June 29th, 2013


Michael Kamen. I'll hum a doodle-de-doo for him*.

Got listening this morning to Michael Kamen's genuinely fun score to The Three Musketeers (1993), and got thinking about the guy. Kamen passed away in 2003 after several years living with multiple sclerosis. Years before that, in the Eighties, I became a fan of his. There's a frequent warmth to his music, there's wit to it (all sorts of musical jokes and nods in his three Die Hard scores) and, when he wanted to hit you with it, there's deep sincerity and emotionality. Even in something like the score to Road House.

I got to talk to Kamen once, in a phone interview for my Honors College thesis. That was in early 1996, and is still one of the coolest things I've gotten to do in my career as a geek. He was funny, open, and candid -- sometimes almost uncomfortably so, like talking about how frustrating an experience 1988's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen was. (Kamen sometimes got mad enough on that project to scream, and from what I've heard, he was NOT usually a screamer.) Though the result was one of my favorite scores for one of my favorite movies. And I liked that Kamen, a native New Yorker who later moved to Britain, drifted between the American accent he used to talk to me and a softer British accent when he put the phone aside and spoke to someone on his end.

He was, by all accounts, a lusty, goofy guy. I also love how focused on love he was. He dedicated almost every album he did to his wife and daughters: "It's all for Sandra, Sasha and Zoe. MK." He also dedicated his music to 2001's Band of Brothers to a man, Paul Kamen, who would've been his uncle if he'd lived long enough. Paul Kamen was a U.S. soldier who fought in Europe during World War II -- a Jewish person going after Nazis, understand -- and who died only three days before V-E Day.

Anyway. I'm thinking of a talented, good person today, and being glad I met him, if only briefly over the phone. And I still have the music. Even to obscure stuff like 1991's Company Business.

* One of Michael Kamen's little musical signatures was this "doodle-dee-doo" tune that showed up in, I dunno, 80% of his scores. There briefly was a website in the 1990s dedicated to showing examples of that.