Lonesome Dove Theme: A story of friendship and love written in music by Basil Poledouris

I am not a fan of Basil Poledouris. Much of his music sounds the same with sweeping themes, grand entrances and quiet interludes. That’s what he writes and he does it well with with poetry…but he writes it too often.

However, if you have to listen to Poledouris you can do a lot worse than the “Lonesome Dove Theme”. This mini-series has a big reputation among western genre circles and much of it deserved. It’s not a perfect series, but it’s very, very good. Two things make the series stand out: the extraordinary on-screen chemistry between Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, and the superb music which frames the story of friendship and love between two old cowboys.


Dialog with Story: Care and Feeding of Your Story

Story: Feed me.

Me: What?

Story: Feed me.

Me: What are you on about?

Story: You’re not feeding me properly.

Me: You could be a little more specific.

Story: May fault. I forgot I was talking to someone who needed it spelled out in detail. You’re not feeding me. Not only do I need to be written, I also need to be fed.

Me: This writing thing gets more complex all the time.

Story: Not really. You just forgot a basic principle. When you write a story you always need to be aware of all the crystal balls that you have to juggle at the same time. Writing the story is the foundation. You also have to feed the story. That means keep in mind all the hundred other little elements that go into making a story come alive. Putting that creative energy into the story will keep the story from starving. It’s a subtle but important element to writing.

Me: So how do I do that?

Story: By giving me more of yourself. You’re too distant from me right now. Yes, I am being written, but there’s no emotion in me. I’m not getting the emotional power I need from you.

Me: I’m not sure I know how to write that.

Story: It’s not so much writing it per se as it is letting yourself open up and allowing yourself to be true to the story. Don’t be afraid to hide yourself behind the story. I’m already part of you. Don’t keep parts of yourself back. I need the full psychic energy and creative power to bloom.

Me: That sounds easy.

Story: You have to be careful, though. If you go too far that’s how stories get overwritten. A writer pours too much detail and energy into the story and it becomes top heavy. Writing a story is a lot like being in a batter’s box. You know the technique and what pitch to look for, but when you’re in the pipeline no matter that kind of curve comes your way you will be able to hit it out of the park. Golf is another excellent analogy. You have to master aspects of technique, I’m not downgrading that, but you also have to be able to tap into that deep chamber of creativity that is inside every writer, every artist.

Me: I think I can do that.

Story: I know you can because you’re human. Creativity is a sole human activity. It’s what sets you apart from everything else in the universe.

Me: Like this?

Story: Much better. You are now giving me more of yourself, but still being mindful not to overwrite. Feed me.

Me: Wait. I thought you said I was doing it right.

Story: You are. But it’s lunch time and I’m hungry. I was thinking about a cheeseburger.

Me: With onions?

Story: Now you’re talking. And writing.

Always remember to feed the story so it doesn't starve from lack of creative energy.

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