Track One: One By One/Hey Man/One By One (Reprise)


ROUND ONE: 12 3456789
ROUND TWO: 12 3 45678 9

  • This song is made up of three major phases: One By One, Hey Man, and One By One (Reprise). The first part, One By One, plays over the entire opening, ending exactly as the scene transitions between Wendy and Danny having lunch and Bill Watson entering the interview.
  • One really cool moment during this is right as the camera’s zooming past the Beetle on Going-to-the-Sun Road. On the film’s proper soundtrack we’re hearing Wendy Carlos’ Dies Irae, and she put in these little subtle sounds like clock springs boinging out, and in One By One, there’s a very similar set of whirligig clock spring sounds, and just for 20 seconds, starting at the same moment. Listen to the song from 1:13-1:24 and watch the film from 1:24 (that’s counting the opening 14-second WB logo) to hear what I mean.
  • In the mirrorform, the first section of the track, One By One, goes from the end of the film to backward Danny just about to race from the heart of the maze for the exit. So, at the risk of stating the obvious, we’ve got the main theme for a racing documentary pairing perfectly with backward Danny’s final race from and forward Jack’s first race to the evil hotel.
  • Another cool thing here: the sound of sleigh bells kicks into gear right as we get this first clear image of the snowy hedge maze beside Jack as he’s stumbling to defeat.
  • There’s a funny thing where the sound of a shaking tambourine is interrupted by Ullman looking up and noticing Jack for the first time, kicking back into gear after Jack and Ullman start vigourously shaking hands.
  • There’s also a neat One By One By One By One effect created by Danny flashing his pointer finger over and over, as Tony speaks. Also, remembering that the Chevy Monza 2+2 appears right before the lunch scene, there’s a copy of Catch-22 right above Danny’s head, and Wendy is reading Catcher in the Rye. If “Monza” meant “catch” that would’ve been perfect. Unfortunately, Monza means nothing.
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  • Also, bearing in mind that we’ve got this speed racer music going on, it’s worth remembering that Danny’s watching a Roadrunner cartoon here, which is all about outracing the coyote. And Wendy sips from a Tom and Jerry mug, of course.
  • The music burbles to an abrupt finish just as backward Danny is stopped at the start of his race for the exit, and right as Watson enters the interview.
  • The transition to Hey Man starts with another funny handshake moment as right after Jack and Watson connect hands, the groove really finds its porno-soundtrack soul.
  • The first lyrics of Hey Man (which you can read here, courtesy of yours truly) play over the whole phase of Danny setting the trap, and Wendy encountering Death and Famine.
  • The opening lyrics deal with the addictive quality of speed racing (“This man’s world of speed/Hooked like jungle weed”), and these play over backward Jack screaming at being bested by Danny, like an addict screaming for a fix. But the line “But if you get home, well, a lot he could find” plays over the sequence of Jack approaching and discovering the dead-end-ing tracks. One of my leading theories about all the moon imagery in the film is that it deals with the homo sapiens urge to both strive beyond the fear of death into the future, and to return to the comforts of the womb. When Jack finds Danny’s vanishment, he thinks he’s lifted into the sky as if on some celestial ladder, so this “if you get home” line speaks to how Danny really will get home and Jack really won’t.
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  • “Hey man/Now what’s your game?/A wreath, a medal/Or a chain?” The “wreath” and “medal” lines appear over a terrified Danny waiting in the maze, while the bloodfall appears on “chain”. This refrain, which repeats five times in the song, strikes me as almost too perfect for several of Kubrick’s subtexts. The “wreath” sounds like a reference to Ceasar’s laurels. The “medal” reference goes sweetly with the Olympics and Herakles subtext. And the chain, appearing with the Death horsemen from the four horsemen analysis, speaks to the enslavement we feel about the nature of real death, an enslavement Jack desperately wants to bargain his way out of–in fact, that’s just what his interview seems to be about.
  • It might be worth pointing out that Ullman says “When the hotel was built in 1907 there was very little interest in winter sports” during all this existential talk of wreaths and medals.
  • “Oh, maybe there’s a challenge/In store for you” Plays as Wendy reacts to the bloodfall. Indeed, the four horsemen portals are quite the challenge.
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  • As we hear “A wreath, a medal/And a chain” for the second time, Jack, Watson, and Ullman are arranged in a gold, silver, bronze sort of presentation, which I’ve noted occurring elsewhere in the section called the Murder Awards.
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  • “Hey, why/Do you play with death?” As Ullman describes how “the winters can be fantastically cruel”, Wendy is approaching the bloodfall, which is Death in the four horsemen analysis.
  • “You and your/Four-wheel mate” Danny does a funny dance along to the music, but this reference to a “four-wheel mate” reminds of how Danny’s enacting the lessons his trike and Wendy taught him.
  • Also, that’s the #4 photo beside Jack’s head there.
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  • “Maybe there’s a challenge somewhere/In store for you” As Ullman talks about how “for some people solitude and…isolation…can…of itself, become a problem” Wendy is witnessing the skeleton ball, with its profound connection to Jack’s last sane moment in the film. Check below for the visual evidence that there’s two butler skeletons at the starting and ending point of Jack’s last sane stroll through the lobby. So the challenge in store for Jack is not to go crazy from solitude and isolation. But as he’ll assure Ullman in a moment, such things are no challenge for a mental titan such as he.
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  • As Hey Man transitions to instrumentalism, backwards Danny starts performing his race for the heart of the maze, and Wendy encounters War/Charles Grady. The lyrics come back as we see the first part of Danny’s race for the heart.
  • In fact, this interlude starts right before Ullman says, “Well…before I…turn you over to Bill…there’s one more thing…I think we should talk about…” and ends just as he’s transitioning from the details of the Grady story to the more general observation about what the police call “cabin fever”. In other words, the specifics of the Grady story are perfectly contained by the interlude. And besides the beautiful timing, there’s something replicated there in the way we the audience get sucked into a mental slowdown as those specifics begin to reveal themselves. We’re not going to be the caretakers, so we’re letting all the preamble to the Grady story wash over us, but when it comes to that story we begin to feel like this is what all our attention was being saved up for, this revelation. Similarly, Wendy’s witnessing Hallorann’s corpse, and the significance of the one ghost having one line to speak to Wendy, has a similar impact on us. What the heck does “Great party” mean, we wonder?
  • “Hey man/How do you really feel?” This is too complex for this analysis, probably, but in my analysis of the hotel’s photos I noticed something I call Ullman’s Eyes, which are the two photos that hang up to his left here. These photos become cropped out by the framing for three shots, and on this “How do you really feel?” they come back. So it’s almost like the music is abstracted from the action, commenting on Ullman’s fakeness.
  • Oh, there’s another reference to “four-wheel dreams” during this continuing shot of Ullman (actually he’s doing his, “Ugh, it’s hard for me to believe it actually happened here” line, in which he looks up and off, as if remembering a distant dream), and it plays over Danny running for his life, following the formula of his three-wheel lessons.
  • On the final “Maybe there’s a challenge somewhere/In store for you” Ullman is saying how “Obviously some people can be put off by the thought of staying alone in a place where something like that happened.” So this is the final challenge to Jack, and it makes me wonder if Kubrick saw this as part of what we might call The Minotaur Test: if you’re okay about staying alone in a murder house, then you might just be the sort of person primed to be twisted that way. If we zoom our lens out to the large-scale social implications: what does that say about any of us who are comfortable living on lands stolen from the murdered dead?
  • The switch to the final reprise happens right as the interview transitions to Danny talking to Tony in the bathroom, with the lesson key scrolling by his head. The final One By One (Reprise) therefore plays over the start of backward Danny getting ready to run into the maze. And this means that Hey Man perfectly avoided overlaying with forwards Danny and Wendy. So all the existential singing about what good does it do to be the best in the world at something, if getting there drives you crazy, falls upon forward Jack’s shoulders.
  • As discussed, the album appears in the film right as this song ends, but there’s also a novelty dishcloth or something hanging hear the kitchen sink, which exits the shot as East Wind appears, featuring the phrase “GOLF LIKE THE GREATS” naming Jack Nicklaus as one such great. It appears above a breakfast cereal called Dash. Nicklaus was often confused for Nicholson, given the similarity of their names (and Nicholson’s penchant for golf), so I’m guessing connecting our thoughts between Jack and a sports legend was no coincidence. I guess I might as well point out that Danny is also wearing a sports jersey-style shirt the entire first sequence.

Click here to continue on to Track Two: Black Flame