There is an incredibly rich tradition of sport inspired and related music deeply ingrained in our collective psyche. Let’s eat “some peanuts and Cracker Jack” (Take Me Out to the Ball Game by Jack Norworth, 1908) while we celebrate magnificent tunes from outstanding sport related films.
“You’re gonna eat lightnin’ and you’re gonna crap thunder!” (Rocky, 1976)
The greatest underdog sports movie triumphs at multiple levels. A true hero fighting for love and honor emerges with glory from a valiant defeat to inspire a nation. Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now” is an extraordinarily powerful anthem and one of the most recognizable film themes ever. Like Rocky Balboa, the inspirational and very moving score is a bona fide champion and a genuine winner.
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” (Chariots of Fire, 1981)
The genial synthesizer composer Vangelis crafted one of the most memorable soundtracks of all time for this heroic and transcendent racing drama. The composition is passionate, riveting, stimulating and extraordinarily moving. His music for this film bested steep competition (On Golden Pond, Raiders of the Lost Ark) and won the Academy Award for best original score.
“Well you’re better than any player I ever had. And you’re the best God damn hitter I ever saw. Suit up.” (The Natural, 1984)
The movie tells the story of Roy Hobbs, a man with incredible raw talent who is struck down in his prime, but gets a second chance to fulfill his dream of athletic glory through determination and integrity. The music by Randy Newman is sweetly nostalgic, and truly inspirational. It transports us to simpler and better time. Aaron Copeland would have considered it a Grand Slam.
“If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we’re gonna be winners.” (Hoosiers, 1986)
Considered by many the greatest sports film of all time, it is the story of Coach Norman Dale and his underdog basketball team rising to the challenge, and beating the odds. It highlights finding redemption, second chance at success, love for basketball, innocence of youth, and majestic rural Americana. The heartfelt and stirring score by Jerry Goldsmith has a beautiful and sublime melody. Prepared to be inspired, uplifted, touched and enlightened, while you try in vain to hold back your tears.
“If you build it, he will come.” (Field of Dreams, 1989)
A struggling Iowa farmer transforms a cornfield into a baseball diamond and a spiritual portal. Nostalgia for baseball’s Golden Age drives multitude of fans to visit the field where Shoeless Joe Jackson’s ghost comes to play the greatest game ever invented. James Horner’s subtle but mesmerizing music lift our hearts and spirits. It is the perfect companion for this beautiful, enchanting and heartbreakingly charming baseball fantasy.
“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.” (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, 1993)
The film is a celebration of the live and myth of the kung fu film star, an inspired man who through great effort and self-confidence would become martial-arts most enduring legend. The moving score by Randy Edelman is powerful and captivating, an emotional tour de force and an instant classic.
As eloquently stated by master composer John Williams, sport tunes are intended to musically represent “the spirit of cooperation, of heroic achievement, all the striving and preparation that go before the events and all the applause that comes after them.” (In reference to his composition Olympic Fanfare and Theme, 1984)
Notable Sport Film Tunes
Brian’s Song (1971 TV Movie) – Michel Legrand “The Hands of Time”
Rocky (1976) – Bill Conty “Gonna Fly Now”
Ice Castles (1978)-Marvin Hamlisch
The Champ (1979) – Dave Grusin
Victory (1981)- Bill Conti
Chariots of Fire (1981) – Vangelis
The Natural (1984) – Randy Newman
Hoosiers (1986) – Jerry Goldsmith
Lucas (1986) – Dave Grusin
Field of Dreams (1989) – James Horner
A League of Their Own (1992) – Hans Zimmer
Dragon : The Bruce Lee Story (1993) – Randy Edelman “The Dragon’s Heartbeat”
Rudy (1993)– Jerry Goldsmith
Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) – James Horner
Cobb (1995) – Elliot Goldenthal
Space Jam (1996) – James Newton Howard
Finding Forrester (2000) – Israel Kamakwiwo’ole “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World”
61* (2001 TV Movie) – Marc Shaiman
The Rookie (2002) – Carter Burwell
Seabiscuit (2003)- Randy Newman
Miracle (2004) – Mark Isham
Million Dollar Baby (2005) – Clint Eastwood
Speed Racer (2008) – Michael Giacchino
Moneyball (2011) – Michael Danna
Soul Surfer (2011) – Marco Beltrami
Warrior (2011) – Mark Isham