New West Records will release Richard Thompson’s The Cold Blue – Original Motion Picture Score tomorrow, May 23rd. The 19-track score was written and arranged by Thompson for the acclaimed filmmaker Erik Nelson’s film of the same name. In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend, The Cold Blue will be shown in 750 theaters across the U.S. for one day only — tomorrow, May 23rd — and then will see it’s HBO premiere on June 6th (Tickets & theater information can be found HERE). Available for digital download and across all major streaming services starting tomorrow, Thompson’s original motion picture score is streaming in its entirety exclusively today via NPR Music.
In 1943, William Wyler, one of Hollywood’s most renowned and versatile directors, went to Europe to document air war in progress for his film The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress. Wyler flew actual combat missions with B-17’s and during production, one of his cameramen, Harold Tannenbaum, was lost along with his plane over France. The footage was filmed during the spring and summer on 8th Air Force bases in England, and on bombing missions over Europe. Incredibly, all of Wyler’s original 16-millimeter footage shot for The Memphis Belle was recently discovered deep in the vaults of the National Archives. The filmmaker Erik Nelson constructed the new documentary, The Cold Blue, out of the silent material as well as new interviews he conducted with nine surviving B-17 crewmen. The veteran’s voices take us through the harrowing world that Wyler and his cameramen captured in the summer of 1943. Painstakingly restoring every frame, Nelson removed dust spots and scratches, and restored the color of the original footage. A meditation on youth, war and trauma, The Cold Blue stands as a tribute to one of the world’s great filmmakers and the men of the 8th Air Force who flew mission after suicidal mission in the Second World War.
For The Cold Blue – Original Motion Picture Score, Richard Thompson brought together a small chamber orchestra comprised of four french horns, a string quartet, double bass, oboe, clarinet, harmonica and percussion. The orchestra was conducted by Peter Askim and recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, CA. Today, NPR Music has premiered Thompson’s score in its entirety, calling it “Stunning.” Hear it in full HERE.
Speaking to NPR, Richard Thompson said, “I wrote almost wall to wall music…Scoring under speech was less of an issue than competing with the noise of the aircraft; I had to be sensitive to the droning of the engines being in (or close to) certain musical keys, and cues were written from this basis sometimes.” Continuing, “Every burst of ack-ack, every empty shell case landing on the floor of the plane, every whine of the Pratt and Whitney engines, all contribute to the emotion of the moment, and it is always the role of the music to push those emotions a little further.”
Of Thompson’s score, Nelson stated, “I’ve known Richard Thompson for close to 40 years, and I should have learned by now never to take him — or his work — for granted. I was stunned at how deep he dove into the nuances of The Cold Blue, to create a whole original score that both speaks to the time of the events depicted, and to our times today. I can’t imagine any other artist capturing the essence of this project in quite the same way, with quite the same articulation and clarity of purpose. And, oh yeah, he DOES know his way around World War Two airplanes.”
Richard Thompson’s musical influence cannot be overstated. Having co-founded the groundbreaking group Fairport Convention as a teenager in the 60s, he and his bandmates invented the distinctive strain of British Folk Rock. He left the group by the age of 21 which was followed by a decade long musical partnership with his then-wife Linda, to over 30 years as a highly successful solo artist. In 2011, Thompson received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) personally bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. The Los Angeles Times called him the finest rock songwriter after Dylan and the best electric guitarist since Hendrix and Rolling Stone has named him one of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time. He has received lifetime achievement awards for songwriting from Britain’s BBC Awards, the Americana Music Association, and was awarded the prestigious Ivor Novello Award. His song “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” was named one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Greatest Songs Since 1923.” A wide range of musicians have recorded Thompson’s songs including Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Sleater-Kinney, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Jones, David Byrne, Don Henley, Los Lobos, and many more. His massive body of work includes many Grammy nominated albums as well as numerous soundtracks, including Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man. Thompson’s genre defying mastery of both acoustic and electric guitar along with engaging energy and onstage wit continue to earn him new fans and a place as one of the most distinctive virtuosos and writers in Folk Rock history. In 2018, Thompson released his critically acclaimed studio album 13 Rivers, which Uncut Magazine called “His best album in decades.”
The Cold Blue – Original Motion Picture Score will be available for download starting tomorrow, May 23rd, via New West Records.
Richard Thompson The Cold Blue – Original Motion Picture Score Track Listing:
- The Cold Blue
- The Cold Blue Part Two
- No Tomorrow
- Fresh Eggs
- A Sudden Boom
- Tremendous Workers
- Beautiful Sight
- Beautiful Ship
- Cold Air
- Over There
- Big Thunderstorm
- Kill a Human
- Red Flare
- Just Germans
- I’ll Be Seeing You
- Family (Guitar Version)
- The Cold Blue (Guitar Version)