Mancina opted for a more orchestral sound in the new score. 'It comes from an earthy direction, so there's a lot of orchestral percussion, French horn, strings and woodwinds,' he says. 'There is added texture from other types of instruments, but the heart of the score is an orchestra.' The melodic score was recorded with a 90-piece orchestra. For Dusty's training montage, filmmakers agreed it called for a bold acoustic piano that would stand out from the orchestra. Says Mancina, 'We were lucky enough to have Bruce Hornsby play piano on the score, which brought a completely different color and a much more mature feel to the score.'
Hornsby, a multiple Grammy-winning artist, also played a special cue that can be heard near the end of the film, supporting the serious and emotional tone filmmakers sought.
Brad Paisley performs two new songs for the film, including 'Runway Romance,' which was written by director Bobs Gannaway and Danny Jacob, and 'All In,' a song Paisley signed on to write and perform after hearing of the film's firefighting themes. 'My father's a firefighter,' says Paisley. 'He was my whole life. And my brother-in-law and several family members are firefighters. I was really honored to pay tribute to them. I sat down after seeing a rough cut of the movie and it came to me very quickly.
'My dad was president of the volunteer fire department, which was walking distance from our house,' continues Paisley. 'I spent several days of each week there with him any time the whistle blew, he went. It was truly inspiring to watch him lead that way. It's a strange and wonderful mentality that these people have. They get so excited about that opportunity to help. My favorite line in the song is, 'Where there's smoke and flames, and everybody needs out, I'm all in.''
Paisley also lends his voice in a cameo appearance as a pickup truck in Honkers Sports Bar.
Newcomer/singer/songwriter Spencer Lee performs 'Still I Fly,' a song he co-composed with his writing partners Windy Wagner and Michael 'Smidi' Smith. 'Still I Fly' can be heard when Dusty, after discovering that he may never race again, leaves Propwash Junction en route to Piston Peak to train as an aerial firefighter.