James Horner – Glory: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: #814 of best 1,000 albums ever!

James Horner - Glory - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Why is Glory: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

It’s a time machine to a little study lounge near the back of Johnson Hall at Binghamton University.

What does Glory: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

Glory the movie is a terrific film from 1989, with a stellar cast that includes Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, and Cary Elwes. It’s an unusual movie in some ways and one that would likely be made into a prestige TV drama in the streaming era (a la the brilliant, moving, and at times disturbing The Underground Railroad on Amazon Prime).

A guy on YouTube describes Glory as “a rousing film about the American Civil War, which, in addition to its fantastic show values and actors, also tells a haunting and true story about equality, pride and self-determination,” with Broderick playing Col. Robert Gould Shaw, a white Union officer who leads a company of Black soldiers during the U.S. Civil War.

Glory the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack somehow came into my possession on cassette tape, and listening to it now immediately transports me back to my sophomore year of college. I know this because the soundtrack’s alternatively soothing and militaristic, rousing sounds got me through a torrent of study sessions at the end of my fall semester that year.

I’ve talked before about how music can sometimes take you back to a specific time and place in your life. With the Glory soundtrack, there’s something visceral about it that’s as close to time travel as I’ll ever get. I can picture the little study lounge near the back of Johnson Hall at Binghamton University. I’m pretty sure the carpet was the color red and there were these little study kiosks that you could use.

Since it was the winter in upstate New York, it was plenty cold outside, and while most of the dorm was typically hot to too hot throughout the winter, that little study lounge was cool, almost chilly. Better for staying awake to study, perhaps. And maybe that was also a reason why I chose this quiet, cozy lounge rather than the larger and inevitably noisier one near the main entrance to the dorm. That study lounge was also more social, but this was a time period when I was fairly studious, diving into modern European history (which, turns out, is pretty important to understand these days) and Shakespeare and other humanities topics.

Typically, I’ll call out specific tracks and talk about why I particularly dig them or provide other ruminative asides, but in this case I invite you to simply listen to the entire Glory soundtrack, perhaps while you’re working on something where you need to focus. It’s music that’s both exciting and calming at the same time, and makes me feel emotional when I listen to it to this day.

Personal stuff that has something to do with Glory: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Glory was directed by Edward Zwick, who I met a few times while working for a digital agency in Los Angeles in the mid-2000s. I worked closely with Ed’s business and creative partner, Marshall Herskovitz, on an ambitious website associated with a television show called quarterlife. Ed Zwick seemed to me to be bright and wildly creative. The quarterlife.com project was a tremendously challenging one, though one that I’m proud of in terms of the effort I gave and what we were able to accomplish as a digital team.

quarterlife the TV show, though in theory aimed to be a web-based show (this pre-dated the streaming era by a number of years), had its sights set on broadcast television. Those ambitions were short-lived as quarterlife drew, at the time, NBC’s “worst ratings for its time slow in at least 20 years.”

As for Herskovitz, my mother told me more than once that if I don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything. Sometimes I listen.

Some stats & info about Glory: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Classical Music, Movie Soundtracks
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating2 out of 5 stars (??)
  • When was Glory: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack released?
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #814 out of 1,000

James Horner’s Glory: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on YouTube

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.