The Music of TATMR

In this section, we'll explore the stories behind the music featured in Thomas and the Magic Railroad - as told by the performers themselves.

Movie Soundtrack

TATMR Soundtrack US
Unforscene Music (North America)
Release Date: 01-AUG-2000
TATMR Soundtrack UK
Nascentre (United Kingdom)
Release Date: 17-JUL-2001

Track Listing - Total Play Time: 00:48:19

He's A Really Useful Engine (01:32)
Steven Page
Shining Time (03:18)
Maren Ord
I Know How The Moon Must Feel (03:22)
Dayna Manning
Some Things Never Leave You (02:57)
Joe Henry
Summer Sunday (02:59)
Dominic Gibbson, Dominic Goundar, Rob Jenkins, Gerard McLachlan, & Ben Wright
The Locomotion (03:54)
Atomic Kitten
Main Title (03:32)
Hummie Mann
Lily Travels To The Island Of Sodor (04:33)
Hummie Mann
Burnett & Lady/Diesel 10 & Splodge (03:28)
Hummie Mann
Diesel 10 Threatens Mr. C/Lily & Patch (04:25)
Hummie Mann
Through The Magic Buffers (06:36)
Hummie Mann
The Chase, The Clue & The Happy Ending (07:43)
Hummie Mann

Maren Ord - Singer

The television theme song from Shining Time Station was prominently featured in Thomas and the Magic Railroad. Professional singer and songwriter Maren Ord 's version of Shining Time can be heard in the movie's end credits, and can also be found in the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for TATMR. Below, Maren shares with us her memories of performing this song.
reply received 30 January, 2008

Can you tell us how you became involved with the movie and for singing the track for Shining Time?
I simply got a call from my agent at the time asking if I'd be interested in singing one of the tracks, and like most good opportunities, I like to take them. Besides, I found it would be a fun way to challenge myself in singing a song I didn't write.

Were you familiar with Shining Time Station and/or Thomas beforehand?
As a professional singer, did you find any aspect of the song challenging to perform?
Yes. The night before I flew out to Toronto to record my vocals, I got a call asking what my vocal range was, and in my falsetto voice, it is easy for me to hit a G, so, I told them I could hit a G. Well, when I got into the studio, they wanted me to belt out the song in those higher ranges, which was very difficult for me to do, ...but I did it. I guess that's why the studio is so great. You can do as many takes as it takes to get a part perfect. I really stretched myself. I didn't know I could belt it out that high.
Many fans including myself find that Shining Time is a beautiful song, do you also share that sentiment?
Sure. I was glad that of all the songs in the soundtrack, they asked me to sing that one.
A bit of a mystery for the fans - You're featured on the CD soundtrack, and are heard in the movie's end credits, however it is a male singing Shining Time at the movie's introduction. Can you provide us with any insight as to how and why this came about?
I am sure that was a director's choice, but if I were to guess, I'd say they probably did that to create a variety in the movie, since it's a Theme song. They wanted it featured more than once, but it would have been silly to have my vocals for each time the song was presented in the movie. So, yes, my guess would be for variety's sake.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your music?
I am a singer/songwriter myself, and over the past 10 years have recorded a released 3 albums of my own, among many other projects (like The Thomas movie), and have toured extensively. I am now married and have a son with another one on the way. With settling down like this, I am currently writing and recording music for other Sony artists (my publishing company) so I can comfortably be a Mom, and I perform when I can. I am always working on many projects at a time and hope to eventually release another album of my own.

We'd like to thank Maren for her insight, and wish her all the best with Family and Career. We'd like to also thank Maren's Media Relations agent Jen Fritz for passing our questions on to her :)
Visit Maren's Website or drop into her Myspace page to listen to samples of Maren's music!

Performed by: Joe Henry Lyrics: Don Black  Music: Hummie Mann

The hauntingly beautiful Some Things Never Leave You was originally intended by Britt to be played during a flashback sequence in which a younger Burnett Stone dances with the love of his life, Tasha.  What could be described as a very tender scene was left on the cutting room floor as a result of the radical changes to the storyline. In the final version of the movie, only a faint snippet of it can be heard in the cottage scene where Burnett Stone is sitting near the fireplace.  The full-version of the song was fortunately included with the movie's soundtrack.

Singer-Songwriter Joe Henry lent his talents to the movie by giving us a memorable rendition of the song.  Joe shares his recollections of his musical contribution to TATMR with us:

Reply received 13 May, 2008
Dear James,

Thanks for your interest. I'm afraid I don't have too much to report  to you regarding my participation in the film project. I was  approached last minute to sing "Some Things Never Leave You" and I had no opportunity to meet the songwriters or the film's director.  The orchestral accompaniment had been recorded at some point earlier, and they sent me the multi-track (along with a guide vocal so I could  hear the melody) and I sung it at home alone one morning in my  guesthouse studio in South Pasadena, CA.
It's not a style in which I usually sing, but one I enjoy.  I only wish I could've done it "live" with the orchestration.
All the best,

Joe Henry

We thank Joe for his reply to us, and we wish him all the best as well with his own musical productions. I'd like to also extend my thanks to Mr. Henry's manager, David Whitehead helping us get in touch with Joe. Fans can  learn and enjoy more about Joe's music on his Official Website , which includes several audio and video clips of his performances.

The pleasant laid-back strains of Summer Sunday playing against the background of a tropical paradise beach was how we were first introduced to Junior - the equally laid-back 'cuzling' of Mr. Conductor.

Dominic Goundar - Percussionist

SiF has been fortunate enough to contact one of the performers of Summer Sunday - Musician Dominic Goundar of London.  Dominic has been able to provide the fans with some insight into the background of this song.
Dominic, can you tell us how the band was assembled, who performed the vocals, instruments etc? Or was each member an independent?
The band had existed already for some time under the name Obaben signed to Human Condition Records in Edinburgh. All the members of the band were studying at the university and so met through contacts or friends there. I was the last to join, and this would have been in 1999 if I remember rightly. Ben Wright was the band's front man, chief song-writer and vocalist. The instrumental line up was as follows:

Ben Wright - guitar and vocals
Dominic Gibbeson - Bass
Rob Jenkins - lead guitar
Gerard McLachlan - drums
Dominic Goundar - percussion

We were all part of the band, but for the purposes of the Thomas and the Magic Railroad soundtrack opted to be listed as independents rather than under the Obaben title, which is why we are individually listed.

How long had you been playing the drums at the time that the song was recorded? (you would have been in your early 20's?)
As noted above, although I am a professional drummer now and was certainly a drummer back then too, my role in the band was as percussionist only and so I did not pay drums on the track Summer Sunday. At the time though I had been playing the drums for about 10 years.

Can you tell us more about how the song was written? (theme, inspiration etc.) Was it specifically written for the movie?
I was not involved in the writing process, so I cannot give you any insight into the influences that went into to it. Clearly though, we knew what scene and context the song was going to be used in, and so that naturally informed what kind of feel and vibe it should have. It was written specifically for the movie and to my knowledge featured nowhere else.

Given that it was a 'new' song, did it take the band some time to pull it all together?
My recollection was that it came together quickly. My parts were certainly all recorded on the same afternoon and edited after that.

Do you recall when and where the song was recorded?
The song was recorded in May of 2000 at Human Condition studios in Edinburgh.

Were there any other songs written/played by the band for the movie that weren't used?
To my knowledge there were no other tracks recorded that were intended to be used in film that didn't make the cut. We were commissioned for one song, and one was what was delivered.

Can you tell the fans of the movie more about yourself? Your style of music, and where they can go to hear you play?
My work these days is based mostly in and around London in musical theatre and with bands and singers. I work as a dep drummer on Blood Brothers in the West End on a regular basis and with a number of different bands for both corporate and private functions. I freelance for other bands and artists on an ad hoc basis mostly in live performances and showcases.

On behalf of SiF, I'd like to thank Dominic for getting back to us and we wish you  all our best with your musical endeavours and projects :)

Hummie Mann - Composer
Hummie Mann was responsible for the original scoring music on Thomas and the Magic Railroad, as well as adapting the original Campbell and O'Donnell music and songs for the big screen outing.  Check out Hummie's own official website and have a listen to his other projects!

TATMR Soundtrack Review by Kevin Smith
SiF's Kevin Smith shares his review of the Thomas and the Magic Railroad Soundtrack.

Opening the new millennium, Thomas the Tank Engine fans were greeted with the prospects of seeing their Number 1 Engine and friends on the big screen. Finally, in July of 2000 it came and I remember seeing the movie in theatres as a young teenager. One of the things that I remembered from the movie after all these years was the orchestral score written by Canadian film composer Hummie Mann.

Originally, John Barry, the five-time Oscar winner, had joined the project with the intent of doing it for his youngest son, but did not write a single note of music due to scheduling issues. It would have been very interesting to see what he would have wrote considering the style that he is famous for, with his early James Bond spy scores and his later dramatic scores such as Dances with Wolves and Out of Africa.

Hummie Mann has been writing music for films & television, such Year of the Comet, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and P.T Barnum, since the late nineteen eighties and has been an orchestrator of larger more identifiable projects such as The Addams Family, A Few Good Men and City Slickers (all composed by Marc Shaiman).
Dealing with post production issues as the film being re-cut very late in the process, the end result is that Mann delivered one of his better scores in the scope of his career. He respectably adapted the themes of the original TV series written by composers Mike O’Donnell and Junior Campbell and gave the score a big and bold feel to it, which is what the film desperately needed.
On the issue of the duo of O’Donnell and Campbell not writing music for the movie, I emphasize that it probably would not have provided for better music. The duo had not worked on a project of this size before and I would have been more comfortable with a composer like Hummie Mann, who’s been around for a while and knows how to score films like this.
Opening the soundtrack album is the Mike O’Donnell and Junior Campbell song “He’s a Really Useful Engine”, performed by a real studio orchestra and sung by none other than Barenaked Ladies singer Steven Page. Next, “Shining Time” with lyrics by Sue Ennis and sung by Maren Ord; a pleasant ballad which is utilized as a main theme for the film. The real highlight of the songs is “How the Moon Must Feel” sung by Dayna Manning, symbolizing the lonely feelings of Lily for her personal theme. “Some Things Never Leave You”, sung by Joe Henry, serves the purpose for Burnett who remembers the loss of his wife and the pseudo destruction of Lady. Both of these songs, written by expert lyricist Don Black, are well arranged for the performing orchestra to balance the vocals. Up next  is “Summer Sunday” done by Dominic Gibbson & Co, which has a somewhat jarring change in style compared to the rest of the soundtrack with its laid back manner. Even more jarring is the next song “Locomotion” which was remixed by Atomic Kitten, and it is a long couple of minutes before it is over.

Now onto the score, Hummie Mann wrote a score that it is pretty upbeat and even charming, which perfectly fits the subject matter. The score absolutely does not break any new ground in the scope of the film music world, but then again it didn’t need to. It contains a little bit of everything; big and bold, romance, slap-stick comedy, mock suspense, but the score does not face any jarring shifts from style to style. There are many themes that work their way into the score. There are four of the overarching themes of the movie are the “He’s A Really Useful Engine” melody, “Shining Time”, “I Know How the Moon Must Feel” and “Some Things Never Leave You”. The original Thomas the tank engine theme, by Mike O’Donnell and Junior Campbell, makes an appearance in the score in “Main Title”. The performance is gorgeous when recorded on the real orchestra compared with the synthesizers used in the TV series. In addition to the four song melodies, the evil theme for Diesel 10 is added; it is a somewhat maniac, comical, larger than life theme performed by the brass and percussion. Other leitmotifs weave in and out of the score, including Mr. Conductor (quirky and cheerful), his cousin Junior C (jazzy) and the Island of Sodor (flutes motif, heard at the start of ‘Diesel 10 threatens Mr C’ and at the end of ‘A Happy Ending’).
A film score is usually expected to tell the story through the music, and that is what this one does. From the opening dramatic opening credits to the happy ending, Hummie weaves a musical carpet that fits the film like a glove. Just as you were thinking how pleasant and cheerful the score was, Mann turns on the Bernard Herrmann switch for suspense in “Diesel 10 Threatens Mr. C” which is very convincing. The better parts of the score are the dramatic parts using Lily’s theme or Shining Time, giving the film a heart that it tried so hard to achieve. If a cue had to be singled out as better than the rest is “Through the Magic Buffers” where Mann pulls out all the stops, as Lily & Thomas travel to the real world, using the Shining Time theme in a rousing orchestral climax.
But the final 14 minutes is the real strength of the score accenting the dramatic moments in the latter half of the film utilizing a building suspense motif introduced “Lily Travels to the Island of Sodor”. “The Chase, the Clue & the Happy Ending” is a pretty good summary of everything that has gone before; suspense music for the chase, tender and dramatic reprises of the various themes, and a touching finale. In many cases, the album of a film score is edited together for a cohesive listening experience and this one is no exception. As the score ticks and bobs its way through the album, you can clearly tell where fades start and stop, but it is not a major nuisance.
Now considering the score’s respectfulness to the TV scores of O’Donnell and Campbell, purist Thomas fans will be somewhat disappointed with the lack of other themes that were present in the TV series at that time. I would argue the opposite, because the other engines barely had any roles in the film so that comes out in a wash. Scoring a small time TV show is completely different, through reprising the various themes when appropriate, than a large scale ninety plus minute motion picture. An example of this is a redub of a user on YouTube of the Runaway theme inserted into the final chase sequence. With respects to the user, I can see what they were going for, but it’s still horrendous in how it makes the final chase light-hearted and silly. In regards to the differences in scoring, I draw comparisons to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which was released the following year. It had a score written by Hollywood composer Elliot Goldenthal who has been known for Alien 3, Batman Forever and Heat. He did not use one single musical idea from the Nobuo Uematsu‘s scores for the video game series. This is because The Spirits Within was a much different animal compared to the games and it needed a far more beefy approach.
Overall, I would give the soundtrack album four stars. The studio orchestra gives a precise performance, if lacking a bit in depth in the bass ranges. The songs are definitely not the most attractive part of the soundtrack album. Here, the majority of credit goes to Hummie Mann’s orchestral score (which takes up about 30 minutes of the running time). It did everything that it needed to. It may not be totally original or ground breaking but it has a heart the size of Thomas the tank engine himself.
Out of five stars:
Song Rating: ***
Score Rating: ****
Overall Rating: ****