Waxing Musically Nostalgic with Michael Z. Land (and Bajakian and McConnell)

The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of Michael Z. Land, the justly-famous composer whose musical influence on my youth was both vast and unforgettable.

What do you mean, “He’s not famous?”

What do you mean, YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO HE IS???”

Here. Listen to this:

Actually, hang on. That’s a bit squeaky/PC-ish, and might not be the best way to showcasing Land’s considerable musical talents. Try this one, instead:

And this:

Those first two links are the Original and Special Edition versions of my favorite Land work of all time: the instantly-recognizable theme from LucasArts’ The Secret of Monkey Island. And the third is a track from his most atmospheric score (and one of LucasArts’ more successfully ambitious projects): The Dig.

Land was the “lead composer/musical godfather” at LucasArts, which is probably why I tend to think of him so readily when harking/hearkening back to my youthful immersions in their games. Clint Bajakian was another staple, and his work on such titles as Outlaws and Dark Forces showed him to be a spectacular mimic of Williams and Morricone. And yes, Pete McConnell was a favorite, too; especially when it came to more explicitly humorous cuts, like Grim Fandango. Quite the compositional trio, really. (Land, Bajakian, and McConnell all worked on The Day of the Tentacle score together, and the result is an astonishingly varied/hilarious mix. …sort of like the game, actually.)

I have The Dig and Monkey Island and The Day of the Tentacle scores on CD at home. And yes, I listen to them all the time. Why? That’s not normal?

…OK, so Land and his compatriots and LucasArts (and iMuse) may have had a more significant influence on my childhood than on yours. But that’s not my fault, is it? (If you want to learn/listen more, “Stan’s Previously-Owned Soundtracks” YouTube channel is invaluable. So is the LucasArtSoundtracks site.)

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About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.


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