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THE MUSIC OF BEING HUMAN: GILBERT FUN

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Garret Keogh, Online Editor | 19:29 UK time, Tuesday, 17 February 2009

 

gilbert2.jpg

New to BH? Watch out, this post contains spoilers from series one...

 

In this latest look at the music that makes Being Human special, Alex Pillai, director of episodes 3 & 4, tells us how he and his team created the unique sound of 'Gilbert Fun'.  Over to you Alex...

 

 

In the character of Gilbert (Alex Price) I was given a gift to direct - anyone who lived through the 80's will recognise him immediately as the kind of opinionated, politicised, music-fascist who could bring a party down with his morbid self-absorption. 

 

His character is stuck in time, arrested in his emotional development, and stuck on the tunes of era in which he died.  Like a record stuck in a groove, he has to move on - and it isn't until he discovers the ability to love that he is finally released from his limbo here on Earth.

 

But Gilbert is no simple 80's wraith - he is from Manchester, the home of the new wave that was kick-started by the appearance of The Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall on June 4th 1976. Musically, Gilbert carries The Smiths  with him as if he has just walked out of the Salford Lads Club into the 'Winter of Discontent'

 

The track 'Girlfriend in a Coma'is quintessential Smiths - miserable, deep, and charming.  It naturally had to be played as Gilbert walks Annie back to the house in the rain after their first date.  It's not a romantic song, and yet is so bursting with love that it expresses Gilbert's painful emotional state.  Initially this scene had some dialogue on it, but as soon as the music went on, out came the dialogue.

 

Music by Marc Almond was also a natural choice for this episode and Marc and the Mambas'  'In My Room' has that wonderful self-absorption that could have only been taken seriously back in the 80's.  Alex Price was so good at improvising bizarre dance moves to the louche keyboard playing and lyrics of his music.  Thus 'Torch', by Almond's band Soft Cell, drives George mad with frustration when he is trying to prepare a dinner for Nina, and Gilbert is gyrating like a loon to it in the background. At the 80's night disco - the opening track is 'Tainted Love' as George, Mitchell and Annie stagger into the club

 

With such a preponderance of music from Gilbert's ghostly 'Walkman', and a composed soundtrack by Richard Wells, I decided that any contemporary music would be discordant, and so myself, the editor Paul Endacott, and producer Matt Bouch, decided to find tracks from Gilbert's era to evince the mood of the story.

 

Thus we have "Ghost Town" by The Specials as Gilbert is walking to the house, bringing with it a whiff Jerry Dammers' original meaning - a mournful hymn to a landscape of closed factories and mass unemployment from the early 80's.  The link with The Specials is continued with the used of "Tunnel of Love", from the band made of ex-Specials, Fun Boy Three, as Gilbert demonstrates to Annie the dubious meaning of "Gilbert fun".

 

To accompany this virtual compilation album of 'Hits of the 80's', our composer Richard Wells had to weave his own music - carrying through an emotional theme that comes to its heart-breaking climax when Gilbert passes through the door to his Death. 

 

The only non-80's track in here is a song to accompany the montage of Annie helping Owen around the house.  I had always envisaged this as having a soft and gentle track, and 'Little Garcon' by Canadian Indie band Born Ruffians absolutely captures the wistful tone with which Annie follows Owen around like a lost puppy.  .

 

The episode is strangely lopsided in its use of music tracks form the 80's - as the story becomes more serious, and Gilbert's emotional attachment to Annie grows, the ghostly echoes of his 'Walkman' die away, and the music of Richard Wells takes over - taking us into the dark place where Owen killed Annie, and the end of Gilbert's journey.  By discovering that he loves Annie, Gilbert's needle has been jogged out its groove, and he can finally move on.

 

Episode 3

Track & Artist

'Tainted Love' - Soft Cell

'High Tension Line' - The Fall

'A Promise' - Echo and the Bunnymen

'Girlfriend in a Coma' - The Smiths

'Ghost Town' - The Specials

'In My Room' - Marc and the Mambas

'The Tunnel of Love' - Fun Boy Three

'Little Garcon' - Born Ruffians

'Love will tear us apart' - Joy Division

'Torch' - Soft Cell

'A Promise' - Echo and the Bunnymen

'Reward' - The Teardrop Explodes

 

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Defenatly one of the things I love about this show is the contemperary music and the way its used to enhance the emotions that the characters are feeling. thanks for telling us the thought process that goes into deciding how to create the best music FX
    Richard Welles music at the end was so beutifully done you could feel the distress that the characters were feeling and the emotional journey annie & gilbert had been on

  • Comment number 2.

    Hey, I bought a new CD and I found a few songs that reminded me of the show. I'm not sure if you're still open to song suggestions . . . the first season of episodes have probably already been filmed, but if you guys end up continuing the series, you might want to consider using these songs:

    1. "Honey" by the Hush Sound. I thought it would suit Mitchell because of the lines "You're the death of me" and "You've got a dark heart, you've got a cold kiss." It's a fun, upbeat song.

    2. "Hospital Bed Crawl" by the Hush Sound. It features the lines "And he likes the taste of blood, and he loves the way you love." That would also be a Mitchell song, I think.

    3. "Molasses" by the Hush Sound features the lines "Say there's something better but today, there is a cold moon rising
    And you wanted something better
    But tonight, tonight you're giving up ." I thought it would be a good George song.

    Sorry about the long post.

  • Comment number 3.

    Does anyone else think supergrass's St petersberg should be a perminent opening theme?

  • Comment number 4.

    I agree :-) i loved what i thought was the theme tune lol then realised it wasnt just the opening song. its a good tune but i suppose its not always mood appropriate especially as it looks as though the shows going to be getting darker. Any chance of a list for episode 4? does anyone know what the song is at the end when Mitchell goes back to herrick? we only heard a few seconds but it sounds good...

  • Comment number 5.

    As I am hoping for a CD to come out sooner or later I don't want to buy all these songs one at a time so... I have Just open an account with Spotify and made a Being Human playlist and now it is playing on near continuous while I am working... thanks! Can't wait for the names of the tracks for ep. 4 to add them!

    PS: do go and check out www.spotify.com it is a bit like itune, you just can't download the songs but then again it is free to use ... :-)

  • Comment number 6.

    i agree with eagle_eyes4. That song at the end of Episode 4 is really good. Does anyone know what it is? or when the bbc will put up the song list? Being human is the best thing on now! Thanks

  • Comment number 7.

    can anybody please tell me what the name of the drum 'n' bass tune used on the trailer is, i will be eternally grateful.

  • Comment number 8.

    I agree I think Supergrass's St. Petersburg should be the permanent theme tune.

  • Comment number 9.

    "My Time (Has Come)" by The Twilight Singers is the one that invariably occurs to me, although it would be a bit premature before the series, or season, finale. "Defrocked" by Harvey Danger would not be half-bad, either.

  • Comment number 10.

    I really enjoyed hearing the 80's music again. For all the teasing the 80's takes, there were some really original artists and sounds around then. Really, really enjoyed this episode, and Alex Price was brilliant. I was very sorry to see him go.

  • Comment number 11.

    This was my favourite episode so far, Gilbert was such a great character. The music choices were spot on.

  • Comment number 12.

    Ah yes, this program has a lot to answer for, and so does Gilbert. Namely that 'This Charming Man' has me hooked on all things Smiths-ish. Now, there I have undying love for it like a light which never goes out. (Ok, so the puns are terrible).
    Great Episode

  • Comment number 13.

    This has to be my favourite episode so far....Gilbert is a wonderful character, its a real pity we wont see him again.....or could we.??? there always sems to be a way to get round things....come on Toby...get writing.!! Im off to dust off my Soft cell singles.....loved the music, many thanks for compiling the list...

  • Comment number 14.

    Aaah Gilbert is such fun. I love this episode mainly because the "reveal" about nasty old Owen and what he did to Annie BUT as an 80's girl it's great to have a soundtrack with Echo and the Bunneymen and The Teardrop Explodes on it !!. And yes I am so sad that when Gilbert name checked Marc and the Mambas I ran to my LP collection especially to show my boyfriend my copy of the Mambas LP...well it was in a gatefold sleeve!!!. I do also have an extensive collection of Bunnymen 12" singles but none of them are Japanese imports...Gilbert would be disappointed.

  • Comment number 15.

    Yes, this was definately my favourite episode of them all so.... can Gilbert come back? Please, pretty please? (P.S Toby, if you manage to write that into a series 3 plot, then I will bake you a cake. Promise. It might not reach you, but it will still exist.)

  • Comment number 16.

    Oh, I so loved Gilbert. I was a student in the late eighties and we were just like that. The bit where he was dancing about with the twig was fantastic. Of course Annie must have been born round about the time Gilbert died. Would have loved to have heard more reaction from Annie to the eighties culture apart from the fact she hated the music and looked bored a lot of the time!

 

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