I don’t actually adore the film, “Love Actually.” But there is something cozy about its patchwork of stories, so that if I run across the movie on TV, I might pause to watch for a few minutes or even get pulled in to some of its tales of love in myriad forms: love thwarted, love unnoticed, love yet-to-be expressed, “what were you thinking?!” love, and, occasionally, love recognized and come to fruition at last.
I purchased this songbook mainly to get sheet music for that sorrowful arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” from the scene when Emma Thompson’s character opens a Christmas gift, expecting the box to contain a necklace she’d earlier found hidden in her husband’s coat pocket. But no! This package is the same size, but it only contains a Joni Mitchell CD. And this confirms her fears that her husband (played by Alan Rickman) bought the jewelry to give to another woman (his assistant, no less).
I adore Alan Rickman, but really! I feel a twinge of annoyance even looking at his character’s photo on the front cover of the songbook. Is he gazing admiringly at this seductive new assistant? And what about when his character sneers at his wife, “I can’t believe you still listen to Joni Mitchell”? Unlike Severus Snape, this particular incarnation of Rickman is nowhere near soulful enough to have a patronus.
The “selections from the box-office smash” in this collection include piano solo arrangements of Craig Armstrong’s three romantic motifs from the movie: “PM’s Love Theme,” “Glasgow Love Theme,” and “Portuguese Love Theme,” as well as music for other featured songs like Eva Cassidy’s cover of “Songbird,” Kelly Clarkson’s “The Trouble with Love Is,” and (of course) the much-derided “Billy Mack” single, “Christmas Is All Around.”
By the way, the version of “God Only Knows” in this collection is a vocal arrangement with the melody line separate, so if you’d like to conjure up the expansive, shimmering wonder of The Beach Boys classic, you can find piano solo arrangements on Musicnotes.
And if you really want to sink into a Joni Mitchell sobfest, grab a box of tissues and see how Brandi Carlile conjured up a magical, emotional version of “River” at the 2021 Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Joni Mitchell, followed by Brittany Howard and Herbie Hancock’s performance of “Both Sides Now.”
Where to find it:
“Love Actually: The Original Soundtrack” (arranged for piano, vocal, and guitar)
SONGBOOK: songbook available for purchase at Musicroom (UK), Amazon, and Hal Leonard.
Publisher: Wise Publications
Status (2022): In Print
DIGITAL DOWNLOADS: Find individual songs from the Love Actually soundtrack available for purchase as digital downloads at MusicNotes.com (including additional arrangements of the movie’s love themes).