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Hunter Lee
Hunter Lee

Movie Crossroads Soundtrack

The ersatz blues story of the film gives Ry Cooder leeway to turn in an impressive blues-derived soundtrack featuring Sonny Terry along with his usual collaborators Van Dyke Parks, Jim Keltner, Nathan East, and others. But it's Cooder's guitar playing that highlights the album.

Movie Crossroads Soundtrack

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"Crossroads" borrows so freely and is a reminder of so many other movies that it's a little startling, at the end, to realize how effective the movie is and how original it manages to feel despite all the plunderings. The movie stars Ralph Macchio as a bright teenager who studied classical guitar at Julliard and worships as his heroes the great old blues musicians of the 1930s and 1940s. One day he tracks down a survivor of that era, a harmonica player named Willie Brown (Joe Seneca), in a nursing home. Macchio helps him escape, and they hit the road, hoboing their way down South to a crossroads where Seneca once made a deal with the devil.

It borrows, obviously, from Macchio's movie, "The Karate Kid" (1984), which also was the story of a young man's apprenticeship with an older master. It also borrows from the countless movies in which everything depends on who wins the big fight, match, game or duel in the last scene. The notion of the showdown with the devil may have been suggested by the country song "Devil Went Down to Georgia." And yet the remarkable thing is how fresh all this material seems, and how entertaining it is. Just when I'm ready to despair of a movie coming up with a fresh plot, a movie like "Crossroads" comes along to remind me that acting, writing and direction can redeem any plot and make any story new. The foundation for "Crossroads" is the relationship between the boy and the old man, and here we have two performances that are well-suited to one another.

Macchio, again as in "The Karate Kid," has an unstudied, natural charm. A lot of young actors seem to take themselves seriously, but not many have Macchio's gift of seeming to take other things seriously. We really believe, in this movie, that he is a fanatic about the blues, and has read all the books and listened to all the records.

Seneca does a terrific job as a rock-solid, conniving, no-nonsense old man who doesn't take this kid seriously at first, and uses him as a way to get out of the nursing home and back down South to the crossroads, where he has a long-standing rendezvous. The kid knows that Willie was a partner of the legendary blues musician Robert Johnson and he makes a deal with the old man. He'll help him return to that crossroads if the old man will teach him a lost Johnson song.

Along the way, the two men pick up a third partner, a tough young runaway named Frances (Jami Gertz), and there is a brief, sweet romance between the two young people before she leaves one morning, perhaps because it is better for the old man and the young one to move on to their mutual destiny. Gertz is a newcomer; this is her second major movie this year, after a somewhat thankless role in "Quicksilver," in which she worked for a bicycle messenger service. She's just right for this movie, with the toughness required by the character, and yet with the tenderness and the romantic notes that remind us that this is really a myth. Another good performance in the movie is by Joe Morton, who played "The Brother from Another Planet," and this time is the devil's assistant, sinister and ingratiating.

The film was directed by Walter Hill, who specializes in myths, in movie characters who seem to represent something greater than themselves. Detailed character studies are not his strong point; he makes movies such as "The Warriors," "48 HRS." and "Streets of Fire," in which the characters seem made out of the stuff of legend. In "48 HRS.," though, he also found the human qualities in the Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy characters, and he does that again this time, making Seneca and Macchio so individual, so particular, that we aren't always thinking that this movie is really about an old man and a boy and the devil.

A word about the music. Ry Cooder did most of the soundtrack, drawing from many blues sources, and the movie is wonderful to listen to: confident and sly and not all tricked up for Hollywood. The closing scene, the dueling guitars, presents a challenge that perhaps no film composer could quite solve (what's the right approach to music as a weapon?), but somehow Cooder actually does pull off the final showdown.

A wanna-be blues guitar virtuoso seeks a long-lost song by legendary musician, Robert Johnson.The movie Crossroads, released in 1986, features 15 songs from artists like Terry Evans and Ry Cooder, Amy Madigan, The Wonders and Joe Seneca , John Juke Logan (harmonica), The Wonders and Ry Cooder (guitar). What is your favorite song from Crossroads?

As we celebrate the 60th birthday (Nov. 4) of actor Ralph Macchio, most will remember him getting his leg swept in the Karate Kid franchise. But Macchio has had a long film career, one in which he also did some sweeping up in a guitar battle for his soul in the 1986 movie Crossroads.

Brokering a deal for a lost Robert Johnson song in return for breaking him out and helping him settle some business in Mississippi, Eugene and Willie hit the road. And while their journey takes them through some juke joints and involves a few scrapes along the way, it does eventually land the duo right at the legendary crossroads where Johnson sold his soul to the devil, and apparently Willie had a debt to pay as well.

But did Vai actually lose to an actor just learning to play guitar? Not really. In the name of movie magic, it's actually Vai who dubbed Macchio's composition while the actor mimed the parts on his guitar. The guitar battle scene also includes contributions from Cooder, Jorge Calderon, harmonica player Sonny Terry and legendary drummer Jim Keltner.

Speaking with Guitar World, Vai stated, I think people responded to Jack Butler because I was projecting so much intensity into the character. Kids respond to that kind of thing. Take a look at most video games, blockbuster movies, contemporary rock record releases, rock videos, etc. The majority of them are centered around sex and violence. Those elements light up the senses."

I tell you now, this film is still magic. I love it. And as I sat trying to work out what it was I liked about it, while happy to just like it for the sake of nostalgia at the same time, I managed to put my finger on it. This film introduced me to a lot of things within music. And I followed up. Did the homework. The first, obvious example is the character of Robert Johnson and the aura of his music; really they are only peripheral in the film, but I had been reading Guitar World interviews that kept mentioning the name Robert Johnson and it was around this time that The Complete Recordings was released. So that was purchased (on cassette). And, already a fan of Joe Satriani I loved watching Steve Vai appear as the character Jack Butler in the movie. I would go on to a cassette copy of Passion and Warfare. And the music from the film, the actual score, was by Ry Cooder. Again, at this point, it was a name I knew and mostly associated with his film work. I loved the soundtrack album to Crossroads (also on tape, before buying the CD and then the LP).

The original soundtrack for Hollow Knight was composed and performed by Christopher Larkin, and a few other artists. It is divided into two albums, one for the original game and another compiling the new tracks composed for the four content packs. The tracks in the albums are often composed of several musical suites for gameplay situations. A few others, mainly remixes, were omitted as well. 041b061a72


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