Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Watchtower :: Bear McCreary

Guest Blogger::
I first heard this song at the tail end of a favorite program of mine, the geek-heavy Battlestar Galactica, which has already become known for its haunting, ethereal and often middle-eastern and Armenian vibes to the musical track, courtesy of producer Bear McCreary, who I'll express more about in a moment.

The song is a far cry from the famous Bob Dylan number, or even the Hendrix riff, which was the version being offered to Ronald Moore (the show's producer) when the lyrics of the song were written into the episode. He told them he wanted this song in the series; but no, he wanted to compose his own cover, and his composer Bear McCreary offered a chilling and beautiful rendition, that is best enjoyed with some kind of hooka pipe nearby and in hand.

The musician named "Brendan McCreary" is actually the vocalist for this song, but his brother Bear McCreary - listed as its artist - is a composer, who's credits are far undersinging of his talents, composed the track for the show. Bear McCreary has been the sole composer for the show.

This song debuted in a final episode (Crossroads, Part II) of Battlestar Galactica's season 3, highlighting some critical story reveals, very stirringly. It was also the first use of any English lyrics whatsoever (though once before, Armenian lyrics were used) in any of the often foreignly accented stylings of Bear's work for the show.

I've been a fan of Bear's for a while - the strange, primarily middle-east tones in some of his music, the sitars playing, struck a chord with me during my deployment in Iraq, and even back, it grants me a strange memory of the songs heard then. Mixing it with such a modern and iconic song really made me catch my breath and I had to find it - and its origins.

Another interesting tidbit:

Bear McCreary, in the production of Battlestar Galactica, has brought back a number of Oingo Boingo alumni into the studio to score the series, as Oingo Boingo (through Composing hero Danny Elfman) was one of his inspirants to fame: Richard Gibbs, Steve Bartek, bassist John Avila, drummer Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez, and keyboarding accordionist Doug Lacey have all contributed, lending towards Bear's own joke of the show's title being renamed "Boingostar Galactica". Through this connection, in 2005, Bear's brother Brendan stood in for Danny Elfman for a Halloween 2005 Oingo Boingo tribute concert, which spanned eventually into Brendan's band.

On this track specifically, Bear utilizes his brother Brendan's vocals, Steve Bartek on guitar and John Avila on bass. Brendan McCreary is listed as the band on the song incorrectly on many of the internet bootlegs of it, under his former band name of "BT4" (which I still find to be a little more interesting).

The first song is the direct music - the second is the direct rip from the show, which I believe possibly has even more power to it, showing the pathos in the characters the music represented, and how it framed the scene; the industrial clanks of the ship also add a certain resonance.

"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
"Businessmen, they drink my wine, plow men dig my earth,
"None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."

"No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke,
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
"But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
"So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance, a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.


All along the watchtower.


Easter Eggs:

First, the Youtube video snippet of this scene it was shown in, if you don't mind spoilers, is equally powerful.

Second. The brother, Brendan's band, is now renamed, awfully, from BT4 to BrEndAn McCreary, but who am I to judge?

Their band, which has an interestingly poppy feeling to it with fascinating lyrical imagery, is worth checking out.

It can be found at with their own EP available @CDBaby and on iTunes.

Brendan McCreary: Vox, Guitars
Steve Bartek: Guitars
Martin Yarbough: Percussion
Carl Sealove: Bass

1 comment:

.:m-e-g-g-o:. said...

wow! i never knew how much thought goes into the music selection of a tv show! great post :)