Video Games are Beautiful: Flying Man (MOTHER OST)

2 Jul

Every week, we’ll take a look at an example of how video games can inspire or result in something beautiful. Feel free to simply enjoy each example by itself, or continue reading for more information on how video games are beautiful.

This week’s example:

♫ Louis Philippe — Flying Man (from the MOTHER OST) ♫

Louis Philippe in a 1986 promotional shot.

“Flying Man” is the theme of the bird-like men (of the same name) found in MOTHER , a role-playing game for the Famicom. Nintendo translated the game, but it was never officially released outside of Japan. The translated version is available as a rom known as EarthBound Zero, in reference to how MOTHER 2 was translated and released in North America as EarthBound.

The Flying Men exist in both games as courageous fighters who assist the player in the dreamlike world of Magicant. Unlike other members of the player’s party, when a Flying Man falls in battle, he is gone forever. This concept of fleeting life is reflected in the song’s lyrics, recorded by Louis Philippe in the first game’s soundtrack, MOTHER OST:

Flying Man as he appears in MOTHER 2/EarthBound.

Life is but a moment,

A single grain of sand

That slips right through the hour glass

And slips right through your hand.

You showed me how

To make each moment count.

And I know now

What life is all about.

While Philippe’s “Flying Man” track made it to MOTHER‘s soundtrack, the song is not found anywhere within the game itself, not even in the house where the player encounters the Flying Man characters. A version plays in a similar location in MOTHER 2, however:

The song can also be heard as a dirge in MOTHER 2‘s game over music, reflecting the sad nature of the Flying Man:

Philippe was asked to contribute to the track by one of MOTHER‘s composers, Keiichi Suzuki.

“‘Flying Man’ is a track that I recorded a long, long time ago with Keiichi Suzuki, one of the greatest Japanese musicians of his generation,” Philippe said. “Keiichi recorded most of the track by himself; I just popped in to warble on top of his extremely witty arrangement, which has got a great Brian Wilson-ish coda (probably the highest notes I’ve ever hit whilst not dropping a hammer on my foot).”

He went into more detail on his website’s forum:

I was approached by my friend Keiichi Suzuki (he of the Moonriders) to help out on the music he’d written for this game; as you aficionados already know, it was superb stuff, and I was delighted to join in, especially as our recording budget ( I first wrote ‘bidget’ and corrected it – then thought: actually ‘bidget’ rhymes with ‘midget’, and probably describes my financial status more accurately, most of the time – but let us move on, matron), especially as our recording budget, I was saying, was quite handsome.

K and I swooped into Peter Gabriel’s Real World studio near Bath, and had tremendous fun for an afternoon or so. The backing track had been laid back in Tokyo, complete with ukeleles and twanging elastic bands; all I had to do was to grab my faithful Lolita (that’s my guitar) and work out a vocal coda with Keiichi – the highlight of the session and, I believe, of this excellent track. Much of it was improvised, in a ‘let’s pretend we’re recording ‘Holland’ sort of way’. Then Keiichi went his way, and I mine, both of us pretty pleased with a well-spent afternoon.

Several other songs from MOTHER were given vocal arrangements on the soundtrack, all of them in English.

Go to Starmen.Net and EarthBound Central for more information on the MOTHER series.

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5 Responses to “Video Games are Beautiful: Flying Man (MOTHER OST)”

  1. neonix July 11, 2010 at 12:30 AM #

    Great post! I saw this featured on EBCentral, so I thought I’d give a shout here too. The MOTHER soundtrack is great, as are its two sequels and the related games of course!

    • Chas Guidry July 11, 2010 at 12:38 AM #

      Thans, Neo. And like I said over at EBC, I agree there’s something special going on with MOTHER’s soundtrack. It really stands out, especially for an NES game.

      [Hey, when are you guys gonna’ finish your playthrough on Ustream? The first half was a lot of fun to watch and discuss.]

  2. Labrynian Rebel July 11, 2010 at 10:01 PM #

    The begining of pollyana is so catchy!

  3. genoboost July 16, 2010 at 5:06 AM #

    Very good post! I love this track and am glad to get a little more info about it!

  4. Aaron (@OKeijiDragon) June 30, 2012 at 5:03 PM #

    Great article with great quotes!

    I’m gonna say it right now. MOTHER (EarthBound NES) for Famicom probably has the greatest Nintendo soundtrack that never left Japan.

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