In itself “Tubular Bells” isn’t spooky. It’s predominantly instrumental with occasional instrument introductions, so no scary lyrics to frighten anyone. But its role as the movie theme to 70’s horror film The Exorcist means it’ll send a shiver down the spine of many listeners.
The Exorcist is a story centred on a young girl who is possessed by demons and her mother arranging exorcisms to free her. The movie shocked audiences worldwide when it was released. Stories of cinema-goers fainting, vomiting, or walking out hit the headlines. They led to calls for the movie to be banned. Which in turn proved an excellent promotion for the film. And a boost for its theme tune too.
The Tubular Bells album by Mike Oldfield, from which the theme is taken, was released in 1973. Oldfield’s official website describes the album as "a journey through classical, jazz, folk, prog rock and electronica." The album suddenly surged in sales at the end of that year when the movie came out. Oldfield was still only 19 when he completed this huge piece of musical work, but his life changed completely with the album and the worldwide success that followed.
Introducing Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield
It’s also slightly scary to think that some people won't have heard of the movie, the album, or that theme extract. Tubular bells may sound to them like a slightly obscure type of instrument. It is after all some 50 years later now, with the anniversary of the album being celebrated by a rare set of live orchestral concerts, led by Robin Smith and officially endorsed by Oldfield. It'll be much less spooky without the movie of course!