Quick Q and A with Mason Daring

Marbleheaders are all proud to call Mason Daring one of their own. Daring is the much heralded and influential composer of the soundtracks for John Sayles’ films as well as half of the duo, Daring and Stahl. “Marblehead Morning” is the most well-known song by Daring and Stahl.

To discover more about Mason Daring, go to this website.

Here’s a video highlighting Mason’s soundtrack for a series called “The Earth to the Moon.”

Mason Daring and Jeanie Stahl will be appearing at the me&thee in Marblehead, MA on Friday, October 25.

Jeanie Stahl and Mason Daring

 You’ve recently taught a class at Berklee College of Music called “Scoring the Moment.”  It sounds fascinating.  Tell us a little bit about how you approach this class and what you ask the students to do for their assignments.

“Scoring the Moment” is all about students rescoring scenes from my films, without hearing what I did. It is always a thrill to hear these scenes done differently, and occasionally better than I did them originally!

Do you think the role of a film composer necessitates a different kind of mindset than writing songs without the visuals?  Does the composer need to experience empathy or other emotions about the characters or the scene in order to successfully complete his/ her mission of capturing the right essence that works for that particular scene?

Film composition is a long way away from song-writing, basically you have to remember that films are not two-hour music videos with regrettable dialogue.  We are servants of the film, which sounds like a compromise if you don’t do it for a living. I think of films as an opportunity to write. I never write instrumental music without a film to write it to.

 Your website reveals the fact that you’re taking some time off to concentrate on fiction writing.  Is this something that you’ve tried before?  Has hanging out with a creative storyteller like John Sayles had an effect on your in subliminal and maybe not so subliminal ways?

I am finishing my third short story, hopefully this week, and then I want to try to get back into a novel. And yes, John Sayles has been a terrific influence on me — mainly because he is willing to counsel me on my writing.  I love to write words as much as I love to write music. Up to now no one has been willing to pay me to do that — stay tuned and we will see if that changes.

I recently read a review of your solo album that you released a couple years back.  Your stye was compared to that of Van Dyke Parks, Paul Williams, and Roy Orbison, among others.  Do any of those comparisons resonate with you at all?

As far as my solo album goes, I would kill, okay, maybe just maim, to be able to sing as well as any of those guys you mentioned. I love to sing, but only recently have I liked the sound of my voice. One of the advantages of getting older: or maybe my hearing is going!  Jeanie Stahl has a real voice. I just try and get my songs out — although I think our harmonies sound okay. There are times, in certain registers, when I can sound a little like Roy Orbison. I would like to write more things that allow me to do that. Lately I’ve been working on my guitar playing for the most part.

You covered Ricky Nelson’s “Travelin’ Man” on your solo album.  Any particular reason that you were attracted to that song?

“Travelin’ Man” was a song I always wanted to do.  I simply love to sing it — it probably showcases my voice better than other tunes for some reason. It seems to have gotten more airplay than other songs on the album. Or perhaps it’s just a catchier song.

 Others like Ruth Brown and Rita Moreno covered your material. Were you pleased with how they interpreted your songs?

Working with Ruth Brown and Rita Moreno was every bit as good as you would think. The funny thing they had in common was that each wanted me to sit beside them in the studio while they sang. Okay by me. They were both so sweet it was like hanging out with your older sister. And both unbelievably talented and professional. I started working with great vocalists with Jeanie Stahl –and I wouldn’t mind ending like that — just not any time soon.

Photo by David Tucker

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One comment

  1. Dear Mason Daring: You look wonderful, and this interview was a delight to read. Your zest for life is an inspiration! Sending you good vibes —

    Dave Shacter’s Mom in Maine

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