The Wild Bunch
FSM’s final album is a definitive 3CD presentation of Jerry Fielding’s masterpiece, The Wild Bunch. The scoring of this Sam Peckinpah western was a long and contentious affair that resulted in numerous demos, revisions and variations being recorded at the Warner Bros. scoring stage under the expert ears of engineer Dan Wallin. Fielding revised some cues as many as four times, and the last-recorded version was not necessarily the one used in the finished film.
Disc 1 and the first three tracks of disc 2 present a complete sequence of Fielding’s score as it appears (for the most part) in the finished film.
The balance of disc 2 features earlier and alternate versions of the soundtrack cues.
Disc 3 features the contents of the Warner Bros. Records soundtrack album (for which Fielding specially arranged and recorded tracks 1 and 6), as well as additional demos and alternates.
Please see the printed booklet notes for detailed information on the scoring process. These online notes feature track-by-track commentary, along with the recording slate (e.g. 1M1), Warner Bros. log number (e.g. 5054-4, an internal file number at the studio, the last digit being the take number), for listeners interested in comparing the evolution of certain cues. Unless noted otherwise, the cues were recorded as six-track masters—synchronized pairs of three-track masters on 35mm film and ½″ tape—with the main orchestra on one three-track master, and solos (guitars, percussion, piano) on the other.
Also provided, when available, are Fielding’s original manuscript cue titles, as the soundtrack album retitled certain selections, and the studio retroactively applied those titles to the cue sheet for publishing purposes.
The Film Score
- 1. Main Title
1M1, 5054-4/6, recorded 3/14/69
Last chord: 1M1A, 5055-1, 3/14/69
Harmonium overlay: 1M1H, 5003-2, 3/7/69
- In the opening scene of The Wild Bunch, Pike Bishop (William Holden) leads a gang of (apparent) soldiers on horseback into an unsuspecting southern Texas town. On the outskirts, they pass a group of children who have gathered around a cauldron to watch ants and scorpions killing each other—a disturbing portrait that becomes the film’s central metaphor. In town, paroled con Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan) and a pack of shifty gunmen (bounty hunters hired by the railroad, although the viewer does not yet know this) watch from the rooftops. The atmosphere of tension and unease builds to the dramatic moment where the “soldiers” seize control of a railroad depot, and Pike snarls the indelible line, “If they move—kill ’em!”
- “I felt that the task of the score to this movie was at the beginning,” Jerry Fielding told fellow composer David Raksin in a 1979 interview for the radio show The Subject Is Film Music (according to a transcript published in Soundtrack! magazine No. 23). “[To] set up something that’s tenuous because you see the Wild Bunch coming, in American Army uniforms, and if you know that they’re not who you think they are, then the whole thing is shot.” Fielding fosters this crucial ambiguity in two ways. First, he establishes an implacable snare drum line, but uses an 11-beat pattern—thus providing the sense of a march without actually establishing a march rhythm. A typical listener might not consciously become aware of the unusual meter, but will sense something out of place. Second, Fielding keeps the emotional tenor of the cue uncertain. The brief figure that opens the main title is rather mournful; the Spanish-flavored trumpet and horn riffs vaguely sinister; and the major chords for strings and harmonium toward the middle of the cue optimistic. Only near the end of the cue does the tone clarify, with a sickening, descending line that leads into a wild orchestral trill and a hatchet-like descending tritone. Finally, a solitary E-minor chord (with added second) splashes against Sam Peckinpah’s director credit.
- 2. From Coffer to First Shoot-Out
1M3/2M1A, 5002-3, 3/7/69 [3 track]
- Pike’s gang begins to gather up sacks of loot. Outside, a local temperance union strikes up Robert Lowry’s 1864 hymn “Shall We Gather at the River” (an on-set vocal performance accompanied by a small marching band, not heard here) and begins to parade down the main street. As the parade nears the depot, Pike and his men spot the rooftop bounty hunters—including the crude, ceaselessly bickering Coffer (Strother Martin) and T.C. (L.Q. Jones). Fielding’s score enters underneath the hymn with softly creeping dissonance, building tension with the addition of snare drum and cymbal, until the outlaws make a run for safety and all hell breaks loose. The ensuing bloodbath, in which many of the townsfolk are killed, is unscored.
- 3. They Cleared Out (0:00–1:41)
2M3, 5061-2, 3/17/69 [3 track]
- Thornton calls off the assault once it becomes clear that all the members of Pike’s gang have escaped, died or been mortally wounded. The music enters with a flourish on a cut to the outskirts of town. Using a gesture drawn from the main title, low strings descend precipitously as the giggling children set fire to their cauldron of ants and scorpions. A pensive guitar precedes the introduction of the dirge theme associated with Pike—a pained, melancholy line that producer Phil Feldman referred to as the “lone man theme” or “lonely man theme”—as the surviving outlaws ride out of town. The scene then crossfades back to main street, where Coffer and T.C. are picking over corpses. An elegiac cello enters, followed by a quote of “Shall We Gather at the River” as Thornton surveys the devastation.
- Buck’s Arroyo (1:42–2:36)
2M4, 5060-3, 3/17/69 [3-track]
- This cue begins after the killing of “Crazy” Lee (Bo Hopkins), whom Pike left behind to guard hostages. A grim string passage plays as Thornton exits the depot and witnesses children already reenacting the gun battle. Abrasive guitar and snare drum follow a cut to Pike’s much-reduced troop as they cross the desert. One of their number, Buck (Rayford Barnes), succumbs to his injuries and falls from his horse down the slope of an arroyo. The music intensifies as Buck admits to Pike that he cannot ride, climaxing with an echoplexed blast as Pike puts a “merciful” bullet through the wounded man’s brain.
- 4. Judas Goat (0:00–0:14)
3M1, 4992-4, 3/6/69 [3-track]
original title: “Pike Flashback”
- A brief passage highlighting bassoon and cimbalom accompanies railroad detective Pat Harrigan (character actor Albert Dekker, in his last film role) cruelly putting Thornton in his place. A short flashback shows Thornton being tortured in a Yuma prison cell—his primary incentive to hunt down Pike.
- Mexico Lindo (0:15–1:00)
3M2R, 4998-7, 3/7/69
- A dramatic crescendo leads into an outburst of the film’s jagged adventure theme (called “the Wild Bunch theme” by producer Phil Feldman) as Pike reaches the river that represents the Mexican border along with his remaining gang members: loyal right-hand man Dutch Engstrom (Ernest Borgnine); temperamental brothers Lyle Gorch (Warren Oates) and Tector Gorch (Ben Johnson); and a young, idealistic Mexican native, Angel (Jaime Sánchez). The music softens while they contemplate the picturesque landscape, perking up briefly and moving into a loose reference to “Song From The Wild Bunch” as they ford the river.
- Half Hour of Light (1:01–1:27)
3M3R, 4999-2, 3/7/69
original title: “Half Hour of Lite”
- This short cue introduces Fielding’s harsh, descending motive for the pursuing bounty hunters, juxtaposing it with a phrase of the adventure theme as both hunters and hunted journey onward through the desert.
- To Sykes’s Camp (1:28–2:18)
3M4R, 5000-1, 3/7/69
- The film cuts to an extirpated village where Pike’s old confederate Sykes (Edmond O’Brien) waits for them. A lovely duet for flute and guitar gives way to melancholy solo oboe as Pike and the bunch ride up from the desert. “[The] job of the picture becomes,” Fielding observed to Raksin, “to take to these guys, who have performed a reprehensible act before your eyes, and cause you to weep when they die. And that’s a long way to go.”
- 5. Angel Confronts the Gorch Brothers (0:00–0:59)
3M5, 4975-1, 2/28/69
- Fielding intersperses forlorn lines for flute and clarinet with jangling cimbalom for Angel’s spat with the agitated Gorch Brothers, in the aftermath of the discovery that the hard-won sacks of loot contain worthless steel washers.
- 1st Denver Hotel (with “Darkey’s Awakening”) (1:00–1:41)
4M1X, 5127-1, 4/14/69 (“Extension Into First Flashback [Denver]”) (1:00–1:13)
4M1, 4991-2, 3/6/69 interpolating 4M1R,
“Darkey’s Awakening” overlay (1:14–1:41) [single channel]
- That night, both Pike and Thornton reflect on their last meeting: a hotel in Denver, when they were partners enjoying the fruits of a big score. Fielding scores the flashback with anxious, dreamily shifting chords. An overlay of “[The] Darkey’s Awakening,” a popular 19th-century banjo standard by George L. Lansing, heightens the scene’s hallucinatory quality.
- Phil Feldman wrote to Sam Peckinpah on February 4, 1969, “Jerry Fielding seems to have located some rinky dink device at a Santa Fe whore house, which will give us the music we want and imply what the situation is. If he doesn’t get that, then he has to dig up some of his own rinky dink devices to give us what we need. This rinky dink device has to move in and out with the reality of Angel’s guitar and possibly the bounty hunters’ theme when the switchover takes place back and forth.” It is unclear exactly what “rinky dink device” was used for “Darkey’s Awakening,” but 4M1R was re-recorded from a vintage device of some kind, as its intentionally poor sound was captured on the Warner Bros. scoring stage as a monaural recording.
- 6. Denver Flashback (with “Darkey’s Awakening”)
4M3, 4990-2, 3/6/69
original title: “2nd Denver Hotel”
interpolating 4M1R, “Darkey’s Awakening” overlay
- The flashback music continues, as Pike’s false assurance that the authorities won’t look for them in their own backyard leads to him getting shot and Thornton being captured. Once again, “Darkey’s Awakening” is overlaid. In the film, this flashback sequence interrupts and overlaps with an onscreen performance by Angel of the song “La Adelita” (see disc 2, track 4).
- 7. Slow Motion Tumble (0:00–1:01)
4M5 2nd Revision, Part I, 5124-2, 4/14/69 (0:00–0:18)
4M5 1st Revision, 5083-2, 4/7/69 (0:19–1:00)
original title, “Falling Down the Hill”
- Pike’s bunch sets off for the nearby town of Agua Verde, where they hope to gather information and perhaps plan another raid. They also plan to stop at Angel’s village. Along the way, Sykes stumbles and sends them over the edge of a steep dune, dislodging everyone but Angel. The cue begins with a crisp orchestral statement of “La Adelita,” followed by terse music for the falling men and their mounts (the tail end of this cue, 0:48–1:01, was dialed out of the film). Said Fielding to Raksin: “What it needed was a martial music, ‘getting from here to there’ music. In any picture like this, which deals with an historical era I always like to research it thoroughly, because I like to be able to stand up under really critical scrutiny.”
- The filmmakers left the memorable exchange that follows unscored: Tector threatens Sykes’s life, and Pike responds with the defining retort, “When you side with a man you stay with him! And if you can’t do that, you’re like some animal! You’re finished! We’re finished! All of us!”
- Aurora Mi Amor (1:01–3:01)
5M1R, 5050-3, 3/14/69 (1:01–2:17)
5M1A 2nd Revision, 5082-2, 4/7/69 (2:18–3:01)
original title: “Brother Pike Needs Help”
- The score re-enters with alarm as Pike’s stirrup breaks, and he falls to the ground clutching his leg. The Gorch brothers mock his apparent weakness, with the dirge theme briefly threatening to form. But Pike regains his footing and his horse, and a suspenseful interlude transitions into a sweeping new romantic theme—the full significance of which Fielding does not reveal until later in the film (see disc 1, track 15, also titled “Aurora Mi Amor”). This, in turn, gives way to somber music as the desert trek continues. (Studio memos indicate that, at one point, the filmmakers planned to feature the mariachi standard “Cielito Lindo” in this sequence.)
- 8. All Clear (0:00–1:10)
13M3/13M3A, 4973-10, 2/28/69
original title: “Bounty Hunters and Sykes’s Indian”
- Thornton reaches the Mexican border but decides to turn back, trusting himself to anticipate Pike’s next move. The rendition of the score’s vibrant action motive heard here, used in the film for the iconic shot of Thornton and his bounty hunters riding toward the camera, was actually tracked from an otherwise unused alternate of a later cue (“Bounty Hunters and Sykes’s Indian”; compare to disc 1, track 25). The remainder of the scene in the finished film uses material from “All Clear (version 1)” (disc 2, track 11). The FSM assembly, however, allows the tracked cue to play out as recorded. Its sinister statements of the bounty hunter motive echo Fielding’s first revised version for the scene (disc 2, track 10).
- Arriving at Angel’s Camp (1:11–2:22)
5M4, 4984-4, 3/6/69
original title: “Arrival at Angel’s Village”
- The bunch arrives at Angel’s village—now in ruins due to war. Fielding scores the scene with a delicate setting of “Song From The Wild Bunch,” moving into numinous suspended strings and percussion accents. Solo oboe enters on a transition to later that day, when the men have begun to unwind.
- 9. Drunk With Wine and Love (0:00–1:37)
5M5A, 4980-5, 2/28/69 [3-track]
- Mexican elder Don José (Chano Urueta) reveals that the corrupt forces of General Mapache ruined and plundered the village—also killing Angel’s father. Making things worse, Angel’s sweetheart, Teresa, followed Mapache as a willing consort, “drunk with wine and love.” Reflecting on the Gorch brothers’ infatuated play with the local girls, Don José observes: “We all dream of being a child again. Even the worst of us. Perhaps the worst most of all.” A tender guitar solo accompanies the scene, backed first by accordion (partly dialed out of the film) and then by tender strings. In character, the melody is not far from “Song From The Wild Bunch.”
- Dance at Angel’s Camp (1:38–4:30)
5M6/6M1, 4968-1, 2/27/69 [3-track]
- Following a crescendo, the scene transitions to festivities later that evening. Fielding provides a sprightly dance for two guitars, guitarrón (a deep-bodied, six-string guitar), accordion and harmonica.
- In the film, this cue leads to the villagers singing “La Golondrina” as the bunch departs (see disc 2, track 3 for information about the song, and disc 2, track 28 for the guitar backing track).
- 10. Entrance of the General
6M2C, 5129-1, 4/14/69 [3-track, recorded wild]
- Upon arriving at Agua Verde, the bunch is greeted by the sight of General Mapache (Mexican actor, director and screenwriter Emilio Fernández) arriving in a red Packard Six automobile—emblematic of technology’s steady encroachment on the Old West. Fielding heralds Mapache’s entrance with martial drums and bugle fanfares (traditional military calls known as “llamadas”).
- 11. Mariachi at First Cantina
6M3, 4957-2, 2/27/69 [3-track]
- Pike and the others marvel over the car, then proceed to a cantina, where they have a good view of Mapache’s high table. Fielding strikes up an upbeat mariachi number, using the same ensemble as “Dance at Angel’s Camp,” with the addition of two trumpets.
- 12. Song From The Wild Bunch (0:00–2:37)
6M4/7M1R, 4965-3, 2/27/69 [3-track]; original title, “Puta”
- Teresa (Sonia Amelio)—or rather, the ideal of love and fidelity that Teresa represents—is the central focus of Fielding’s “Song From The Wild Bunch,” originally titled “Puta” (Mexican slang for “whore”) in reference to her actions at the cantina, where she deliberately spurns Angel and attaches herself to Mapache. Here, Fielding arranges the song for his mariachi ensemble, adding strings, a guitarra de golpe (a special five-string guitar, used for rhythm or chordal accompaniment) and accordion.
- Angel Blows His Cork (2:38–3:19)
7M2, 4971-9, 2/28/69
- Enraged by Teresa’s betrayal, Angel draws his gun and kills her. The orchestra thrashes violently, joined at one point by frenetic piano figures, as chaos breaks out and the bunch restrains Angel. The conclusion of the scene, where Pike (temporarily) talks his way out of trouble by explaining the reason for Angel’s passion, plays without music, save for a snippet of the song “Jesusita en Chihuahua,” not duplicated here (see disc 1, track 26 for background on the song).
- 13. Give It to Him
4M5, 5064-2, 3/17/69 [3-track]
original title, “Falling Down on the Hill”
- Back in Texas, Coffer and T.C. tease and harass Thornton, emphasizing his dejection and alienation. Snarky brass and woodwinds slide over a snare drum rhythm, interrupted by a coarse harmonica and bleak descending gestures. Interestingly, Fielding wrote and recorded this cue as an early version of “Falling Down on the Hill,” before completely rewriting it as “Slow Motion Tumble” (disc 1, track 7).
- 14. Ain’t He the One? (0:00–1:09)
7M3X, 5062-3, 3/17/69 [3-track]
- Pike negotiates with Commander Mohr (Fernando Wagner), Mapache’s military attaché from Imperial Germany, to hijack a train carrying a shipment of American guns. The music enters with the arrival of Mapache, continuing as Lyle and Tector offer an inappropriate toast and demand women. The tense underscore adopts a touch of the same dramatic fluttering that accompanied Pike’s fall in the desert and concludes with meandering low reeds.
- Por Favor, I Need Him (1:10–2:13)
7M3, 4983-8, 3/6/69
- The tension continues as Pike insists to Mapache that Angel be freed. Mapache objects, but finally concedes, and the tone lightens with just a hint of the adventure theme—the music becoming slightly saucy as whores are brought in for the Gorch brothers.
- Bodega el Bodega de Baño (2:14–5:38)
7M4/8M1 pickup, 4979-3, 2/28/69 (2:14–3:27)
7M4/8M1, 4978-6, 2/28/69 (3:28–5:38)
original title: “Wine Cellar”
- Lyle, Tector and their women carouse among wine vats, while the other men enjoy a steam bath. (In a significant moment, Dutch notices a large scar on Pike’s leg.) Fielding’s appropriately jubilant cue for the scene employs maracas, marimba and plenty of bright brass. “The only bit of real fun is in the wine cellar,” the composer opined in Garner Simmons’s book Peckinpah: A Portrait in Montage. “All the rest is full of darkness and sadness.”
- 15. Give Him One (0:00–1:11)
8M2X, 5059-4, 3/17/69 [3-track]
- Angel is reluctant to participate in the raid, since Mapache could use the guns against his village; but Dutch suggests that they let Angel take a case of the guns for his people. A tentative passage, with clarinet doubling accordion, accompanies Pike’s agreement. The matter being resolved, the music transitions back to fun and frolic, ending on a mock-serious note when a very drunk Lyle enters and introduces his new “fiancée.”
- Aurora Mi Amor (1:12–2:55)
8M2, 5051-4, 3/14/69
original title: “Pike’s Flashback”
- Back in Texas, Thornton explains his belief that Pike will make a grab for the weapons shipment. Music enters as the film returns to the bunch, now headed out from Agua Verde. Dutch enquires about Pike’s scar, and Pike recounts the tale—shown in flashback—of how he once took up with a married woman (Aurora Clavel), and how her jealous husband murdered her and shot Pike through the leg. Fielding here returns to the love theme introduced in the previous cue of the same name (disc 1, track 7), thereby explaining its earlier connection to Pike’s injury. The finished film replaced a portion of this music (1:12–1:37) with tracked material from “Arriving at Angel’s Camp” (disc 1, track 8). The cue concludes with an ominous passage, quoting the dirge theme as the bunch rides on.
- 16. Assault on the Train and Escape, Parts 1 and 2 (0:00–4:54)
9M1R Part I, 5076-4, 4/7/69 [0:00–1:21]
9M1R Part II, 5077-4, 4/7/69 [1:22–2:36]
9M1AR, 5078-3, 4/7/69 [2:37–4:54]
original title: “They’re Coming”
- The train hijacking and subsequent escape that follows serves as the central action set piece of The Wild Bunch, occurring precisely halfway through the film. Fielding composed roughly 10 minutes of nearly continuous music for this sequence. The bunch’s surreptitious takeover of the train engine during a routine refueling stop, and their successful decoupling of the car carrying the weapons from the one housing Thornton, the bounty hunters and a troop of green army recruits, plays without music. The score enters after Thornton realizes that the engine is pulling away and tells his men, “Let’s go.” A sustained trill, shot through with exciting piano figures and interjections from brass and strings, plays as the engine picks up steam, with the action motive surging as Thornton’s men begin pursuit on horseback—leaving the hapless recruits behind. Approximately a minute-and-a-half of music (1:02–2:38) does not appear in the film: a mixed-meter ostinato combining bars of five and seven would have underscored a vignette in which Dutch becomes trapped in the gap between cars and Angel must rescue him. The finished film dials the music dials back in on a cut to the abandoned soldiers, with a martial line for snare drum and cymbal as they struggle to get their gear together. This material trades off with suspenseful music for the bunch offloading the stolen weapons onto a waiting wagon. Pike proceeds to throw the engine into reverse, sending it chugging back along the track.
- Locomotive Wreck (4:55–6:38)
9M2, 4997-5, 3/7/69
- The bunch rides away with their stolen weapons, and the off-kilter adventure theme leaps forward. The mixed-meter ostinato returns as the train follows its track back toward the army, narrowly missing Thornton’s group. The adventure theme sounds once again on a brief cut to the charging wagon, then the music returns to snare drum and cymbal for the soldiers attempting to unload their horses. Their commanding officer (Stephen Ferry) watches in horror as the returning train engine smashes into their car—the music responding with a fierce, trilling crescendo.
- 17. Assault on the Train and Escape, Parts 3 and 4
9M3, 5045-8, 3/14/69
original title: “In the Drink!” (0:00–1:28)
9M3C, 5079-2, 4/7/69 (insert from 0:43–0:59)
9M3–10M1A, 5046-6, 3/14/69 (1:29–2:48)
original title, “In the Drink!”
10M2, 4986-3, 3/6/69 (2:49–3:19)
original title: “After the Bridge”
- The finished film tracks brief scenes of the bounty hunters picking up the wagon’s trail, and of the army regrouping in the aftermath of the crash, with material from “Locomotive Wreck.” Part 3 of the assault and escape begins with another statement of the adventure theme, as the hunters grow closer and the bunch reaches a bridge they have rigged with dynamite. The action motive (accompanied by trilling xylophone) returns as the soldiers finally get underway, followed by the bounty hunter motive as the pursuers exchange gunfire with the bunch. Suspense continues to build as the wagon gets stuck on the bridge after the fuse has been lit. The action motive sounds again when the soldiers arrive and take up positions on a ridge. Finally, the wagon breaks free. The music intensifies as the bunch rides off and Thornton and his men ride onto the bridge for another exchange of gunfire.
- The ensuing explosion that drops Thornton’s party into the river—the film’s most memorable and outlandish stunt—is unscored. Part 4 (originally titled “After the Bridge”) picks up during the aftermath, with fragments of the adventure theme playing at a more relaxed tempo as the bunch rides away to freedom. The drama finally winds down with a fading trill, suggesting a lack of closure.
- 18. Drinking Song
10M3R, 5126-2, 4/14/69 (0:00–0:28)
10M3, 5057-6, 3/17/69 3 track (0:29–0:52)
10M3A, 5058-5, 3/17/69 (0:53–2:07)
- The bunch is elated by their success, but Sykes advises them that Thornton will be back. Fielding accompanies this sobering thought with a reworking of “To Sykes’s Camp” (disc 1, track 4), drawing a parallel between the film’s two raids that suggests an unsettling similarity between victory and failure. The brooding atmosphere evaporates when Tector uncorks a bottle of whiskey and the gang eagerly passes it around. By the time the bottle reaches Lyle, it is empty, and laughter breaks out. Fielding scores this comic vignette with a winsome instrumental passage featuring harmonica. (Peckinpah originally pressed for a more Mexican sensibility, but Feldman lobbied against the change, arguing that the joke was too universal to reduce to geography.)
- 19. Santa Amalia
10M4R, 5130-2, 4/14/69
Accordion overlay, 5139-1, 4/15/69
Vocal, 5141-9, 4/15/69
- Mapache receives word of the raid’s success during a skirmish with Pancho Villa’s forces. He strides through the war zone with an apparent lack of concern as a young boy-soldier watches in adoration. Sheltered by a railroad car, a mariachi band performs a rendition of “El Corrido de Santa Amalia,” a popular ballad of the Mexican Revolution. The vocalist on this track (and in the film) is Yolanda Ponce. (Studio memos detail Peckinpah’s annoyance at having paid Ponce’s clearance fee for the 1969 LP, only to discover that Fielding had elected not to include the song on his album assembly.)
- 20. Dynamite (0:00–1:15)
11M0, 5125-3, 4/14/69
- Pike rightly believes that Mapache will not honor their deal and decides to rig the wagon with dynamite as insurance. Meanwhile, Lyle and Tector discover an unexpected bonus among the weapons: a brand-new machine gun. Fielding scores the scene with a wandering passage for alto and bass flutes, clarinet and bassoon. (Fielding intended the music at 0:38–1:05 for a deleted exchange between Angel and Pike, in which Angel warns that his people have been watching, and will be waiting to receive their share of the weapons. These lines, had they been left in, would have diminished the surprise of the natives’ sudden appearance later on.)
- Adventures on the High Road, Part 1 (1:16–2:40)
11M1, 4972-3, 2/28/69 (1:16–2:03)
11M1A, 4976-4, 2/28/69 (2:04–2:40) [3-track] original title: “My People Are Here”
- The adventure theme—first the rhythms and harmonic accompaniments, then a brief quote of the theme in full—plays for a montage of the bunch scouting the route ahead and transporting the wagon. When they take refuge among rock formations, Angel’s people catch them off guard and the adventure music yields to a spooky passage highlighting low woodwinds, shakers, membranophones and mallet percussion.
- 21. Adventures on the High Road, Part 2
11M2X, 5086-2, 4/7/69 (0:00–0:07)
original title: “We Are Friends (front extension)”
11M2, 5049-3, 3/14/69 (0:08–0:52, 1:07–1:32)
original title: “We Are Friends”
11M2A, 5081-2, 4/7/69 (0:53–1:06)
original title: “We Are Friends (insert)”
- The adventure theme returns in force as the travel montage continues, but the music darkens—with ominous figures for trumpet, xylophone and choppy strings—as the bunch finds themselves surrounded in a deep arroyo by Mapache’s troops, under the command of Lieutenant Herrerra (Alfonso Arau).
- 22. Menace
11M3, 5121-2, 4/14/69 (0:00–0:35)
- A rush of tremolo strings breaks in when an overeager Mexican fires into the wagon and Pike lights the fuse, followed by a grave descent through the orchestra as Herrerra restrains his men and pleads with Pike to prevent the dynamite from going off. Here Fielding brilliantly reworks the cue from early during the film where children are seen burning a cauldron of vermin (disc 1, track 3). Metaphorically, the arroyo represents the cauldron, the bunch the scorpions, and the Mexican soldiers the ants. By linking the two scenes musically, Fielding subtly reinforces this connection and intensifies the sense of jeopardy.
- Adventures on the High Road, Part 3
12M1, 5048-9, 3/15/69 (0:36–1:57)
original title: “Muchachos—Vamonos!”
- Threatening music resumes as Herrerra withdraws his forces: Pike will send someone to Agua Verde to meet with Mapache and discuss the terms of exchange. But the departing wagon has not gone unobserved—a sparkling figure reveals that Thornton has been spying on the proceedings. The adventure theme soon returns as the bunch rides on, winding down on a fade to Pike’s arrival at Agua Verde.
- 23. Sykes in the Sand Box or The Schidt Seen
12M2A, 5123-4, 4/14/69
- In the desert, Sykes drops his pants and prepares to relieve himself—only to be interrupted by a lit stick of dynamite, tossed at his feet by Tector. The elder Gorch brother laughs, although Sykes is predictably furious. The scene plays without music in the film, perhaps because Fielding’s buoyant underscore—a reprise of “La Adelita” similar to the original version of “Slow Motion Tumble” (disc 2, track 8)—was deemed too comical in tone.
- 24. He’s a Thief
12M5/13M1, 4987-3, 3/6/69 (0:00–0:54)
original title: “He’s a Thief!”
- All goes smoothly with Mapache until the exchange made by Dutch and Angel: Mapache’s men seize Angel and music enters with a harsh burst of brass, gong and cimbalom as they throw him to the ground. (Teresa’s grieving mother has informed Mapache of Angel’s gun-running.) A poignant guitar accompanies Angel’s silent exchange with Dutch, but the older man is ill-equipped to fight an army. Angel does not incriminate the bunch, Dutch departs, and a quote of the dirge theme transitions to a long sustained note.
13M1A, 5085-1, 4/7/69 (0:55–1:17)
- This brief, unused cue continues the mood from the previous scene, and would have added melancholy color to the aftermath of a deleted exchange between Dutch and Sykes regarding Angel’s fate. (The final cut jumps directly to Dutch’s return to camp, with the line, “Sykes says we got to go after him.”)
- 25. Is That Sykes? (0:00–1:14)
13M2R, 5120-4, 4/14/69
- Thornton’s men ambush Sykes on his way back from unloading the last of the guns. Increasingly tense figures break into a passage of rapid action as Sykes makes a break for it and is shot through the leg. The anxious music that follows (0:47–1:15) was dialed out of the film, and would have played under Pike’s heated argument with Dutch about Thornton’s culpability and the meaning of giving one’s word—a rare moment of conflict between the two men that intensifies the emotional stakes moving into the finale.
- Bounty Hunters and Sykes’s Indian (1:15–3:06)
13M3R, 5122-1, 4/14/69 (1:15–2:22)
13M3A, 4977-4, 2/28/69 (2:23–3:06) [3-track]
- The bounty hunter motive dominates Thornton’s pursuit of Sykes. When they find nothing but blood, they abandon the chase to go after the others. Sykes remains alive, however, and the instrumentation for the native Mexicans in “Adventures on the High Road” returns as one of their number discovers the wounded old man.
- 26. Dragging Angel (0:00–2:03)
13M5/14M1, 4960-5, 2/27/69 [3-track]
- The bunch returns to Agua Verde—ostensibly to resupply, and in the hope that Mapache will wind up taking care of Thornton for them. They are sickened to find Angel being tortured—dragged behind the general’s car while a gaggle of trailing children mock and torment him. Pike attempts to buy Angel’s freedom, but Mapache is unyielding. Musically, the horror of the scene stands in stark contrast to a cheery rendition of of “Jesusita en Chihuahua,” a Mexican polka by Quirino Mendoza y Cortés. Although this was indeed a popular piece during the Mexican Revolution (Pancho Villa reportedly liked to have it played during battle) its presence in The Wild Bunch represents a minor anachronism: the film takes place in 1913, while “Jesusita” did not premiere until 1916.
- (Three additional source renditions of “Jesusita en Chihuahua” are heard earlier in the film, but placed on disc 2 for optimal listening purposes: “Musica—Musica” [disc 2, track 18] and “First Machine Gun Fiesta”/“Second Machine Gun Fiesta” [disc 2, track 19].)
- Army Patrol (2:04–2:35)
14M2, 5053-2, 3/14/69 [3-track]
- The action fades to Thornton and his men, Fielding’s music darkening ominously as the bounty hunters catch sight of a Mexican army patrol and take flight.
- Dinner at Drunken Brawl (2:36–3:48)
14M3, 4961-3, 2/27/69 [3-track]
- Back at Agua Verde, Fielding provides another boozy mariachi tune (the sloppy performance is intentional) for the ongoing festivities. The bunch is conspicuously absent.
- 27. Song From The Wild Bunch (guitar)
14M4–5, 4981-1, 2/28/69 [single channel]
original title: “Wild Guitar”
- On the outskirts of town, Pike has allowed himself a dalliance with a pretty Mexican girl. “Song From The Wild Bunch” plays on solo guitar as he contemplates the impoverished woman and her child. In the next room, Lyle and Tector haggle with a whore. The guitar continues to play as the film reaches a key turning point: “Let’s go,” says Pike simply; and Lyle, understanding what he means, replies, “Why not?”
- 1. Attempt to Save Angel (0:00–2:06)
14M7R, 5088-5, 4/7/69
original title: “Long March”
- The scene in which Pike, Dutch, Tector and Lyle take up their rifles and march to the center of Agua Verde is one of the most iconic of the western genre—and perhaps all of cinema. Although critics often praise the stunning framing and expert lens work, Fielding’s contribution is no less essential. As a sleepy street band drones a source-music rendition of “La Golondrina” (not duplicated here), Fielding begins a march with snare drum and cymbal, employing the same 11-beat meter that he used for the film’s main title. As the bunch nears the heart of Mapache’s lair, this lopsided cadence gradually dominates the film mix. The orchestra enters as Mapache notices them, and a forlorn horn line plays as Pike demands that Angel be turned over.
- I Gonna Give It to You (2:07–2:42)
14M8, 5080-4, 4/7/69
- Fragile high strings and a tender guitar convey heartbreak and desperation as Mapache drags Angel to his feet. The sickening, descending line from the main title and the burning cauldron scene returns once more. Mapache takes out a knife and slits Angel’s throat, and the orchestra ascends shrilly—culminating in a slashing descent as the bunch unloads their weapons into the drunken general.
- 2. Dirge and Finale
15M1, 5047-1, 3/14/69
original title: “Dirge”
- The long silence after the death of Mapache, Pike’s decision to shoot Commander Mohr, and the subsequent bloodbath are all left unscored. Only when Pike and Dutch finally fall does Fielding begin his dirge. The sorrowful melody continues as Thornton arrives to witness the aftermath of the battle. Woodwinds momentarily sour the mood as Coffer and T.C. begin to enthusiastically pick through the bodies. But the music lightens—and even warms briefly—as Thornton finds Pike’s body and retrieves his gun. Fielding’s original composition continues from here with another lonely woodwind line, followed by a lush quote of “Song From The Wild Bunch” as Thornton leaves his men to their haggling and goes to sit by the gate. The finished film tracks in material from the alternate “Brother Pike Needs Help” (disc 2, track 9), giving the dirge theme more prominence.
- The finale begins with a solemn horn line, as Thornton watches his men ride out—knowing that they will never make it back to Texas without him. Mournful strings and harmonium enter, bringing more variations of the dirge as the film transitions to a windswept dusk and a funereal procession of villagers abandoning the ruined town. Now it is just Thornton, his horse and the buzzards, and the music thickens with expressive strings. At last, Sykes and his new native friends arrive to survey the wreckage, and the music fades away for the film’s final conversation.
- 3. La Golondrina
- “Me and the boys, here—we got some work to do,” Sykes tells Thornton. “You wanna come along? It ain’t like it used to be, but—it’ll do.” Thornton laughs and takes his place in the procession as, somewhere, a band strikes up an out-of-tune rendition of “La Golondrina.” The image of the ragged band riding toward the horizon alternates with superimposed flashbacks of all the members of the bunch, caught in moments of unguarded merriment. Finally, the end credits begin to roll.
- “La Golondrina” (which translates as “The Swallow”) was written in 1862 by Mexican composer Narciso Serradell Sevilla during his exile in France. The song became a beloved anthem—not only in Mexico, but around the world—and was especially associated with the Mexican Revolution. It is sung during the departure of the bunch from the native village, and again in Agua Verde underneath the long march to save Angel. Fielding prepared several instrumental versions of the song for the end credits, one of which wound up on his album program (disc 3, track 10). But Peckinpah ultimately opted to use a raw source-music rendition to close his bittersweet film.
- As on the 1997 Warner Home Video CD of The Wild Bunch, this closing music comes directly from the finished film (in the absence of a surviving music track with vocals), including sound effects. See disc 2, track 28 for the instrumental backing track. —