Saturday, April 30, 2005

Ecstasy of Gold

I was probably ten or twelve years old. Carol, a friend of my mother's, had been visiting for a few weeks, during which time we had dsiscovered our common affinity for spaghetti westerns. I liked Carol. She was (is?) a no-nonsense nurse from the south-west. Arizona or somewhere. At the time, she was working at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Where she met mom.


A couple of months later, a package came in the mail. It contained a cassette. An audio cassette (you still remember those, right?). It had Carol's almost illegible handwriting on there, which was of no use at all. My mother popped the cassette into a player and presto, out blared Ennio Morricone! It was the theme from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, I think. My mother did not know the music, and was unimpressed with my account of what it was, and that it had to be meant for me. She took the interesting position that this was some 'world music', intended for my sisters.

World music?!?

About a week later, my sisters' total disinterest in the cassette signed its fate: It landed in my cassette player, and did not get any real relief until the late eighties, when I had patched it together for the last time, and my incessant playing of it had wore down its last note.

Out of all the marvelous gems on that tape, my favorite was by far a song that I never knew what was called. Not until a month ago or so, when I was watching the last scene of Some Kind of Monster—with the Hetfield commentary—did I finally learn the name of this song, which still sends shivers down my spine when I hear it: Ecstacy of Gold. Turns out that Metallica has used it as a warm-up for every single one of their concerts for twenty years. Almost since I heard it first. Go figure.

Today, I was browsing the iTunes Music Store. Lo and behold, what do I find? None other than the Jack of all trades, Yo-Yo Ma, playing Ennio Morricone. With a "Roma Sinfonietta", no less. This appears to be only one of at least four of Yo-Yo's albums released last year, and he already has one out this year! Is it a cellist or a machine? What was imminently sadder was that the original version is nowhere to be found in the store.

So I just got it off GiFT. And am currently sitting with a shivering spine. Man, this is good stuff!