Endless Loop: Chi Mai

enniomorriconeHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back to Endless Loop.

“Chi Mai” by Ennio Morricone

Way back in the olden times, when I was still in film school, my favorite classes were the screenwriting ones. More than courses on the business side, or the production side, or the technical side of the industry, my heart and soul fell in with taking the movie in your head and putting it down on paper. These classes really piqued my interest in writing in general, and I am forever grateful for that. This was probably the point in time where my writing habits became completely and utterly ingrained in my brain. To be clear, I’m not saying they’re good habits, but they’re my habits, and I’m just going to go with them: getting lost in my own headspace while staring at a screen, waiting for everything to click and spew forth in an unending stream, music forever blasting in the background. That last one is probably the biggest one. I listen to music on the regular for most of the day, everyday, but especially when I get into writing mode. And that music inevitably affects what I leave on the page. Many a fictional scene has been scored to whatever is on my stereo at the time…and a couple of them are actually good.

Italian film score composer Ennio Morricone’s “Chi Mai,” taken from the soundtrack to 1971’s Maddalena and later on 1981’s Le Professionnel, served as the background to one of my favorites. I won’t bore you with the particular setup details, but the film scene I envisioned involved two old friends fighting to the death, our protagonist finally getting the upper hand and choking the life out of his former comrade, all while the beautiful strings of “Chi Mai” float in the air around the two.

I have done this a hundred times with all kinds of music and songs, pop or otherwise, but the cinematic nature of The Maestro’s compositions just lends itself to writing movie scenes. They were all intended to be used in films after all.

Morricone’s music has made a pretty big impact on me going back about fifteen years or so. I had always been aware of him, being as the man is responsible for some of the most iconic film scores ever put to tape, but I didn’t really appreciate his art, or later become somewhat obsessed with it, until I listened to two albums. One of those albums is the score to Sergio Leone’s 1968 masterpiece Once Upon a Time in the West, a record so haunting and beautiful and perfect as to be one of my favorites of all time. The other is saxophonist and experimental jazz composer John Zorn’s 1986 Morricone cover/tribute album, The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays the Music of Ennio Morricone, a quirky record of stripped, warped, and/or frenetic versions of classics by The Maestro. These two records began my Morricone fanaticism, an obsession that continues to endure, whether it be by procuring old records, influencing the songs I write and record, or serving as the unofficial soundtrack to so much of what comes out of my head. “Chi Mai” is just one example.

So, put a little bit of Morricone in your life. You deserve it.


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

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