Goodbye, Lover / 1999 Composed

Goodbye, Lover / 1999
Suite from Goodbye Lover
# Title Duration
Main Titles - Sandra's Theme 2:44
Sandra Follows 0:00
The Gears Turn 1:46
Peggy's Story 0:00
Observations 0:00
Sex With An Olive 0:00
Victims 0:00
A Broken Heart 0:00
Rendezvous 0:00
Something Real 0:00
Goodbye, Ben 0:00
Crime Scene* 0:00
Protecting An Investment 0:00
Goodbye, Lover 0:00
Worried Window 0:00
Don't Walk Away From Me! 0:00
The Sins Begins 0:00
Scherzo Surprise 1:39
Plan A 0:00
Evidence Suite 0:00
Pompano Persuasion* 0:00
The Prescription 0:00
Sandra Screw 0:00
Being So Bad 0:00

Director's Quote

"Goodbye Lover turns fantasy on its head to look at the world as it probably really is. Or then maybe it isn't. This film needed a special kind of music. It needed to be knowing, mysterious, and not be afraid to have its tongue in its cheek when it could find it - its tongue, that is, not its cheek; it always knew where that was.

John wrote a beautiful score, completely understanding the subtle line this movie treads between what is and what isn't. He helped make the movie fun, intriguing and just a little bit dangerous, which if we're lucky, maybe just what life is. I felt lucky to have John do the score." - Roland Joffé

View a sample score sheet from "Main Titles"

John's Thoughts

Working with Roland Joffe and the team at Regency was a great experience because, well, they were nice people. Like John Badham, Joffe had worked with the best - Ennio Morricone and John Barry. So I was a little intimidated at first, until I got my feet wet. The moment they liked my theme, however, I really got into it. The score was one in which I was able to explore new territory and be erotic, playful, silly and Hitchcockian all at once.

From the CD Liner notes:

It's always exciting for any composer to be given the chance to expand upon his or her style by being offered a project which can reveal a new side. After seeing Goodbye, Lover, I knew that although it would be musically different for me, it was also right up my alley. In a rare experience, I was driving home from the workprint screening and pieces of the film's theme were already coming to me. I turned down the talk radio, and began humming it so I wouldn't forget it by the time I got home! It's when a theme is such an organic part of you that you fret they'll just hate it and that you'll be stymied as to what you're going to do. Being such a strange film, finding the right colors was a hard egg to crack. But thank goodness for my psyche, Roland and the gang responded to it, and we stayed in good sync from that point on.

The score's mission was to let the audience know, with a wink of an eye, that they were allowed to have fun with this film despite the fact that characters are murdered along the way. Goodbye, Lover is a wry, delicious thriller that's hard to pigeonhole as belonging to one genre or another. Therefore the music too had to define this skewed world in some savory way. I wanted this flavor to be playfully devious, mischievous and erotic, yet not at all goofy, as this would undermine the maturity of this different thriller.

Sandra is a bad girl, but really never knows or considers what she is doing as terrible. I tried to make her theme reflect this bizarre symbiosis of innocence and malevolence. One of Sandra's many quirks is listening to Tony Robbins self-help tapes and also to The Sound of Music. So as an in-joke I built little "isms" from Rogers' & Hammerstein's score into her theme, mostly utilizing "My Favorite Things." Later in the film, every time Sandra's mischievous gears are turning, a repetitive motif loosely drawn from "My Favorite Things" plays, reminding us of Sandra's conflicted psyche, as well as cementing Sandra more strongly to her theme. The theme itself is comprised of three main elements I could draw from throughout the film: A string ostinato backdrop reflecting slyness and plotting; the main melody characterized by glockenspiel, harpsichord and piano with saxophone reflecting her playful naughtiness; and a lamentable secondary theme on piano addressing her oft childlike poutiness, (featured in the cue, "A Broken Heart.") All of these elements intertwined, especially in the opening titles, make up "Sandra's Theme." The highlight of the scoring process was asking the orchestra to be as "erotic" as they could be. It wasn't an often-heard request I could tell.

Another off-kilter character is Peggy, played by Mary-Louise Parker. Her's is more of an "up-to-something" theme, characterized by staccato flutes accompanying her mysterious activities. In one scene, (the cue "Observations"), Peggy's and Sandra's theme collide at the end, as Sandra spies on Peggy.

Ellen DeGeneres' Detective Pompano is a cynical character who hates her life and exists in a sort of regretful purgatory. Although she's not enough the focus of the story to warrant a major theme, I tried to use the scenes of Pompano investigating the crime scenes as musical opportunities to enhance the audience's insight into her character. She' not just a cynical bitch, but instead a character we might relate to. So many of her scenes begin with the killer's murder motif (as in "Victims"), but soon merge into Pompano's music characterized mostly by piano and clarinet. The cue, "Crime Scene" displays Pompano's theme most succinctly, as this is when we're introduced to her for the first time. Yet as soon as she steps into Sandra's fray, Sandra's music takes over; after-all every deed and it's result ultimately boils down to Sandra, and her theme – the film's signature.

Riding the fine line and supporting a lot of the dialog was the most challenging part of the score. For instance, the toughest scene to score was a lengthy dialog sequence between Detective Pompano and Sandra. (The cue "Pompano Persuasion.") Detective Pompano walks into Sandra's apartment, having already figured out what Sandra has been doing and using this knowledge, blackmails Sandra with a long monologue. The entire scene comprises a series of time cuts during which Pompano talks to Sandra, cutting a deal. After several of these cuts, she eventually ties up Sandra. Without score it was a bit uninvolving, but the scene's length meant that scoring it could make it monotonous and cluttered. So that was the challenge. The tactic for this and so many scenes was once again to have the music tell a story, and to make it fun and sly.

It was a lot of fun working with Roland and the team at Regency on this odd little film that for some strange reason was dear to all of us. Maybe we're all just a bit strange. Maybe.