What is good in life? The Conan soundtrack

For a while I thought my first post here would be about my hatred of all things Americana. I was going to make a pie chart of clichés versus original phrases in that Lumineers song. I was going to bake an actual pie to illustrate it. I had fake band names by the fedoraful.

And then I thought hey, there’s enough negativity on the Internet already. Let’s talk about something I actually like.

Let’s talk about Basil Poledouris.

You may think you’ve never heard of the guy, but I promise you have (unless you’re Amish or one of the kids from Flowers in the Attic, in which case happy rumspringa or eww, as the case may be). He did the soundtrack for RoboCop. The Hunt for Red October. Starship Troopers. FREE WILLY.

What I want to talk about today, though, is Conan the Barbarian.

Yeah, it’s kind of a weird film. You can trust me on this because I watched it once a year in college. I was in a fraternity, we had a Viking-themed party, it was a whole thing. Anyway, the acting isn’t great, the pacing is odd, and Robert E. Howard nerds will tell you it’s not particularly faithful to the source material.

What’s great about Conan is the music. It should have been a silent movie, and the first part of it, with the slaughter of Conan’s folks and the big wheel and the sex witch, nearly is. If there was a cut with all of the dialogue removed, I would sell it on street corners. It would be operatic. You’d lose Arnold’s accent, James Earl Jones’s phoned-in performance, and that weird undercurrent of misogyny (“you’re all sluts!” and the sex witch being notable examples). You’d keep the grand vistas, a guy who looks built to play Conan, and that guy punching a camel, all accentuated and made transcendent by one of the best film scores ever recorded.

It has everything you like. Big drums, big brass, big choral moments. A piece called “The Orgy.” There are even some quiet parts. The music speaks so eloquently of the grandeur and mystery of the Cimmerian’s quest that it builds a better Conan movie in your head.

It will make everything you do more awesome. And I mean that in the original, undiluted sense of the word.

Listen to it while you mow the grass, and imagine that you are crushing your enemies.

Leave it on in the other room while you’re washing dishes and see their dirt driven before you.

Put it on while you’re leaving snarky comments on some kid’s YouTube video, and hear in it the lamentations of his women.

And watch this video of Conan punching a camel, because seriously, it rules.

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