James Horner (with Celine Dion) “Titanic: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” (1997)

     There have been many film soundtrack albums that have made my list, and virtually all of them are there because they were the #1 selling album of the year.  “Titanic” is no exception, as the soundtrack for this film was a massive success, selling almost 30 million copies and being the #1 selling album of 1998.  What is remarkable about this particular release is that aside from the massive hit “My Heart Will Go On”, featuring Celine Dion, the rest of the album is truly just the instrumental score to the film.  That is how big of a hit this movie was, and listening to it today took me back to that moment in time.

     As a child growing up, my love of history and fascination with the story of the sinking of the Titanic were notable, and this was probably reinforced by the Denver ties to famous Titanic survivor Molly Brown, portrayed by Kathy Bates in the film.  By the time that this film that was written, directed and produced by James Cameron was released in 1997, I had seen several documentaries and read several books on the topic.  At first, I was cynical about the fictionalization and Hollywood glamourization of this tragedy, but I will fully acknowledge that like most, I was impressed and captivated by the mood and story, even if it was only partially accurate in its portrayal. The cinematography and magnitude of this production by Cameron and cast and crew were unprecedented, as was the success it realized across multiple mediums.  What stuck with me most, beyond the tragic love story of Jack and Rose, was the larger reality that life, even at its most grand and positive moment, is capable of turning on a single event that we may have no control over.  In a few short hours, over 1,500 people lost their lives at the end of what had likely been some of the most amazing days they had ever known.  Life is that fragile and that precious, no matter how much wealth or material items you have in the world.

     The entire album, which was composed by James Horner, centers around a few main haunting melodies that are revisited throughout the score, including the centerpiece single that is “My Heart Will Go On”.  Not all of it stands out, but once you hear those unmistakable notes, you are at once transported back to when you saw this movie, and what it meant to you.  Many of the greatest films in Hollywood history are almost as well known for their theme music, and this album certainly meets that standard. 

     “My Heart Will Go On” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and it stands with “I Will Always Love You” as the two most definitive movie songs of the decade.  Even more so than Whitney Houston, while Celine Dion has had a remarkably successful career, this song will always stand as her greatest performance.

     I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I listened to this album today, but I appreciate the flashback to a remarkable cinematic and musical performance, and I appreciate yet another reminder of the power of music to make you feel.  It is a wonderful gift, regardless of the emotions are evoked.

Published by tacopepper

A music fan...

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