'Svengali's soundtrack makes a very good film great' NME
It was amazing how many times I'd run in breathless to the edit suite waving the song I was convinced would be the 'one'. We'd quickly load it, play the scene with the song and then there would be a silence and everyone would slowly look at me.
It's wrong isn't it?
Sad nods. Off I'd go again to my record collection or the internet. Scouring for the right tune. You see, when you make a film that's about rock 'n' roll, then you've set yourself a precedent. It has to be a great soundtrack. I used to lie there at night and run through bands and tracks that would fit from each decade as me and the director John Hardwick decided early doors to pick a song from the 50s (when rock and roll joined popular culture) and every decade after, to now, where pop music lives, like a leviathan, dominating everyday life.
Much has changed since the early afro American blues singers left the Mississippi Delta and moved north to Chicago for work and the electrification of their instruments. A thousand offshoots and subcultures have formed and mutated from young Robert Johnson who so famously sold his soul at the crossroads to the devil so he would get all the best tunes. In return he lost his life at the now infamous age of just 27.
But there is still one basic truth that lives in all those orphaned children who followed the dream of a fast track life of excess and excitement... whatever you played had to come from the heart.
To be great you couldn't fake it. Many tried and almost succeeded but there's the immortals who have to perform the truth. They can't do anything else. Your Jimis and Johns, your Marvins, Stevies and Kurts. They were born to be what they became. And they gave their souls so that our lives could just be magic for just a few minutes.
The soundtrack of Svengali was worked on for months. Every so often something magic would happen. When we first laid down Georgie Fame playing Somebody Stole my Thunder or The Stairs playing Weed Bus and the room would erupt. It was beautiful. The perfect marriage that is pictures and sound working in a way that makes us what we are, human beings. With heightened feelings of love and the appreciation of beauty. That moment we all have in a movie where everything comes together perfectly, what the master Frank Capra described as a films 'moment' the very essence of what we are. It's Jonny entering the bar to Jumping Jack Flash in Mean Streets, it's the slow motion walk in Reservoir Dogs it's the skinheads walking to Toots and the Maytals in slow motion in This Is England. It's life boiled down to its purest essence. It's the 'moment' again, what every religion and philosophy tells us is the most important thing.
I think people will love the soundtrack of Svengali. It's covers seven decades and it's got a range of bands who were never ever anything other than honest. And at the end of the day, that's all we can ask for in our heroes. To be what we never could.
Svengali opens in cinemas across the UK on 21 March.Suggest a correction