BIOGRAPHY

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ACCLAIMED FILM MUSIC EDITOR CURT SOBEL RETURNS TO HIS SONGWRITING ROOTS


A garage clean-out leads to a revisiting of songs from his past. STAGES, his first release,comes out Nov. 9 Amid the clutter in countless garages, attics and basements, there are stories about lives once lived, paths not taken and relics that have faded from memory. Fortunately for Curt Sobel, his story was caught on tape.

Decades before Curt became one of Hollywood’s most in-demand music editors and an Emmy-winning composer, he wrote songs. In the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, during and after his years at the University of Michigan and studying conducting, arranging and composition at Berklee College of Music, Curt took a shot at writing and recording his own songs. 

His successful career — music editing more than 130 films on hits such as “Risky Business”, “The Bourne Ultimatum”, “The Insider”, “The Revenant” and composing scores for “Alien Nation” and “The Young Indiana Jones Transylvania” among others — put songwriting and performing on hold. 

During a recent garage clean-out, however, he unearthed that earlier chapter, discovering cassettes and quarter-inch tapes recorded when a singer backed by just his guitar was enough to capture the interest of the public. He imported the recordings into ProTools and worked to sweeten some and record others anew, dust and humidity having taken a toll on his early efforts. The result is STAGES, a compilation of these recordings. It’s being released digitally Nov. 9 and on vinyl soon after. 

Since the writing of the songs that appear on STAGES, Curt has worked with a who’s who of directors—Kathryn Bigelow, Michael Mann, Taylor Hackford, Rob Marshall and Barry Levinson to name a few —and top film composers—Thomas Newman, Dave Grusin, Harry Gregson Williams, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard, among many others. 

His work is heard in such music-heavy films as “Detroit”, “An Officer and a Gentleman”, “La Bamba”, “Speed”, “Under the Cherry Moon”, “Chuck Berry’s Hail! Hail! Rock n’ Roll”, “Nine”, “Get On Up” and “Ray”, for which he also served as the film’s Music Supervisor.

He has worked alongside Prince, Mick Jagger, Santana, Los Lobos, Keith Richards, Blue Man Group, Jamie Foxx, Ray Charles — the list goes on… 

He won his Best Original Song Emmy for “Why Do I Lie” (lyrics by Dennis Spiegel), from HBO’s “Cast a Deadly Spell,” and recently co-wrote the theme song for the upcoming film remake of “Benji” with Oscar-nominated Stephen Bishop. 

A native of Oak Park, Mich., he first tasted success when his senior class song beat out The Beatles “Let It Be.” Today, he is a member of the Recording Academy and serves on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Music Branch Executive Committee.

Phil Gallo, Music Journalist