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Driving Miss Daisy
Composed, Arranged, Performed, and Produced by:
Hans Zimmer

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
December 12th, 1989

Also See:
Fried Green Tomatoes
Love Field

Audio Clips:
3. Driving (0:34):
WMA (222K)  MP3 (284K)
Real Audio (199K)

4. Home (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

5. Georgia (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

6. End Titles (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release.

  Nominated for a Grammy Award.

Driving Miss Daisy
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Used Price: $4.82

Sales Rank: 110289

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Buy it... if you seek ultimate proof that Hans Zimmer can uncork whimsically breezy and setting-appropriate music of immense personality and style with only his one-man electronic ensemble.

Avoid it... if you quickly tire of Zimmer's rhythmic light drama and romance music of this era in his career, because Driving Miss Daisy is simply a bluesy variation on those early trademarks of the composer's work.

Driving Miss Daisy: (Hans Zimmer) The surprise hit of late 1989 and early 1990 was Bruce Beresford's Driving Miss Daisy, one of the most highly acclaimed adaptations of an off-Broadway play to ever hit the big screen. Morgan Freeman reprised his role from the play and was joined by Jessica Tandy and Dan Aykroyd to form a cast that, along with the film, swept through many of the major awards that year. Most of that recognition came because of the production's ability to remain light-hearted in its character interactions (and PG rating) while also making comments about prejudices against blacks and Jews in America's state of Georgia prior to the civil rights movement. Too old to drive herself around the 1940's countryside, a feisty widow (Tandy) is provided a driver (Freemen) by her son (Aykroyd) and, despite their differences, the woman and her chauffeur become close friends. That bond spans more than two decades and several events that defy racial and religious prejudices of the era, and the film concludes on an incredibly sweet and positive note. The small production, with the help of its immense critical acclaim and awards wins, went on to gross almost twenty times its budget. It was the second year in a row in which rising composer Hans Zimmer had scored the top Oscar-winning picture, though his music for Driving Miss Daisy, despite making an impact in the picture, only received a Grammy nomination. Given the film's slim budget, it's no surprise that the soundtrack was reportedly entirely synthetic, featuring no live instruments in the mix. But what definitely is a surprise, and has always been when listening to this score, is the fact that Zimmer managed to produce so much personality and style from his electronic ensemble for Driving Miss Daisy. The amount of genuine flavor in the solo performances of melody in the work is symbolic of the best of Zimmer's early creativity. This music has all the bluesy and/or jazzy sensibilities of similar passages in Thomas Newman's Fried Green Tomatoes and Jerry Goldsmith's Love Field, but without the benefit of acoustic instrumentation. There is a whimsical, breezy aspect to the score that gives it an undeniably easy flow, too. When you hear about long-time collectors of Zimmer's music complaining about how lifeless the composer's eventual blockbuster mannerisms sound (despite the improvement in synthesizer and sample technologies), scores like Driving Miss Daisy remain the benchmark by which those comparisons are drawn.

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Although the rhythmic movement and general tone of the keyboarded string and piano samples in Driving Miss Daisy are very familiar to Zimmer's other efforts at the time, he infuses a healthy dose of Southern character in his choice of samples and the progressions they play. Outside of the composer's standard light drama elements (a staple of his early romantic comedies), there exist emulated banjos, honky tonk piano, tapped percussion, saxophone, and clarinet to freshen up the atmosphere. The clarinet is of particular intrigue, because its application to one of the score's two themes (the famous one of pizzazz) is extremely convincing. At no time does Zimmer's electronic approach ever sound inappropriate for this context, further testimony that the right kind of synthetic handling can work in the setting of nearly any story. The two themes that meander throughout Driving Miss Daisy and occupy the majority of its time are each quite effective. The aforementioned primary idea of considerable zip features all the jaunty enthusiasm that Tandy's character brings to the film. Its memorable bluesy progressions represent the South in a spirit of bright sunshine rarely heard from an industry cynical about the region's politics. Every time you hear the faux clarinet perform this theme, it's surprising to fathom that it may not be acoustic; performances of the theme in Zimmer's later concert presentations do utilize the real thing. The secondary theme for Driving Miss Daisy alternates with the previous one several times in "Driving" and actually receives much more airtime. It completely supplants the other theme in "Home" and "Georgia" and brings genuine affection into the relationship between the two leads, eventually twisted into the score's only challenging rendition of any idea in the latter cue's conclusion. Some listeners may find the simple, wholesome tone (and progressions) of this secondary theme to be similar to Randy Edelman's style of the 90's. The entire score is about as innocuous as one could imagine, only building to any significant level of depth in the latter half of "End Titles." In that summary cue, light rock loops and the score's only appreciable use of counterpoint (in the form of synth strings) beef up the two themes. The detractions in the music for Driving Miss Daisy aren't substantial, but they will bother some listeners. First, the score runs under 25 minutes on album and is joined by good, but incongruous source pieces heard in the film. The dissonant passage at the end of "Georgia" and a similarity in the tone of the keyboarding to both Edelman's and Vangelis' work may be a nagging distraction for some. At the end of the day, though, you can't help but get a smile on your face when that infectious clarinet theme breaks loose. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Hans Zimmer reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 2.98 (in 89 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3 (in 266,342 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.31 Stars
Smart Average: 3.25 Stars*
***** 38 
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    * Smart Average only includes
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 35:57

• 1. Kiss of Fire - performed by Louis Armstrong (3:04)
• 2. Santa Baby - performed by Eartha Kitt (2:23)
• 3. Driving (6:50)
• 4. Home (3:23)
• 5. Georgia (7:55)
• 6. End Titles (4:51)
• 7. Song to the Moon (Excerpt from the Opera Rusalka) - composed by Antonin Dvorak (6:05)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Driving Miss Daisy are Copyright © 1989, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 3/17/10 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2010-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.