Composed By: Joel Goodman
Distributed by: Joel Goodman
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
JFK is a biographical film airing on WGBH, a PBS station, around the date of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of one of America's most mourned leaders. The four hour film, the latest addition to the channel's Presidents Collection, explores John F. Kennedy's childhood, his life before politics, his venture into politics and his presidency. It explores the events that shaped the man and president JFK would become.
The musical score of JFK was created by American composer Joel Goodman. An Emmy Award-winning composer, Goodman has created musical scores for over one hundred films. Having composed the main theme for the PBS television series, American Experience, and the musical score of a number of the series' episodes, Goodman has also created musical scores for a number of HBO films, including Born Rich, Wartorn, Hear & Now, A Small Act and Saving Pelican #895.
In creating the score for this film, Goodman wanted to create a documentary soundtrack that had a different sort of feel to it. According to the composer, "Itís not every day one has the opportunity to be part of such an extraordinary project,Ē said Goodman. ďJFK was a complex man, and supporting his story with over two-and-a-half hours of music was a rare challenge. It forced me to be creative in the way I approached the themes and their arrangements. I wanted the music to stay fresh, but also feel consistent with the different storylines that persist throughout the film. I think I succeeded in this, and am very proud of the final score... Documentary soundtracks are a rare breed, and Iím very proud to be releasing this music. I wanted to try something different, and create an opportunity to tell one version of the story using rhythms, moods and melodies. Itís an exciting way for me to supplement and react to the great film that has been made.Ē
The musical score of JFK is mostly an orchestral affair, somewhat lighter than what I was expecting considering JFK's untimely end and the numerous dramatic events that took place during his political career. There are moments of swift musical movement with fast-paced string strokes, possibly enumerating critical or momentous moments in JFK's career. Pianos and guitars add some emotion, often played during the more private moments in his life. But there are some ominous undertones, detailing some of the rougher patches in JFK's life, like the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Vietnam, Joseph Kennedy, Jr.'s death and the standoff with Khrushchev.
The JFK Soundtrack is an enjoyable listening experience and one might be surprised at just how well each track flows into the other when they realize that the order of the musical score tracks does not reflect the order of occurrences in JFK's life. For instance, the track created for the Bay of Pigs Invasion is the fifth on the album, the sixth is The World Gets the News (presumably when they are told about Kennedy's assassination, Joe, Jr.'s death in WWII is realized in the twenty-sixth track, after the start of Vietnam that begins in the twenty-third. And yet, the tracks on this album fit together seamlessly and never seem out of place or out of order in the least. The JFK Soundtrack is definitely an album worth taking a listen to.