But here and now, I'm going to list off my ten favorite western soundtracks, and link to my favorite track on YouTube, plus I'll also link to my reviews on James' blog where applicable.
1. The Lone Ranger (2013) by Hans Zimmer. Please note that this is NOT the "music from and inspired by" album called The Lone Ranger: Wanted. This is the music actually used in the film, and it is delicious. The summer this movie came out, I listened to this soundtrack every single morning while making breakfast, then again every night as I worked on writing my first western YA novel. My favorite track is "Finale."
2. The Magnificent Seven (1960) by Elmer Bernstein. For reasons beyond my ken, the original motion picture soundtrack is not available on CD. However, there's a re-recording that was conducted by Bernstein himself, and that's quite yummy. My favorite track is, of course, the "Main Theme."
3. The Mask of Zorro (1998) by James Horner. One of the grandest soundtracks ever, sweeping and exuberant. My favorite track is "Zorro's Theme." My review of the album as a whole is here.
4. The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) by Elmer Bernstein. This is my favorite John Wayne movie, and oh, what wonderful music. Bernstein is hands-down my favorite western composer. My favorite track is also the "Main Theme" for this one.
5. Tombstone (1993) by Bruce Broughton. Wonderful, rousing music, but also a lot of pieces with a more modern flavor to them. My favorite track is "Looking at Heaven." Again, my album review is here.
6. The Quick and the Dead (1995) by Alan Silvestri. I just got this recently, and I've been listening to it endlessly while I write. It has a great spaghetti western flavor to it. My favorite track is probably "Redemption."
7. Giant (1956) by Dimitri Tiomkin. I grew up with this movie, and I used to whistle Jett Rink's theme all the time. My favorite track, though, is "The Yellow Rose of Texas." It's used as diagetic music during a fist fight toward the end of the movie, and I have loved it since I was a little girl.
8. Silverado (1985) by Bruce Broughton. I really love the "Main Title" theme. It gives you such a good idea of the movie's flavor, full of joyous energy and optimism.
9. Hour of the Gun (1967) by Jerry Goldsmith. Another recent acquisition, but I listened to it a ton while writing some Combat! fanfic earlier this year. My favorite track is probably the "Main Theme" because it's so dark and swaggering.
10. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) by Ennio Morricone. I love so many tracks on this one, and it's crazy long, but my favorite of all is "Ecstasy of Gold." My album review is here.
Really, this list is who's-who of the greatest western composers. Bernstein and Morricone and Goldsmith and Tiomkin are the old masters, and Broughton and Silvestri and Horner and Zimmer are the new. You can't go wrong with them.