Driving Miss Daisy seems to be one of those films that everyone has heard of and if you play the music, seems to like it a lot. I had a bash at playing Hans Zimmer's main theme on the piano and my sister and mother both identified it or at least recognised and had a glimmer of recognition when I told them what it was from. This early (ish) work by Zimmer is a huge leap away from his thundering synthy action efforts. On the other hand, it is entirely synthesised and on occasion sounds it, but it is not a great deal worse off for having been performed digitally. The main theme is a bluesy descending clarinet motif that neatly encapsulates the Deep South of America. A secondary piano motif is more of a ragtime (albeit rather slow and slightly melancholy) style, but both compliment each other well. Both motifs are introduced in the first of Zimmer's cues and form the basis for the large bulk of the score. The (synth) ensemble is generally small with strings, clarinet, piano, a tick-tock percussion motif along with the occasional sax or
Zimmer's music is generally very intimate, heartfelt and never oversteps the boundries of melodrama although there are sections such as the opening of Georgia which features a fun country and western style guitar riff. On the other hand, the final section of that cue is quite dissonent and is as dramatic as some of the best music that John Williams wrote for his similarly styled (albeit acoustic) score to Rosewood. One can't help feeling that it seems a lot more inventive than a lot of his action scores, while still having a few ideas in common. Despite being synthesised (and thus costing next to nothing to release), only 23 minutes of Zimmer's score appears on the album. I could carp about piteous playing times, but to be honest I don't think I'd want a great deal more than what their is. Perhaps an extra track would have been nice to push it to the half hour, but anything more and it would certainly have outstayed its welcome. The selection, which forms more of an extended suite seems just perfect, with the End Titles reprising the major motifs and transforming them into a rousing, jazzy, piano heavy conclusion.
The first couple of tracks are songs that no doubt many older people will recognise, but they mean nothing to me. The final cue by Dvorak is lovely and beautifully sung. I would suggest that it rather overshadow's Zimmer's music a bit more than would be ideal; featuring a full operatic/orchestral cue in a rather more intimate score performed without acoustic instruments makes Zimmer's achievement seem less good than it actually is. Ah well, that's just one of those things I supppose. All in all this is a lovely score that should be heard by Zimmer fans just to demonstrate that Zimmer is a dramatic composer of considerable talent. It should also be heard by those who (like me) doubt that synth scores can be effective as it stands alongside Poledouris' lovely score for Wind and James Horner's beautifully mystical Field of Dreams as one of the finest synth scores around. Try to not worry about the short running time and enjoy.
Read other recent reviews by Tom Daish: The Snow Files: The Film Music of Mark Snow
, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad