mfiles logo

David Shire - composer and songwriter

David Shire - Big the musical CD cover Although he has composed a considerable amount of instrumental and theme music for film, TV and the theatre, it is arguably as a songwriter for film and musicals that David Shire has had his greatest success. His creative partner for many broadway musicals was lyricist Richard Maltby Jr. and together they created musicals such as "Baby" and the stage version of "Big" based upon the movie with Tom Hanks. Shire won the Best Song Oscar for the song "It Goes Like It Goes" in the movie "Norma Rae" and has contributed songs to some of his other film scores. His songs have been recorded by many artists including Barbra Streisand, Maureen McGovern, Melissa Manchester and Jennifer Warnes. Despite this emphasis on Broadway and songs, Shire has created some sterling instrumental music for a wide range of films. In the 70s Shire was married to Talia Coppola, the daughter of composer Carmine Coppola and sister of Francis Ford Coppola. Interestingly Shire's music for "Apocalypse Now" was replaced by music by Carmine & Francis Ford Coppola. Shire's original score is available on CD.

David Shire - The Conversation soundtrack CD cover A first encounter with Shire's film music may come away with the impression of something light, with a uniquely intimate and involving aspect. Further listening soon discovers that his film scoring style has a certain logic and consistency which may vary from film to film. For "Farewell my Lovely" he uses a single theme ("Marlowe's Theme"), and presents this in a surprisingly broad range of styles including many different jazz idioms. In "Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear" he uses a single 4-note motif as a unifying element while ably assisting the screen action to build a number of moods and scares. This latter soundtrack also relies heavily on percussion, sometimes suggesting the jungle origins of the monkey.

In January 2005 at the "West Goes East - CalArts at the Kitchen" festival (CalArts meaning The California Institute of the Arts), there was a production of "The Re-Taking of Pelham 1-2-3" by the filmmaker Jane Brill with music by Steve Horowitz inspired by Shire's music on the original film. Although Shire has focussed very much on Television (and Stage) work recently he has completed the film score for David Fincher's "Zodiac".

Films by David Shire:

    David Shire - The Taking of Pelham One Two Three soundtrack CD cover
  • Farewell My Lovely - Shire's own jazzy period setting for this late film noir starring Robert Mitchum
  • The Hindenburg
  • All the President's Men
  • The Big Bus - comedy disaster movie
  • Saturday Night Fever - everyone remembers the Bee-Gees songs and there's some classical works too, but Shire contributes some effective additional music
  • 2010 - the sequel to 2001
  • The Conversation
  • The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
  • The World According to Garp
  • Return to Oz - musically delightful with themes for all the main characters
  • Raid on Entebbe - the TV movie with Yaphet Kotto as President Idi Amin of Uganda
  • Norma Rae - winning an academy award for the song "It Goes Like It Goes"
  • Short Circuit - light and quirky music for this family entertainment
  • Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear - the highlights of the soundtrack are the jungle influences and the way happy and dark music can be justaposed for both tension building suspense and pure shock value
  • Vice Versa
  • Rear Window - the TV movie remake with wheel-chair bound Christopher Reeve replacing James Stewart who had music by Franz Waxman
  • Zodiac - for David Fincher, with Shire also performing the piano solos on the soundtrack
  • Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

TV music by David Shire:

    David Shire - Baby the musical CD cover
  • Lucas Tanner - main theme
  • McCloud - theme and incidental music
  • The Virginian
  • Sarge - theme and some of the episodes
  • Three for the Road - theme music
  • Tales of the Unexpected - theme for the short-lived US series, Ron Grainer did the well-known theme for the UK series
  • Flying High - theme
  • Darkroom - theme
  • Alice - theme for the long-running TV series set in a diner
  • Amazing Stories - a few episodes
  • Sarah Plain and Tall - TV movie
  • I Know that my Name is Steven - TV movie
  • The Women of Brewster Place - TV movie
  • A Father for Charlie - TV movie
  • Streets of Laredo - mini-series

David Shire Recommendations:

Original cast recordings are available of some of Shire's musicals:

David Shire - Memorabilia:

Here are some CD covers signed by David Shire. Our thanks to Petr Kocanda for permission to use his collection of autographed CDs. Click on any thumbnail to see a full size version of the image in a separate window.

David Shire: David Shire at the Movies - signed CD David Shire: The Hindenburg - signed CD David Shire: Zodiac - signed CD David Shire: All the President's Men - signed CD