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Harold and Maude OST (featuring music by Cat Stevens) – 2022

This arrived in the mail this week!!

Except for a very, very expensive, limited release a few years back (2007), this has never been made available legitimately (bootlegs don’t count).

There are two gorgeous songs that, for the longest time, were only available in the film. At the time of the movie’s release in 1971, Cat Stevens said he purposely never released them in order to make them special: you had to see the movie if you wanted to hear them (If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out and Don’t be Shy). They were finally released for the first time in 1992 on his “Footsteps in the Dark (AKA Greatest Hits Volume 2)”.

Apparently, the other reason a soundtrack was never released is because (aside from the two above mentioned songs) the eight(!) other Cat Stevens songs on the soundtrack were all from his then-current albums “Mona Bone Jakon” and “Tea For The Tillerman”, and it was thought that releasing the soundtrack would have been confusing, haha!

I suppose from his record company’s point of view, that made a kind of sense. They could suggest to people that they buy both albums instead of just buying the one soundtrack, but it might have made just as much sense to capitalize on the 2 new songs and release the soundtrack. Whatever the case may be, a soundtrack was never officially released at the time of the film’s release, but now they have finally released the full soundtrack properly for the fiftieth anniversary of the film, and they have created an absolutely gorgeous, complete memento of the film.

Now, let’s be honest for a moment. I know these songs like the back of my hand. I have all the original Cat Stevens albums from the 1970s and I also own a gorgeous vinyl pressing of “Footsteps in the Dark” (which I bought specifically to get Don’t be Shy and If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out). So, it was never about buying the soundtrack just to own the songs. It was always about recapturing that place and time, that special something that makes “Harold and Maude” so unique. To have the soundtrack, with all the songs from the film in one place, was something I’d always wanted. The fact that they included snippets of dialogue from the film, and included incidental pieces such as StraussBlue Danube waltz, and Tchaikovsky‘s Concerto No 1 B, wraps the whole package up in a bow and hands it to me like it’s Christmas. Playing this record allows you to experience the entire film from start to finish in just under 40 minutes. So much so that I found myself grinning during all of Side 1, and getting teary-eyed at the end of side 2. (I really am an old softie).

I adore the movie. It’s bizarre and dark, but uplifting and wistful. It always makes me happy… and then sad. It’s a roller coaster. In fact, I watched it again last night before bed…. And as usual I smiled all the way through. Until the end. I adore the beautiful contrast between the effervescent Maude Who celebrates life and lives it to the fullest, and poor Harold who hasn’t learned to live yet (though he has “died a few times”, to use his own words). And, of course, it wouldn’t be “Harold and Maude” if it didn’t throw a curveball at that as well.

Without giving anything away if you haven’t seen it (though… you’ve had 50 years, what are you waiting for?) the ending always breaks my heart and also gives me hope. The soundtrack is put together in such a way that you don’t miss a beat: you go through every up and down, every twist and turn, as the album progresses. It helps that Cat Stevens‘ iconic music is such an integral part of the film, but the addition of the dialogue really propels you along.

The mastering on the soundtrack is also absolutely stunning. I was still able to catch bits and pieces I’d never noticed before. There is a beautiful airiness to some of the tracks (especially Don’t be Shy) and there is a clean sound to other songs (like If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out) that puts my previous copies of the song to shame. The music breathes with freshness, despite being fifty years old this year!

Finally, the packaging itself is absolutely top notch. You can tell that the people who put this project together were fans of the film and/or Cat Stevens. The embossed gatefold sleeve is superb, made of beautiful heavy cardboard, with one sleeve holding the record itself, and the other sleeve holding the gorgeous full-sized colour booklet that contains an essay, pictures, and lyrics. The labels of the vinyl itself are also a really nice touch, with side 1 being a daisy (representing Harold) and side 2 being a Sunflower (representing Maude).

I can’t stress enough how well made this collection is. As always I have included a Spotify playlist for you, and I hope you enjoy! If you have a chance to get yourself a copy, I highly recommend it!

Well.. that’s it from Birdienumnums HQ for now! See you next time!

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