A Golden Era – Part 8: Top 75 Murray Gold Tracks (9-1)
David Selby concludes his countdown looking at the very best of Murray Gold’s music.
Catch-up on other articles in this series:
- A Golden Era – Part 1
- A Golden Era – Part 2
- A Golden Era – Part 3
- A Golden Era – Part 4
- A Golden Era – Part 5
- A Golden Era – Part 6
- A Golden Era – Part 7
And so we’re into the Top Ten now. Ten of the best, most melodious and lyrical pieces of music ever composed.
I think, in some way, all of these tracks are worthy of the first place, and for the duration of these articles, I’ve been switching around the winner until I’ve found one I’m completely happy with. It’s been one of the hardest lists I’ve ever written, but here goes the Top Nine:
9. Four Knocks
Probably Murray Gold’s most tragic, heart-breaking song, it reflects perfectly the feeling of defeat at the end of Tennant’s swansong. Whatever you think of the titular scene, you can’t refute the fact that this is one utterly tear-jerking composition.
Christopher Eccleston’s regeneration music (which, along with Vale Decem, now sits beside 1969/Apollo 11), Hologram is stunning and inimitable. Although it has blue elements, it’s fundamentally an optimistic, magical tune which looks to the future as much as the past.
7. With Love, Vincent
I love Vincent and the Doctor. To me, it’s probably the most realistically beautiful episode of the past fifty years, because a fair bit of it really happened. Vincent Van Gogh saw the world in a completely different way to the rest of us, and that was, I felt, really captured by Richard Curtis… and Murray Gold. Gold encapsulated the pathos and wonder of Van Gogh’s life – and for that, the man deserves a medal.
There was a point where this sat firmly in first place, but it got moved back slightly to make way for the below.
Gridlock, other than Utopia, is set further in the future than any Doctor Who story that I’ve seen. When you consider that something is billions of years in the future, I think it’s quite a breath-taking thing. So, for that reason, I’ve always found Gridlock a ‘magical’ story – and the years are especially apparent because of the Face of Boe – or Captain Jack Harkness – or ‘Barrowman’ – who finally meets his end. He’s seen the universe grow, he’s seen the good and bad and the impossible, and this song does that weighty premise complete justice. It’s very moving, but you realise that the Face of Boe’s death isn’t a sad moment – it’s a celebration of an impossible life.
5. Abigail’s Song
I’m glad to this day that Doctor Who acquired the rare and fascinating talent of Katherine Jenkins for one of its best stories. This is Doctor Who doing opera – it’s Doctor Who doing Christmas music, and it’s Doctor Who doing hymn. It’s pretty much every musical word that I haven’t used yet, actually. In the coming month, I’ll be playing this one a lot.
4. Together or Not At All (The Song of Amy and Rory)
There’s no such thing as extremity in Amy and Rory’s (arguably agape) love, is there? I’ve always found it quite astonishing how Amy chose to die with Rory rather than live without him – it’s not just a mildly poetic gesture, it’s something that genuinely moves me, making the rooftop scene my joint favourite Doctor Who scene ever. It’s helped by an enchanting score that, as I’ve said before, though with poignant elements, feels like something happy, because it is – it’s Amy finally reaffirming where her heart lies, and taking the ultimate step to a divine kind of love. Go for it, Pond.
3. This is Gallifrey (Our Childhood, Our Home)
I bet you all feel cheated that this wasn’t in the first place. Although I considered it, I felt it would be – I daresay – a clichéd choice. I wanted to be inventive.
But that doesn’t stop me from loving it just as much as I ever did. Although the original TV version (unreleased, sadly) is by far the best, it’s still the same tune and deserves to be very high up. The first time we see Gallifrey in the new series is my joint-favourite Doctor Who scene (bet you can’t guess what the other one is), and with this otherworldly score, we’re transported to the celestial land of the Time Lords (I’ve used that sentence a ridiculous number of times now, but it’s true).
2. The Greatest Story Never Told
This one very nearly made it to the first place. It’s always been a particular favourite of mine and one reason (of many) is that it’s just so varied. 00:00-01:48 brings us back to The End of Time, which ominously began with: “On the final days of planet Earth, everyone had bad dreams…” And we can see Wilfred in our minds (as he could see a certain rouge Time Lord in his), out doing his Christmas shopping. Suddenly it’s 1:48, and the Doctor is realising that the visitors to the Library were, quite literally, saved – to a ‘super hard-drive’ at the centre of the planet. And then it’s 2:52, and River is sacrificing herself to save the Doctor who has only just met her. It’s one of my favourite – and one of the most touching – Doctor Who scenes of all time, and a lot of that is thanks to a terrific composition by Murray Gold. Bravo.
1. Song of Freedom
Song of Freedom, as well as being just what it says on the tin (with an uncanny resemblance to The Long Song in both musical and literal theme), is quite an acquired taste. Sometimes it takes several listenings to appreciate it (I’ve heard it called ‘cheesy’ many a time) but after a while, you’ll suddenly wonder why you ever doubted it. It’s one of the cheeriest, most heart-warming, nostalgic songs Murray Gold has ever produced. You also have to listen to it wearing headphones set at a preposterously unsafe volume to truly appreciate its beauty.
It’s funny how it’s beaten This is Gallifrey, something which looked like a clear winner from the start (and something which I’ve previously stated, albeit obliquely, as my favourite). But it’s the only winner, for me, which was perfect this week – a week of celebrations, and this song is, in itself, a celebration. If we hear it in Day of the Doctor, I’ll be over the moon.
Honourable Mention: Song For Fifty
Song For Fifty, Murray Gold’s celebratory piece to mark the anniversary, would have no doubt been included had it not been for a technicality. Exclusively a proms piece, it would have opened all sorts of doors I’d rather keep shut, but had it been from an actual soundtrack, it would have scored very highly.
Honourable Mention: The Ones We Haven’t Got
There is still so much Who music left to recover. The above is a sample from an upcoming unreleased soundtrack album including tracks ranging from Series 1-7. In other cases, tracks have been recovered fully clean in one way or another. With all the lost material out there, we can only hope – as with the lost episodes – that one day, we might just get them back. Because there’s not a Murray Gold track out there that doesn’t deserve to be heard by all who’ll listen.