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Dolores Claiborne: Composer's Personal Edition
--A look at Danny Elfman's rare promotional disc featuring multiple sound files--
--By Ryan Keaveney with special thanks to John Mullin--


After spending so much time evolving the surreal cinematic style of DOLORES CLAIBORNE, the choice of composer seemed all the more critical to director Taylor Hackford: "I'm a great admirer of contemporary Eastern European composers Arvo Part and Alfred Schnittke, and sought the mysterious spiritual quality in their music. I love Danny Elfman's work, although I hadn't heard anything he'd done that fit the musical genre I wanted for the movie. However he's such a distinctive talent, I thought I'd ask him to see the film and decide whether it spoke to him.

To my delight, he responded passionately to the images and performances. Moreover, he surprised me by declaring that he counts the great Russian and Eastern European composers like Bartok and Prokofiev among his greatest influences. With this common link, Danny and I were able to communicate musically to create a complex, bittersweet sound that characterizes Dolores' own richly courageous humanity."

Over the course of several weeks, Hackford met with Elfman at the composer's Topanga Canyon studio, where he sketched out complicated orchestral arrangements on his computer. Unfortunately, the process was interrupted by February's disastrous California rains, which left Elfman's state-of-the-art studio under three feet of mud. "To his great credit, Danny managed to move, immediately establish a new studio and deliver a vivid score with great expressive style," says Hackford. As the director watched from the sound booth, Elfman recorded over 100 minutes of music with a 90-piece orchestra, ultimately rounding out Hackford's vision of "DOLORES CLAIBORNE." [www.castle-rock.com]

As Danny Elfman wrote in the liner notes to MFADT2, DOLORES CLAIBORNE required almost wall to wall scoring - constant music. So when the Varese Sarabande release of his rapturously gloomy score hit stores, it was a bit of a disappointment. It represented less than one fourth the film's total score, hampered by AFM orchestra re-use fees.

I had never heard of the 'Composer's Personal Edition' before, until someone mentioned it in rec.music.artists.danny-elfman. I knew then that I had to hear it. DOLORES CLAIBORNE ranks third on my personal favorites list of Danny's film scores (first being BATMAN, then EDWARD SCISSORHANDS). It is a completely emotionally tiring work - even as a 30 minute album. Imagine the effect that 60 plus minutes has on the psychology of it's listener!

Added cues include "Intro", a high paced track which smoothes out the transition between the OST's opening track and "Vera's World" (track three on the promo CD). Listening to these unheard cues sparks an odd feeling for me - this is music I've somehow been familiar with for three years, but music I've never heard before. Most of the additional tracks add a sinister flavor that seems to exist on the OST version only in the later track "Eclipse". Most are comprised largely by the scratching strings and multilayered effects of harp and woodwinds.

Portions of "Ouch" can be heard in the OST's "End Credits". "All F@cked Up" (expletive changed for the tykes) features the theme prominently stated and "Nag, Nag, Nag..." begins with some familiar Elfmanish pizzicatti.




Dolores Claiborne
Motion Picture Soundtrack,
Composer's Personal Edition
Dead Husband Records
Music By Danny Elfman
Orchestrations By Steve Bartek
Additional Orchestrations By
Edgardo Simone
Conducted By Richard Stone
Recorded By Bobby Fernandez
Mixed By Shawn Murphy
Music Editor: Curt Sobel
The Boss: Taylor Hackford
Dedicated To: David Kraft


1. Main Titles (2:50)
2. Intro (3:48)
3. Vera's World (3:55)
4. 1st Flashback (1:56)
5. Better Times (2:53)
6. Ouch! (2:21)
7. Getting Even (1:53)
8. All F@cked Up (3:20)
9. Nag, Nag, Nag.. (1:08)
10. The Will (3:15)
11. Vera's Death (3:08)
12. The Ferry Ride (1:08)
13. The Old Well (4:46)
14. "They Die" (2:14)
15. Bad Dad!!! (3:55)
16. The Eclipse (9:17)
17. The Inquest/Finale (6:17)
18. End Credits (5:18)
Total Time: 63:24


I don't know much about the history of the release, but I have been told that around 40 copies were originally pressed (mine is a CD-R) and that most copies are in fact CD-R's - therefore the value of an original copy is very high. This album remains as one of only two promotional CDs that I know of from Danny Elfman - the other being GOOD WILL HUNTING. The artwork (see examples below) is from the OST release, but with a few alterations courtesy of Danny Elfman. He's inserted himself into the inside sleeve and back insert. Fans of this score should not be without a copy of it's extended version. Get it at any cost!

Cover Cover Back Cover


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[This page updated: 06/10/2001]
All original text 2001, original artwork Ryan Keaveney & Klaatu Media 2001.
All other materials are by original authors / artists / labels and are
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