The death of Nora Ephron is an immense loss to all who enjoyed romantic comedies, strong female perspectives and the written word. Her lengthy and accomplished career inspired a legion of wannabe Manhattanites, writers and seemingly "can do it all" superwomen. But her films contained memorable musical moments, too, serving to introduce younger audiences to Harry Nilsson or Carly Simon, and reveal the hidden voices of box office favorites like Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. In lieu of a full-blown film retrospective (that's on tap for later tonight) we've highlighted our favorite musical memories from Ephron's film catalog. We encourage you to enjoy, reflect and sing along.
"COMING AROUND AGAIN/ITSY BITSY SPIDER," HEARTBURN (1986)
Much of Carly Simon's score from Ephron's true to life film—based on her marriage to Carl Bernstein—was ultimately released as its own album in 1987, but her sweeping muses on regret almost always make me think of Meryl Streep's power pantsuits and billowy tops worn while walking the runway before flights between New York and Washington, DC.
"THE SURREY WITH A FRINGE ON TOP," WHEN HARRY MET SALLY... (1989)
The Oklahoma! staple is the go-to karaoke song of Harry (Billy Crystal) when he needs to cheer up a recently re-heartbroken Sally (Meg Ryan). His determination to make her smile, and the revelation that she's utterly tone deaf when she finally does come around, as well as the machine's reappearance later in the film, makes this duet more memorable than any stage version.
"IT HAD TO BE YOU," WHEN HARRY MET SALLY... (1989)
Frank Sinatra provides the score to Harry's "aha!" moment, when realizing that Sally, with all her quirks and hang-ups, truly is the love of his life. His patient, slow-burning take on the song counteracts Harry's need for immediacy, as he desperately tries to escape speeding cabs and drunk partygoers on New Year's Eve night in New York City. He'll risk his life, though, because, "when you realize wanna spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." We also welcome your thoughts on the true meaning of "Auld Lang Syne."
"SLEIGH RIDE," SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (1993)
A late-night drive to Baltimore ultimately introduces Annie (Meg Ryan) to heartbroken widower, Sam (Tom Hanks), and his proactive son Jonah (Ross Malinger), who hopes Santa will bring him a new wife for his dad and a new mom by Christmas morning. But first! An energetic, solo holiday sing-along establishes that the conflicted writer could only settle down with someone who shares her love of horses, horses, horses, horses.
"DREAMS," YOU'VE GOT MAIL (1998)
A quintessential New York Ephron movie for the '90s—or any year, really—opens with real life strangers-cum-email confidantes Joe (Tom Hanks) and Kathleen (Meg Ryan) sharing the same invigorating walk through the city's Upper West Side. Set to the "Dreams" by The Cranberries, it's more a portrait of a neighborhood, the intoxicating smells of freshly sharpened pencils in fall and the truly small town feel the city can have.
"OVER THE RAINBOW," YOU'VE GOT MAIL (1998)
Riverside Park at peak bloom, a cute dog named Brinkley and Harry Nilsson's version of "Over the Rainbow" brings the updated version of Shop Around The Corner to a triumphant, heart-swelling close. Nilsson's voice so matches the early spring setting and stifled mixture of both shock and relief once Tom Hanks appears around the bend, that I'm almost too always emotional to receite "I wanted it to be you, I wanted it to be you so badly." Almost.
"PSYCHO KILLER," JULIE & JULIA (2009)
The Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" gets reworked into an original song by saint of a husband Eric Powell (Chris Messina), in order to commemorate the night his French Chef-worshipping wife (Amy Adams) finally crossed crustaceans off her year-long cooking list.
Have your own favorite musical moment from a Nora Ephron film? Share it in the comments below.