First up, since I've been thinking of little else lately: music. Western are a huge part of my life, and the scores that go with those movies almost an even bigger one. Most of these, I suspect most people won't have heard of, but they're a huge part of my life.
These are my most-listened-to Western film scores at this moment in time. I have so many other Western scores I love just as much, including several all-time favorites, but they're out of play rotation right now, for various reasons. They'll come around again. But right now, here in the middle of 2015, these are the ones I'm playing most often.
1. Rio Conchos - Jerry Goldsmith (1964)
I think if I only had one score to listen to the rest of my life, I would not be upset if this were the one. It is my most played score over the past twenty-five years, by any composer in any genre, and for all the hundreds of times I've played it, I am still not remotely tired of it. It's a score that matches my mood most days. You want the essence of me in musical form? This score just about covers it.
Favorite cue: "River Crossing"
(Main Title from Rio Conchos)
2. Hour of the Gun - Jerry Goldsmith (1967)
I might also be fine if this was the only score I had to listen to for the rest of my life. This one's not as dark as Rio Conchos. It starts upbeat and ends upbeat, but covers lots of moods and action in the middle.
Favorite cue: "The Search"
(Sort of a compilation cue from the score)
3. Wyatt Earp - James Newton Howard (1994)
No, the list isn't going to be all Goldsmith (though it easily could be, LOL). I listen to Wyatt Earp all the time. There's a short album and an expanded album, and I trade off between them depending how much time I have.
Favorite cue: "It All Ends Now"
(My favorite cue from Wyatt Earp)
4. Big Jake - Elmer Bernstein (1971)
My favorite Western movie, and my favorite Bernstein score. Great classic Western theme for Jacob McCandles, exactly what you expect from a John Wayne Western.
Favorite cue: "Survey/Ambush/Buzzards"
5. Lonely are the Brave - Jerry Goldsmith (1962)
I'll be talking more about this movie later this week. But this score? Perfection. In every way. It's poignant, gentle, playful, actiony, and sad.
Favorite cue: "Run for It"
6. The Missing - James Horner (2003)
Never seen this movie, never want to. It would ruin the music. I love this score so much it's not funny. It's not the Bernstein-esque "traditional" Western sound, but it's one of my top ten favorite Horner scores. This is a score I write to. It's sweeping, beautiful, and aching. It's one of those Horner scores that makes me want to climb inside the music, because it's not enough to just listen to it.
Favorite cue: "The Long Ride Home," all 16 glorious minutes of it.
7. Take a Hard Ride - Jerry Goldsmith (1975)
Boy, does this one have a great main theme. This is one of the CDs that stays in my car and I listen to it often while driving. Not a dark score, but not a light score either. Nicely in the middle.
8. Breakheart Pass - Jerry Goldsmith (1975)
Because train music never gets old.
Favorite cue: Here it Comes
9. Tombstone - Bruce Broughton (1993)
I sometimes find it ironic that I love this score, but don't like the movie at all (except for Michael Biehn). I also find it ironic that one of the things I did not like about the movie when I saw it in the theater was that the music, in context, didn't work for me. But I love it by itself. (Rather like the score to Waterworld by James Newton Howard... didn't work for me in the movie, either, but it got listened to over and over and over on CD. What can I say? Some scores are just like that.)
Favorite cue: "Looking at Heaven/End Credits"
10. The Scalphunters - Elmer Bernstein (1968)
Probably the lightest, most cheerful of the ten scores listed here, but still has that distinctive Bernstein sound.
Favorite cue: "Joe Bass and the Scalphunters"