtrack. As film scores go, I thought this movie's was sensational. A mixture of pieces ranging in genres as diverse as folk, Gospel/R&B, rock, and classical made for a rich, dynamic tapestry of auditory pleasure; moreover, the songs selected for this movie were simultaneously pertinent to the story AND could exist completely out of the film's context.

Keri Russell's character, Lyla Novacek, was an accomplished cellist, so I particularly enjoyed watching her play my favorite string (+ bow) instrument. She played pieces from Bach and Elgar (portions of them, anyway). There are few things in life better than the combination of eye candy and aural pleasure, and Keri Russell onscreen fit the bill perfectly.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers played Louis Connelly, an Irish twenty-something who fell in love with Lyla. Louis, like Lyla, was an accomplished musician; he was the front man for the Connelly Brothers, and he played and sang several songs in the film. My favorite tune was "This Time," an achingly beautiful song about trying to forget a love from the past. But my favorite moment in the entire film saw Louis and the title character play an improvised song in a park, called "Dueling Guitars" in the film soundtrack; each had Gibson acoustic guitars (Rhys Meyers had a vintage J-200 in his hands), and they both played with a palpable joy that comes only for a genuine love for making music.

Freddy Highmore played the eponymous character, Louis and Lyla's son. He is the hero on a quest, pushed along by an innate connection to music. August's first attempt to actually play music was marked by Kaki King's performance of "Bari Improv" (Ms. King's hands lplayed the guitar whenever August did onscreen). The character's distinctive "slap style" guitar playing marked August as a prodigy with a unique gift.

I cannot overstate how much I really enjoyed "August Rush." Though I was embarrassed when I told my girlfriend Jaime when I first told her about what had happened in the theater, the embarrassment quickly gave way to my absolute love for the story, the film, and its music. As film soundtracks go, this one touched me like few others have, and some of its songs are strong enough to stand on their own outside of the context of the movie.

Thanks for letting me share my love for this movie and its music!


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