The Last of Us, Original Soundtrack, music by Paul Chasman

The Last of Us, Original Soundtrack, music by Paul Chasman

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I have always wanted to write a film score.  Over the years, many people have told me my music evokes visual images, and I’ve often thought that given the right opportunity, I could create a vivid soundscape for a film.  I have a pet peeve about movies in which the music distracts from the content, and I have vowed that if I ever wrote a score, my music would compliment the film, not get in the way.

So when Wes Cecil asked me to write the music for the film based on his wonderful play, “The Last of Us,” I leaped at the chance.  I began watching movies and listening to scores, most notably Nino Rota’s brilliant treatment of “The Godfather,” Jerry Bock’s inspiring “Fiddler on the Roof, and Ennio Morricone’s irresistible innovations in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”  At Wes’ bidding, I listened to Smetana, Berlioz, and lots of gypsy music.  I was influenced by composers such as Prokofiev and John Williams who have painted such great musical pictures. 

As is often the case when artists are inspired, it didn’t seem as if I wrote this music--more as if I took dictation.  From the time I began reading the script, Wes’ characters, Mauschen, Mama, Papa, and Franz came to life, and as they did, music describing those characters poured out of me.  I gave a lot of thought to how I wanted to treat the score, but once I began, I got out of the way--the music wrote itself.  Working strictly from the script and an audio recording of the play, I began by composing themes for each character and for key situations.  I knew from the beginning that the Narrator theme would be a central, recurring piece that would unify the entire movie.  Within that, I wanted a memorable phrase, a “hook” that would punctuate the action throughout.  This, like so much of what I envisioned, seemed to magically appear.

It is serendipitous that unbeknownst to Wes, he asked a Jewish composer to write the score for his movie with a Jewish theme.  Although I don’t identify with my Jewish heritage and I’m uncomfortable being cast with any group or tribe, while I was composing, I felt my Jewish roots.  I smelled my grandmother’s cooking, heard my grandparents’ accents, saw the concentration camp tattoos on the arms of my friends’ parents.  When you are Jewish, there is always the realization that no matter who you are, what you believe or what you’ve done, if you had been born in the wrong place at the wrong time, you would have been swept away.  And oppression is not exclusive to Jews.  The Jewish experience teaches us that we all are vulnerable, and if, by the roll of the dice we wind up in the minority when the majority chooses cynicism over compassion, blindness over enlightenment, hate over love, we all can be subject to persecution.

It has been a joy to participate in such a rich project and I want to thank Wes Cecil for giving me the opportunity.  Thank you to the wonderful musicians: Signe Crawford, Mary Moon, Marlene Moore, and Hayden Pomeroy who not only played beautifully, but your attitude and work ethic made you a joy to make music with.  Thank you to George Rezendes for recommending me for the part and for getting such a beautiful sound.  Always thank you to Anna, my wife and best friend.  And thank you to Mom, Dad, Grandpa Sol, Grandma Lillian, Grandpa Max, and Grandma Margarita--you were all with me in this music.

Paul Chasman
August 2010

Old School, by Paul Chasman and the "Great Gatleys"


Accompanied by Dan and Laurie Gatley on bass and vocals, Paul Chasman returns with 11 new original tunes that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you think. With his trademark sparkling guitar at the forefront, Paul’s poetic lyrics contrast life and mortality; grief and celebration; and light that penetrates the dark.