Listen: Sigur Rós’s Jónsi and Cameron Crowe’s ‘Gathering Stories’ from ‘Zoo’

Though Jónsi’s music, both as part of Sigur Rós and on his beautiful solo album,”Go,”  have luscious cinematic elements, his work on Cameron Crowe”s “We Bought A Zoo” marks the first time the Icelandic artist has composed music specifically for a theatrical release.

In addition to scoring the film, Jónsi also wrote two new songs for the movie, including “Gathering Stories,” which he co-wrote with Crowe. While “Zoo” is the first collaboration between the two, Crowe licensed three Sigur Rós tunes for 2001’s “Vanilla Sky.” “Gathering Stories” premiered on NPR today. Hear it here.

From the first few bars, the song takes flight on a soaring, magical journey.  The lyrics address longing to be part of something and “gathering stories” that belong specifically to person living them. There”s a swirling feel as bells, strings, drums and toy pianos blend with Jónsi”s special, quirky brand of pixie dust to  concoct their own, insular world.

Though Crowe didn”t ask Jónsi to score the movie until the end of shooting, as Crowe wrote in notes from the “We Bought A Zoo” soundtrack, out Dec. 13, Jónsi”s music was part of the “DNA” of the film:

“Both with Sigur Rós, and in his solo work, Jónsi has always made music that captured the human adventure,” Crowe writes. “Early on, it was obvious that this music would have a profound effect on the making of ‘We Bought A Zoo.” In preparation for making the movie, we gave all the actors and crew members a copy of Sigur Rós transcendent documentary, ‘Heima,” (Icelandic for ‘home”). We all watched the film and listened to the music, and it quickly seeped into our own journey in filming the real-life story of Benjamin Mee’s book.”

Mee”s book chronicles his family”s adventure after a widower, played by Matt Damon in the film, purchases an old zoo in the countryside and moves his family there to renovate it.

I interviewed Crowe and Jónsi about working together on “Zoo” for a piece for Variety that comes out later this week. I”ll link to that article and write about my experience of interviewing the two when it comes out. I”ve also heard the main theme that was the first piece that Jónsi wrote for the film. Built around a melody played on a glockenspiel, it is mystical, childlike and tremendously moving with that otherworldly, yet totally embraceable, feel that Jónsi”s music often possesses.

“We Bought A Zoo” opens Dec. 23 from Twentieth Century Fox.

What do you think of “Gathering Stories?”