The Soundtrack Remains the Same

Ludwig Super Classic at Track Studios

While I wait for Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer to call, here’s some music I recorded for a couple of industrial films.

Until the early ’80s, Washington, D.C., was a hotbed of taxpayer-supported documentaries, training films, and informational filmmaking. Almost none of it was necessary. Like everyone else, I was happy to take the cash.

Tragically, I never got a copy of any of the tunes from my greatest session, a song cycle for the film School Bus Safety and You. I did keep the sheet music, and the lyrics stick with me these many decades later:

Be at your bus stop on time
Always wait by the yellow line
Be careful, courteous, and kind
And ride the bus that your assigned

If you can imagine the cloying sing-songiness, you are only halfway to imagining the extremely cloying sing-songiness. Barney would be proud.

Anyway, the first tune is from a film created to explain the wacky new “European-style” road signs that the government was forcing on unsuspecting Americans. You know, the red circle-and-slash? Whose meaning is pretty close to obvious. Yes, there was a time when the U.S. didn’t take its marching orders — and don’t-walk orders — from France. Of the dozen or so cuts, I think this track states the theme nicely, don’t you?

The European Way…

UPDATE: After listening to this again, I do believe that Tommy Hannum is playing the pedal steel on the track. Tommy’s big in Nashville these days, but back then he was a member of the Rosslyn Mountain Boys.

The 1970s were dangerous time. For one thing, Al Gore was preoccupied with courting Tipper, leaving the country in the grip of the greatest menace since fluoridation. From the stirring documentary Drinking Water Alert, this song helped win the Vietnam war.

Watch what you drink…