Bound for Glory

Leonard Rosenman

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Bound for Glory Review

by William Ruhlmann

"Music by Woody Guthrie," proclaims a credit on the cover of this original motion picture score album for Bound for Glory, a film based on Guthrie's memoir. It's an ironic credit, since Guthrie was not known to write music, but rather to adapt or just borrow traditional folk tunes and write new lyrics over them. Here, the adaptations are credited to the next name on the LP cover, Leonard Rosenman, and on the back cover Rosenman is also credited for "original compositions." It is he who actually scored the movie, and his orchestral background music is juxtaposed with Guthrie's music, as played on acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica. It makes for an odd mixture, as Rosenman is very much a Hollywood composer, even evoking some of the melodramatic style of the movies of the 1930s, when this film is set. Occasionally, as in his arrangement of "So Long It's Been Good to Know Yuh (Dusty Old Dust)" and the final "This Land Is Your Land," he recalls the orchestrations Gordon Jenkins came up with to accompany the Weavers when they performed Guthrie songs in a folk-pop style in the early '50s. Interspersed with Rosenman's creations are performances of Guthrie-related songs by the film's star, David Carradine. Carradine makes no attempt to impersonate Guthrie, who performed in an austere, semi-spoken way much of the time. Carradine possesses a clear, light tenor, and he sings with pop panache, including ingratiating vocal mannerisms, all of it a world away from Guthrie. (He is also heard singing "Deportee," a song Guthrie never sang at all, though he wrote the words, which later were set to music by someone else.) Onscreen, Bound for Glory is a compromised effort that tends to homogenize Woody Guthrie, and the accompanying soundtrack album is of a piece with it.

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