If the ’60s were a movie, surely this would be its theme song

The Magnificent SevenA while back I did a post about a great song from the late 1960s – a song so great, in fact, that I made the executive decision to name it the ultimate late-1960s song. It was, of course, Glen Campbell’s recording of Wichita Lineman.

While I stand by my decision, another great 1960s song has been running through my head a lot lately – thanks to it having appeared on a recent playlist for Julie Nesrallah’s classical-music show Tempo on CBC Radio 2 – and I am pretty sure it deserves a title too. Not “Ultimate Late-‘60s Song,” because it was too early for that. But maybe something like “If The ‘60s Were A Movie, This Would Be Its Theme Song.”

It is, as you will have guessed from the photo atop this post, the theme from the 1960 movie The Magnificent Seven, composed by Elmer Bernstein.

My reasons for singling out this piece of music as rather definitive of a decade are these:

1. It was ubiquitous in that decade, thanks in part to having been scooped up by the Marlboro folks as the theme for their Marlboro Man TV commercials.

2. It was, and is, a truly great piece of music.

3. Its stirring tempo carries a sense of wide open spaces, and freedom. Which makes one think of all those teenagers who, in the late 1960s and into the early 1970s, decided to follow Jack Kerouac’s footsteps of almost two decades earlier and go out on the road, to find freedom and wide open spaces and, yes, America. It is, ultimately, music that expresses optimism and near-endless possibility. In my humble opinion.

You might agree and you might not, and I’d be interested to hear your views – send in your comments, please! But first, let’s have a listen:

People, doesn’t that just take you back? And make you feel optimistic and full of possibility, to boot?

Then my work here is done.

2 thoughts on “If the ’60s were a movie, surely this would be its theme song

  1. Philip Morris’s co-opting of this fabulous theme loses some of its wide-open-spaces, fresh-air appeal when one remembers the smoking-related deaths of Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and four men who appeared in Cowboy Killer Marlboro Man ads. Ads which — even with the stirring power of the music — paled in comparison to the most insidious cigarette commercial of the 1960s (sorry to stray so far off topic, but this is magnificently diabolical seven times over):

    • Wow, that is an amazing thing. Just amazing. Basically it sends every wrong message in the book – women doing the work while men laze around; smoking is good for guys; smoking is also good for hard-working Wilma – to kids! This ad was new to me (or, if old, forgotten), and it’s pretty stunning to think that the world once found this acceptable. Still – not even that can detract from the magnificence of the Magnificent Seven theme, for me at least.

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