The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Stacks o' Wax #24


Alfred Hitchcock
Music to Be Murdered By
(Imperial Records #9052; 1958)

Sadly, I'm still on the lookout for a decent copy of this one (I believe there is a CD, but I'd rather have trusty old vinyl), but from what I understand it's largely a collection of vaguely menacing mood music. Hitchcock does wry intros for each track, and I've tracked down a couple of those.

Side 1 intro
Side 2 intro

From the liner notes: "These days a murder is amusing for the onlookers and the murderer but no one thinks of making things pleasant for the victim. He may be a tiresome bore but he is still rather essential and is entitled to some consideration. Music, I feel, will heighten his appreciation and make his own murder the truly ennobling experience it should be."

18 comments :

Robert Fiore said...

Do you suppose anyone ever really knew what was going on in that head of his?

Robert Fiore said...

Meaning to say, just to amplify, that the persona is a mask, and it's meant to be a mask, and the mask is impenetrable.

Tom Sutpen said...

I doubt if anyone except Alma Reville Hitchcock knew what made him tick, either as an artist or as a human being. Once he fixed it on himself, the mask rarely, if ever, slipped (though it would seem to on a few occasions).

Hitchcock was in fact so steadfast in the maintenance of that persona over time that I've come to believe its very creation, the sheer willfulness of it, was a critical factor in his own sense of himself as an artist (apart from its spectacularly successful marketing dimension). Other words, he knew he needed whatever cover it gave him in order to survive in that business and accomplish what he did.

Christopher said...

I love it!..you just stuck the needle in my FLIP side..
the record is long playing..tho you might not be."
How charming.. how delightful..would you like some Tea?..

Loye said...

Just less than a week ago I watched his interview with Tom Snyder from the old Tomorrow Show (the entire interview is on youtube). I highly recommend it to everyone that enjoys this blog.

Lango Aurelian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
swac said...

Hitchcock expert Drew Casper talks about exactly what Tom says, that the Hitchcock persona was a mask and a shield, which really blossomed once he came to the U.S. and started dealing with U.S. producers, and he realized he'd have to build up a public identity if he wanted the kind of leverage he'd need to make his films his way.

If you asked the average moviegoer of the '40s and '50s to name a film director, I wonder who they could come up with besides Hitchcock, Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Capra and John Ford. Maybe Lubitsch (in the '30s, anyway) and Von Stroheim.

andwhatelseisthere said...

hitchcock was a great kick in the butt. hard to forget.
ANDWHATELSEISTHERE

Tom Sutpen said...

Lango:

I'll tell you what I've told everyone else who's attempted to make an issue of this over the last five years:

The author of that title, grammatical errors and all, was Charles Mingus (it was the provisional title for a composition better known as 'Gunslinging Bird'). Normally I would suggest you take it up with him, but . . . he rode on ahead about three decades ago.

In any event, we're not changing it.

Richard Gibson said...

I caught a great film in LFF 'Double Take' - about the cold war, Hitchcock's doubles...same director as 'Looking for Alfred'.

I'd recommend it to anyone.

Robert Fiore said...

I think a few moviegoers of the time could have named Orson Welles, too, who shows the limitations of building a persona as leverage with producers. Still, that's an interesting question. Hawks and Fritz Lang may have had some name recognition as well. Perhaps just as interesting asked the other way -- how many moviegoers would have recognized the name Michael Curtiz? Or even Vincente Minelli? Could one in a thousand recognize the name Boetticher?

Tom Sutpen said...

Short answer is No. Most of the public still doesn't know Budd Boetticher. In fact, I'd even go further and say that most of the people who've seen Budd Boetticher's movies don't know (or care) who he is/was. There were very very few famous movie directors in that period. Capra, DeMille, Stroheim, Chaplin, Hitchcock, Ford, Wilder; maybe one or two others (Welles was famous as an actor more than as a director . . . a distinction he shared with Ida Lupino and, later, John Cassavetes).

According to Patrick McGilligan's biography, Fritz Lang at one point tried to mount a PR offensive to counter Hitchcock's 'Master of Suspense' brand. He wanted to be known as the 'Master of Psychology' . . . this when he was making pictures like 'Rancho Notorious' and 'American Guerilla in the Philippines'. It didn't take.

As famous as some directors were, Hitchcock vaulted over them all, however (with the possible exception of Cecil B. DeMille, who appeared onscreen enough to be recognizable to the general public) when he started hosting the television show. That's when he literally became a full-on trademark.

Robert Fiore said...

On that theme, one of the things that made DeMille the face of Hollywood was that he hosted Lux Radio Theater for nine years.

Steve Kostelecky said...

Don't have the album on vinyl but do have it on 8-Track. I believe the Book of the Month Club offered it some time ago.

Timmy said...

Thank you. Extremely fascinating, that Hitch. Still watch reruns of the Tele show.

theflashdance said...

thank you! amazing. i love it.

Stu said...

LP for sale

http://gemm.com/q.cgi?rb=ENDLESSGROOVE&via=link&artist=alfred+hitchcock&title=music+to+be+murdered+by&media=vinyl

not cheap but if you're as keen as you say you are

swac said...

Yeah, there's also one on eBay for $149. A bit too rich for my blood right now, especially after the arrival of the new Sam Fuller and Columbia Film Noir box sets.

There was a vinyl reissue in the '80s on DRG Records that can be had for cheaper (around $25) but sadly lacks the brilliant cover art.

There's also a "remix" by Dan the Automator on YouTube.