Today, the great Martin Scorsese’s feverishly anticipated new film Killers Of The Flower Moon finally arrives in theaters. That means that today is a kind of cinematic holiday. But as with so many other things, the excitement carries a bittersweet tinge. In the lead-up to the film’s release, Scorsese has been publicly grappling with the idea that he doesn’t have much time left in the world. In August, Scorsese’s close friend and collaborator Robbie Robertson, former leader of the Band, died at the age of 80, and Scorsese wrote a short but heartfelt tribute.
Martin Scorsese and Robbie Robertson became close friends when Scorsese made the Band’s 1978 concert film The Last Waltz. After that, Robertson did soundtrack curation for Scorsese films like Raging Bull and The Wolf Of Wall Street, and he also scored Scorsese’s movies The Color Of Money and The Irishman. Today, Robertson’s score for Killers Of The Flower Moon gets its posthumous release.
The film — which has a cast that includes musicians like Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, and Jack White — tells the story of white settlers murdering Osage Nation people over oil rights. Robbie Robertson’s mother grew up on the Six Nations Reserve in Canada, and that’s where Robertson learned to play guitar. His score for the film draws on tribal music and blues-rock. A press release for the soundtrack includes some posthumous statements from Robertson:
I feel that the score is unexpected in many ways and authentic to the heart of the story. For me, it’s kind of perfection to be able to go all the way around this big circle. Starting at Six Nations when music comes along in my life, and then to my history with Martin Scorsese and all the movies leading up to Killers Of The Flower Moon. The fact that we’re getting to do a Western in our own way, you really couldn’t have written this. We’re in awe ourselves that our brotherhood has outlasted everything. We’ve been there, we’ve been through it. I am so proud of both our friendship and our work. They have been a gift in my life…
I was gathering pictures in my head of music I heard as a child at the Six Nations Indian Reserve. My relatives are all sitting around with their instruments, and one guy would start a rhythm, and then somebody would start singing a melody to that, and it was just haunting. The feeling of the music beside you like that, humming and droning — the groove and the feel of it got under my skin and it lives there forever…
Two days after Marty returned from Oklahoma and filming had wrapped, he was ready to get started with the music. Digging into my imagination and seeing where it leads me helps build what I do with him. Sometimes, it’s a small build, but this was a really big one. A lot of music was involved with this.
The movie also features Americana musician Charley Crockett’s song “Killers Of The Flower Moon.” Below, stream Robertson’s score and listen to Crockett’s song.
The Killers Of The Flower Moon soundtrack is out now on Sony Masterworks.