Remembering Jack Nitzsche

April 25, 2007

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I watched “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” last night, and noted that the score was composed by Jack Nitzsche. This was a name I first saw in the dreamy cut, “Expecting to Fly” from the Buffalo Springfield’s second album, AGAIN. Jack’s orchestral accompaniment alone brought a magical sophistication to the group that outdid the Moody Blues pseudo-orchestral sound. It didn’t sound “classical,” nor easy listening. It was an original sound. After that, I discovered his poignant Americana string quartet interlude on Neil Young’s first album, “String Quartet from Whiskey Boot Hill.”

Nitzche’s discography is stunning. He has produced, arranged, composed, or performed for The Rolling Stones, Tim Buckley, Captain Beefheart, Crazy Horse, Doris Day, Jackie DeShannon, Dino, Desi and Billy (!! anyone remember them?), The Everly Bros, Leslie Gore, Rod McKuen (sic), Tom Petty, Mamas and the Papas, The Ronettes, David Rose, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Soupy Sales, Ringo Starr, Barbra Streisand, The Tubes, The Turtles, and Neil Young to list a portion of them.

Jack Nitzche’s film credits are equally impressive. Films I know include PERFORMANCE, THE EXORCIST, CRUISING, CUTTER’S WAY, AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, PERSONAL BEST, BREATHLESS, STARMAN, STREETS OF GOLD, STAND BY ME, and THE INDIAN RUNNER.

There are currently two CD compilations of his work available.

I’m impressed by this man, he had an amazingly rich career. To think of an aesthetic that spans The Ronettes to the scoring motion pictures. He seemed out of the limelight considering the the wild times he lived through. The impression I get is that he was happy to be out of that light. He was really a kind of a George Martin figure, but on a smaller scale and mostly in Los Angeles.

I wish more bands and pop artists would hire people like Nitzche or Martin [or ME!] and take their sound to musical places they might never discover on their own.

Jack died of a heart attack in 2000 at the age of 63. I look forward to discovering more of his music and influence.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

NITZSCHE April 30, 2007 at 9:30 pm

Thank you. My dad would have loved to have read these thoughts about him. If only I had more people like you at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I wouldn’t have as much trouble getting him in.
Again, thank you for the kind words for my Dad.

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