Paul Giovanni (1933-1990) - writer and composer

Paul Giovanni - singing Gently Johnny in The Wicker Man Paul Giovanni was an American musician, composer and playwright. Little seems to be known about him, but we have pieced together a brief list of his known works below. As a playwright he wrote "The Crucifer of Blood" in 1978, a Sherlock Holmes story which was later turned into a movie for TV in 1991 shortly after Giovanni's death. However, earlier in his career his focus was music rather than writing. In the 1960s Giovanni had worked on music for theatre productions, notably a production of "Twelfth Night" with an experimental folk-rock score, and "Viet Rock" a political theatre piece. He then joined forces with Greg Kreutz to found a folk-rock group called Sideshow, touring with the group for a few years and recording the album "Side Show". Giovanni is also known to have composed a musical "Shot Through The Heart" though this has not been staged yet. By far, the one thing for which he is best known is the soundtrack to The Wicker Man directed by Robin Hardy and written by Anthony Shaffer. Paul Giovanni's name will go down in history for his perfectly crafted music to this cult film.

Paul Giovanni - The Wicker Man soundtrack (original) CD cover The Wicker Man soundtrack consists of a substantial number of songs and some incidental music. For the song lyrics Giovanni adapted (with some help from Peter Shaffer, Anthony Shaffer's brother) a mixture of folk songs such as Sumer Is Icumen In, some existing pagan verses, and some ballads by the poet Robert Burns (for example "Rigs O' Barley" becomes "Corn Rigs"). In keeping with the setting established in the film, the music was broadly folk or celtic in style using traditional instruments. Some of the melodies are traditional folk ones (you may recognise nursery rhymes Baa Baa Black Sheep and Oranges and Lemons), and some written in related folk styles. Several songs are key to the movie's plot and are sung on screen by members of the cast, so in this respect Giovanni acted as Musical Director, ably assisted by his Assistant Musical Director Gary Carpenter. Carpenter belonged to a folk group, and this was augmented by other players and singers to record the film soundtrack, and the new group was called "Magnet" for the film's credits. The Magnet musicians are sometimes seen performing on screen, and Giovanni himself can be heard on the soundtrack and is seen singing towards the end of the movie. The aim of course is to suggest pagan rituals, with fertility and harvest metaphors, and the impact is decidedly eerie and unsettling.

See our review of The Wicker Man soundtrack for more about the unique music for this unique film. There are futher details about the film's music at Gary Carpenter's website at www.GaryCarpenter.net. The highly informative website at www.WickerMan.com seems to no longer exist but a site publicising the Wicker Man Sheet Music is at www.TheWickerManMusic.com. Paul Giovanni's ambition was to write a successful musical. Though not generally considered as a musical, "The Wicker Man" has sufficient integral song content that the composer came very close to realising that ambition.

Films by Paul Giovanni:

Other Work by Paul Giovanni


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