May 2nd, 2020

mom walk

hunting down the real escape from new york

Something that has been driving me nuts for years is that every time i listen to the Escape From New York theme, it doesn't quite sound like what i remember it sounding like. I bought the soundtrack album in the early 00s. I listened to it over and over. I posted a couple tracks from it last night.

But even all these years later, it still doesn't sound quite right.

At first i thought it might be because the first place i heard the song might have been a computer game. But i checked, and aside from a fan game made by some Commodore 64 enthusiasts in the 90s, there wasn't a game.

Then i thought perhaps i was confusing it for some kind of Prophet 08 synth demo reel. For readers who are not synth nerds: the Prophet-5 was the name of a legendary polyphonic synth of the late 70s and early 80s that was heavily used by John Carpenter. The company that made it went bust in 1987, but the founder made a comeback in the 2000s and built a new and improved version in 2008. And for sure there would have been an Escape From New York patch. Playing John Carpenter on a Prophet synth is like playing... I dunno, like playing Eric Clapton on a Stratocaster.

The new Prophet came too late, though. I had Escape From New York the way i wanted it to sound in my head from before that. I know, because i used to try and get the sound on my own synths, most of which i had sold by 2008.

So i returned to the source.


Escape From New York Opening Credits

And there it is. The soundtrack album that i own is not the same as the original score. The iconic analog synth line with those beautiful soft attacks has been swapped out with an electric piano patch that slowly ebbs into the brassy stabs.

A bit more digging reveals that there was a different official soundtrack that came out before the "remastered" (read: ruined) one that i own. It features another, brighter mix.


John Carpenter - Main Title (1981 Soundtrack)

Oh yes. That glorious Moog-like portamento, front and center where it deserves to be!

Now i have to try and find a high quality (non YouTube) version of this so that i can listen to it on repeat and eclipse the playcount of the impostor tune.

Who ever said going on drunken musical tangents was a waste of time? Today i learned etc etc.