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INTERVIEW


W.G. ‘Snuffy’ Walden


BY PAUL FUHR


Music in the key of nostalgia. From The Wonder Years to The West Wing to Friday Night Lights, W.G. ‘Snuffy’ Walden has crafted music for some of America’s most iconic television series. At once simple and soaring, Walden’s music sweetly captures youth, inspiration, and what it means to be American—in any era.


You’ve toured with Stevie Wonder, among other musicians. You observed: “I imagined myself at 60 playing Holiday Inn six nights a week and just didn’t really know what I was going to do.” Since you don’t have to worry about toiling in anonymity, have you ever been tempted to spend some time out on the road again as a touring musician—if only for a little bit? Actually, I worked with Stevie, but I never toured with him. I toured with Eric Burdon, Chaka Khan, and plenty of others. All that being said, I think of touring and playing out all the time. I’m even looking at putting a soul review band together as we speak. I’d love to play live again; I just need the time and motivation to get me going.


How did you first get involved with music for television? I was approached by an agent on new years eve of 1986 who told me “Ry Cooder has priced himself out of the business, and guitar scores are really in demand for movies. Would you be interested?” Beingparanoid of never working again as a musician, I said “Heck yes!” I went up for a few films, but I had no credits or even a


30


demo reel. I couldnt even get arrested until the show Thirtysomething took a chance on me.


You’ve scored some of the most iconic television series of all time and continue to be prolific. What aspects must a new series possess to attract you? I love character-driven drama. I just need to have a personal connection with the material or the show runner. Thats enough to get my motor running. You can always find something good if you’re looking for it.


How long does it take to establish the central themes or tone of a series? Does it all come together with the pilot? It’s different with every show. They each have their own personality. With The West Wing the main title theme came out of the third episiode. Generally speaking, the hardest development work is done on the pilot, but the music usually finds itself as the show does the same. Sometime it comes from the pilot, and sometimes it takes a few episodes to get in sync with the story, pacing, and the characters.


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