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jazz on film: the bridges of madison county // part 2


jazz on film discusses biographical films about jazz musicians, films with jazz-centric stories, films staring jazz musicians, film adaptations of broadway musicals from the jazz age, or, as is the case today, films with a jazz score. A word of warning before we start, this column contains spoilers.

This is part 2 of my discussion of the jazz lyrics present in The Bridges of Madison County. If you haven’t done so already, check out part 1.

the bridges of madison county

At the one hour mark, Robert stands in the kitchen fiddling with the radio dial while Francesca gets dressed. I See Your Face Before Me by Johnny Hartman comes on just as she enters the kitchen wearing her brand new dress. She looks “run around the block howling in agony stunning” according to Robert. The lyrics in I See Your Face Before Me speak to Robert’s feelings but also foreshadow, once again, that the love between Robert and Francesca will last despite them being apart.

I see your face before me
Crowding my every dream
There is your face before me
You are my only theme
It doesn’t matter where you are
I can see how fair you are
I close my eyes and there you are

They share their first dance and their first kiss while the song plays.

[youtube=] In the next scene Francesca and Robert are bathing together as This Is Always by Irene Kral and the Junior Mance Trio plays. This verse from that song stands out:

This isn’t just midsummer madness
A passing glow, a moment’s gladness
Yes it’s love, I knew it on the night we met

The story is being narrated by Francesca through diaries left to her children. At the beginning of the film her children are upset to learn that their mother was unfaithful. This verse captures what Francesca is trying to say to her children – it wasn’t just a summer fling.

the bridges of madison county

The following night Francesca and Robert go to a jazz and blues club far from home. Francesca starts asking Robert all about his life, his childhood, his parents, and Robert replies with “I don’t think I can do this you know … try and cram in a whole lifetime between now and Friday” In the next scene, they are holding each other close and dancing to For All We Know by Johnny Hartman. The song follows them home and plays while they make love.

For all we know we may never meet again
Before you go make this moment sweet again

On the last night of their time together, Francesca packs her bags to leave as Johnny Hartman’s It Was Almost Like A Song plays on the kitchen radio. In the next scene the two eat dinner by candlelight with sad expressions on their face and Robert asks “You’re not going with me are you?”

[youtube=] This has been jazz on film. Please leave film suggestions for future posts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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Renée is a queer, non-binary, disabled, and chronically ill creator based in Montreal. They are a singer, songwriter, pianist, YouTuber, and Periscoper. They are currently a student of jazz studies at Mcgill University and a freelance vocal coach for young and emerging singers.

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