The stellar success of Mike Oldfield's instrumental debut album, Tubular Bells, rested on many factors, but few were so pertinent as the music's abduction for use in the opening credits of the hit movie The Exorcist.
For listeners familiar with the full album, the movie offers a disconcerting listen, a mini-medley that opens with a brusque edit of the opening passage swings briefly into the so-evocative spectral merry-go-round sequence and then dives in and out of the distorted guitar and bass sections before returning to the opening theme. Thus is the entire 40-minute experience condensed down to a little over three, but any sacrifice of tension and artistry was surely vindicated as a single of the edit, not unnaturally entitled "Tubular Bells (Now the Original Theme From The Exorcist)," soared into the American Top Ten.
Oldfield himself never saw the movie itself. "I was much too frightened to go and see it," he admitted. "Judging from what I've read in the papers, I don't wanna know. The thing nobody realizes," he continued, "is that I knew absolutely nothing at all about this." It transpired that although he was aware that an American film company wanted to excerpt Tubular Bells for a soundtrack, Oldfield himself was not even consulted before his music was grafted onto what became widely regarded as among the most horrific horror films ever made. And, while he was swift to add, "...not that I minded," one got the impression that, deep down, he did.