Musical Score By: Marc Shaiman
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In the film LBJ, Woody Harrelson is Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson who, after losing the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination to Senator John F. Kennedy (Jeffrey Donovan), agrees to become his running mate. Unfortunately, once they win the election, LBJ is sidelined in the role of vice president. But that all changes with the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963 when LBJ is elevated to President of the United States. With Lady Bird (Jennifer Jason Leigh) by his side, Lyndon B. Johnson must contend with longtime adversary Attorney General Bobby Kennedy (Michael Stahl-David) and former mentor Georgia Senator Richard Russell (Richard Jenkins), as he attempts to honor President Kennedy’s legacy by championing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The musical score of LBJ was created by American composer and lyricist Marc Shaiman who got his GED and left school at the age of sixteen to pursue his dream of working in theater. He began his career as a theatre/cabaret musical director. He also worked at Saturday Night Live as an arranger/writer and became a vocal arranger for Bette Midler. A five-time Oscar nominee and Emmy and Tony Award-winning composer, Shaiman has created musical scores and original songs for film, theater and television, including such notable projects as Hairspray, The Bucket List, A Few Good Men, Patch Adams, First Wives Club, Sister Act, The American President, City Slickers, Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, Smash and more.
The LBJ Soundtrack features a couple of main orchestral themes. The presidential theme features snare drum beats, horns and strings. Lyndon B. Johnson’s theme features dramatic strings rising in crescendo. These themes are interspersed throughout the tracks on the album. Some tracks are rather dramatic, beginning with the cacophony of sound in Assassination, the drama and despair in Rush to Hospital and the sorrow of Funeral on TV. Mixed in are moments of achievement, disappointment and self-reflection – basically an emotional rollercoaster felt by LBJ in his most tumultuous years in politics.
The score created by Marc Shaiman very effectively reflects the emotional ups and downs of LBJ during his Vice Presidency and rise to Presidency. The LBJ Soundtrack is dramatic and makes for quite an interesting listen. I could envision the various moments in LBJ’s career as I listened to each track – well done, Mr. Shaiman, well done.