B12 Solipsism

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Sometimes a Great Notion

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ooh, I’d like to hear this entire track, as discussed previously. Fun version of a familiar song…

In the next act, Anders wanders through the ruins and finds a broken guitar neck, which brings back memories of “All Along the Watchtower.” The score sneaks in with ambient strains of harmonium, tabla and electric sitar, recalling my “Watchtower” arrangement. This is the same sonic texture that underscored the Chief’s walk along the ruins, leading up to his memories of being in a marketplace on Earth.

However, the musical idea is taken a step farther here, as Anders remembers specific lyrics and recites them to himself. At this moment, the signature acoustic guitar riff that opens my arrangement of “Watchtower” enters, and you will also hear the distain vocal refrain of a new Brendan “Bt4” McCreary vocal performance.

Even though you’ll only catch a couple lines in the show, we actually recorded a complete performance of “All Along the Watchtower” for this episode, complete with all three verses, set in this trippy, ambient style. Perhaps it’ll end up on a soundtrack album one day? :)

[Click to read more [spoiler alert!] Bear’s Battlestar Blog » Blog Archive » BG4: “Sometimes a Great Notion”]

Wonder why the episode is titled after the Ken Kesey novel? Been years since I read it, but I recall it being a Cain/Abel tale, set in the Pacific north woods. Am I wrong?


“Sometimes a Great Notion (Penguin Classics)” (Ken Kesey)

Hmm, maybe not. From the Wikipedia entry:

The story centers on the Stamper family, a hard-headed logging clan in the fictional town of Wakonda, Oregon. The union loggers in the town of Wakonda go on strike in demand of the same pay for shorter hours, in response to the decreasing need for labor due to the introduction of the chainsaw. However, the Stamper family, which owns its own non-union family company, decides not only to keep working but also to supply the regional mill with all the lumber the town would have supplied had it not been on strike. This decision, and the surrounding details of the decision, are deeply explored in this multilayered historical background and relationship study — especially in its examination of the following characters: Henry Stamper, the old and half-crazed patriarch whose motto “Never Give A Inch!” has defined the nature of the family and its dynamic with the town; Hank, the oldest son of Henry whose strong will and personality make him a leader but his subtle insecurities and desires threaten the stability of his family; Leland, the younger son of Henry and half brother of Hank, whose constant weaknesses and the nature of his intellect led him away from the family to the East Coast, but whose eccentric behavior and want for revenge against Hank lead him back to Oregon; and Viv, whose love for her husband Hank fades quickly when she realizes he no longer wanted or needed her. The family house itself manifests the physical stubbornness of the Stamper family; as the nearby river widens slowly, all the other houses on the river have either been consumed by the waters or moved away from the current, except the Stamper house, which stands on a precious peninsula struggling to maintain every inch of land with the help of an arsenal of boards, sand bags, cables, and other miscellaneous items brandished by Henry Stamper in his fight against the encroaching river.

and from Bear McCreary:

“Sometimes I live in the country, sometimes I live in the town. Sometimes I get a great notion, to jump in the river and drown.” From Ken Kesey’s novel “Sometimes a Great Notion”


addendum, the above link, a blog post by the musical director of BSG, is fascinating. I’ll admit I don’t pay close enough attention to orchestral scores, but obviously the music and themes are extremely important to building mood. I almost want to see this episode again after reading such nuanced description of the process and intent of scoring BSG.

Written by Seth Anderson

January 17th, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Posted in Suggestions

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