“Stay gold, PONY BOY. Stay Gold!”
“The Outsiders: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition”
Music By Carmine Coppola
Featuring “Stay Gold” Performed By Stevie Wonder
Music Box Records MBR024
17 Tracks/Disc Time: 55:02
IN early 1983 the legendary Director Francis Ford Coppola, who had come off the great and legendary successes of “The Godfather”, “The Godfather Part 2”, “The Conversation” and the near death, but ultimately reviered “Apocalypse Now”, was in a bit of a down turn with his misfire “One From The Heart”. His success had ultimately returned when he was given a copy of S.E. Hinton’s popular novel, “The Outsiders” to be made as a movie by a group of California high school students. Coppola’s partner, Fred Roos agreed that he should direct a movie as he was very taken with the material. Soon after assembling what would be a cast full of future stars that included Patrick Swayze (“Ghost”, “Dirty Dancing”), Rob Lowe (“St. Elmo’s Fire, “The West Wing”), Tom Cruise (“Risky Business”, “Mission: Impossible”), C.Thomas Howell (“E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial”, “The Hitcher”), Ralph Macchio (“The Karate Kid Trilogy”, “My Cousin Vinny”), Emilio Estevez (“Young Guns”, “The Mighty Ducks”), Matt Dillon (“My Bodyguard”, “Wild Things”) and Diane Lane (“Unfaithful”). The film shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma where the story takes place revolves a group of poor lower class kids called “Greasers” and told through the eyes of the film’s protagonist “Pony-Boy” Curtis (Howell). When one night, Pony-Boy and his best friend Johnny (Macchio) are running away from their problems at home they get into a fight with an upper class kid known as a “Socs” and accidently kill him in self defense, with the help of their older best friend, Dallas (Dillon) they are forced to hide out until things cool down. When they decide to come back home, Ponyboy and Johnny help the children trapped in the church and become heroes after they rescue them. Johnny is badly wounded and confined to the hospital and soon the tension begins to mount between the two rival groups, setting off a turbulent chain of events that will lead to tragic consequences for both groups.
The film was a major hit when it was released despite the fact that it was cut by over twenty minutes which were really vital to the film’s narrative and Coppola himself restored the film back to its’ original 113 minute length entitled “The Complete Novel” which really made the film even more dramatic and gave alot of the characters more development that made the book so popular as well. The task of composing the dramatic score for this film was by Francis Ford Coppola’s father, Carmine, who had added some vital music to the first “Godfather” film and then worked closely with the late Nino Rota on his score for “The Godfather Part 2” and his contribution was very vital to that film. It wasn’t until 1979 that Carmine really broke out with the hit children’s film, “The Black Stallion”, writing an exceptional score that was reworked and reedited by the late Shirley Walker and a few orchestrators and even in this form, was still masterful. “Apocalypse Now” would definitely be the film that would propell him with his unique electronic score aided by Walker as one of the orchestrators into prominance. He would compose the re-score to the 1981 restoration of “Napoleon” and would add dramatic scores to “Gardens of Stone”, and “The Godfather Part 3”, which would be his final score due to his untimely passing soon after the film was released.
The score to “The Outsiders” is a dramatic and melodic score that pretty much is a take on Max Steiner’s music for “Gone With The Wind” in the dramatic sense as the film was shot this way by Director of Photography Stephen H. Burum. Coppola’s wonderful, melodic nature is felt throughout the pastorial innocence of “Country Theme”, a beautiful cue with emphasis on lush strings, harp and woodwinds which would be one of the important signature themes. This theme takes a bit of a different spin with “Deserted Church Suite”, which is dramatic and plays like a ticking clock of time passing by emphasized a repeating piano motif and switching back to the Country Theme and the playful “Brothers Together” theme for a lush brief moment before repeating the piano theme. “Sunrise” is a beautiful, romantic sounding piece that is quite similar to that of the “Country Theme”, but full of lush beauty as it quotes the “Stay Gold” theme song performed by Stevie Wonder in the film which also underscores an important scene between C.Thomas Howell and Diane Lane later in the film with a lush statement of the theme recreated in “Cherry Says Goodbye”. Coppola really extends and enforces the drama with the ominous “Fate Theme”, which would play out throughout the film’s darkest moments backed up the tracks “Fight In The Park”, “Bob Is Dead” and “Rumble Variation / Dallas’ Death”, which aren’t dark as they seem, but they have very effective orchestrations that would suggest such with it’s moody horns, strings, piano rumbles and pounding percussion.
“Stay Gold” which was co-written by both Coppola and Wonder aside from Coppola’s wonderful dramatic score is the voice of film, Wonder’s soulful vocal really captivates the film from its’ opening and end credits. A wonderful song that has been one of my personal favorites ever since I first saw this film over twenty years and was only available as part of Wonder’s career highlight compilations, is still a powerful ballad that should’ve gotten the recognition it deserved when the film was released thirty years ago. The Alternate Version of the song which I really sounds like the one used to open the film, is just as powerful as the final version. Bill Hughes, did his own version of the song and while it is a faithful attempt, it still doesn’t hold water to Wonder’s. This is a very solid album that sadly came and went very quickly and I can easily see why because there are many fans of the film as much as I am and I’m glad to see the album succeed on that level. “The Outsiders” is a very special film that still resonates after 30 years on both the big and small screen and a film that was very dear to Francis Ford Coppola which why he had restored it to the way it should’ve been released in the first place. This album is a reminder of how great music can be without hitting you over the head and Coppola’s score is a justification of that. Thumbs up for this very special release.