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EricTrooper

Williams, John Williams

Posted on 2008.04.21 at 18:49
Current Location: 75409
Current Music: Barry - The Black Hole
Tags: , ,
Doing what I said could never be done (and still managing to miss quite a bit, I'm sure) I decided to catalog my music this weekend after moving my media out of the bedroom. At over 2000 physical CD's just writing them down was laborious, not to mention arranging them by genre (and, in cases of my classical music by label) then alphabetically and typing everything up....well, exhausting. I spent two days doing this. Separating my musicals from my soundtracks from my scores first, and only then deciding to add what I have in iTunes.

*sigh*

At 80GB of songs, most of them scores, that genre is my lowest ratio, physical vs. digital, sitting at about 1:1. This turned out to be more time intensive than I ever wanted. And no, I didn't want to export my iTunes database into XML, import it into a spreadsheet and reformat it. Bah! So what will likely be a GRAND LIST will ultimately never be updated and shortly after its publication, languish in obscurity forever.

But that's nothing. When I was in Germany in 1990, I met a man who had THREE-THOUSAND COMPACT DISCS - all of them soundtracks. IN NINETEEN-NINETY! That's crazy to think about!

Then there's John Williams.

When I was but a boy in shortpants, there were only two film composes I knew: John Barry, and John Williams.

And Mr. Williams brought the world Star Wars.

In 1977 I saw Star Wars an unprecedented (even today) NINE TIMES in the theater and we stood in line to purchase the double-LP at the music store. It was all black, with a barely visible shadow of Darth Vader's helmet on it. It opened up between the two records to show stills from the film. Luke Skywalker was my hero, and John Williams made him come to life more than Mark Hamill ever did. My father had one of those "Reader's Digest" stereo systems back in the day that he ran his 4-track through. So when the entire soundtrack was simulcast in Dallas for the uninterrupted network television premiere, he recorded that as well. Just listening to Vader breath in stereo in a day when movies weren't yet being released on media. The man could do no wrong.

I "ooohed" and "aaahed" in all the right places with Close Encounters, Superman was a mighty step back in the right direction (and gives me goosebumps even today) but my attention was caught once again with Raiders of the Lost Ark! That wonderful Williams sound. I remember it like it was yesterday - the thrill that ran through the theater. Wow.

Then the dry spell.

He was busy with other things, I was busy with other things.

Ten years of...well, nothing notable that made an impact on me.

In 1993 I was TDY to MacDill Air Force Base supporting USCENTCOM, and voraciously reading, and watching movies at the high-end Hyde Park theater, as U.S. Servicemen could get a ticket any time of the day for $2. This particular week, I'd seen a lot of Jurassic Park plushies and lunchboxes at the mall. Must be a new kids movie out I thought. I JUST ABOUT SHIT MYSELF WHEN THAT T-REX RAISED HIS HEAD AND SCREAMED THE FIRST TIME!

The next day I made a beeline to the mall, bought the cassette and listened to it over and over and over. I put the CAV version laserdisc on 6-month pre-order, sent the cassette to my father when I bought the CD (he blew out his speakers with the first track) and hosted a Jurassic Park viewing party when I returned home from Saudi (thanks to photogoot for picking it up for me while I was overseas).

Dual of the Fates was the next item which impressed me as he reprised his role in the Star Wars franchise, but the opening strains of Harry Potter once again confirmed for me that he still had it, and why I've always loved this man. The way he can make me feel a certain emotion, with just his mind, is amazing.

Sure there's a string of dull compositions in-between that I just cannot sink my teeth into, and though I cannot wax intelligent on this matter like swashbuckler332, no name in film music, I bet, is known to those outside its fanbase, than John Williams. I've pre-ordered Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at amazon.com for an amazing price of $9.99 and I fully expect to be blown away, once again.



Comments:


galinda822 at 2008-04-22 01:50 (UTC) (Link)
I love your passion!

btw..The Black Hole was one of my favorite movies as a kid.
Never paid attention to the soundtrack though.
ehowton
ehowton at 2008-04-22 01:57 (UTC) (Link)
It may be better than the movie! We also had that soundtrack on record growing up.
Tomas Gallucci
schpydurx at 2008-04-22 01:54 (UTC) (Link)
I decided to catalog my music this weekend.
What a daunting task! I can't wait to see this list.

Ten years of...well, nothing notable that made an impact on me.
You know how I feel about John. It's not that I don't like him or his work, it's just that it's so mundane and commonplace. Upon my initial reading I thought about William's work and not one score stood out to me. Slowly, they came back. Yes, Indiana Jones was an iconic score, but it's not one that i get excited about unless I'm watching the movie. I didn't think of Jaws until after our conversation, but you're right, the score to Jaws changed the world.

I then thought about the rest of his work and it all seems the same to me. But then I remember Catch Me if you Can and Schindler's List. Though I can only speak to the title track of the former, the later I know I have listened too a few times (but can't recall any melodies.) Oddly enough, Hook is one of my more favorite Williams moments and yet I have to be in the right mood to listen to that score.

Oddly enough, save for the initial tracks of both albums, I throughly enjoy Episode I and II scores. I used to listen to them while I was putting together puzzles or reading when I was still at home with the folks. I have more fond memories of those scores then I think I do of any of the rest of his work, but I don't get excited when I hear it. I think I prefer his Olympic peace to his scores quiet honestly.

no name in film music, I bet, is known to those outside its fanbase, than John Williams.
Again, per our conversation, I want to challenge this notion.

My first thought was that Hans Zimmer was more known outside of the industry, but then I suppose that depends on what you are calling industry. I think that Zimmer's work is more well known as he as done over 100 films. Both his compositions and the films that he has worked on have been very diverse. It seems of late that there are very few composers that don't have writer's block and thus rework their previous scores and Zimmer has not been altogether innocent of this. Gladiator's waltz became Pirates of the Caribbean; Batman Begins became Da Vinci Code, yet on the whole I think that Zimmer's work is very diverse compared to that of his colleagues. (i.e. James Honer).

But then I thought about it some more and thought that perhaps Danny Elfman's name might be more known then either of the two afore mentioned gentlemen. After all, Elfman had his own band Oingo Boingo and thanks to Tim Burton Elfman's work is very well known. I do, however, feel that perhaps his name and reputation are more common place then his music, but I think that people would more readily listen to an Elman score then a Williams score as Elfman is more Romantic.

On the one end of the scale, Elfman's work takes us on the most introspective journey and brings us to our common denominator making us wonder who we are, why we are here and where we are going. Edward Scissorhands, The Family Man and Big Fish are perfect examples of this. On the other end of the scale, Elfman brings us sheer energy and drive. Such scores as Batman and Spiderman are offered as proof.

I would argue, however, that Micheal Kamen's work though not as popular or paraded has been more more important to the industry then that of Williams and is too often under appreciated.
ehowton
ehowton at 2008-04-22 02:17 (UTC) (Link)
You know how I feel about John.
Yes, you think him a dullard - a man of no accomplishments.

...it's just that it's so mundane and commonplace.
It wasn't when it was brand new; hearing it for the first time.

Upon my initial reading I thought about William's work and not one score stood out to me.
Likely because you weren't born when a lot of his stuff was new.

But then I remember...
I own Hook on CD. Have had it for years. I couldn't hum tune one from it (though I do remember it being catchy). The others? Gah! Just because they have your boy Qui-Gon & Hanks in them doesn't make them good scores dude. You have to sometimes separate the score from the movie.

Oddly enough, save for the initial tracks of both albums,
The iconic Star Wars "Main Title?" Trust me - had you been in the theater in 1977, you would feel like everyone else on this planet that didn't grow up watching Barney before your introduction to Star Wars.

I think I prefer his Olympic peace to his scores quiet honestly.
Your use of the wrong word is especially ironic given the riots surrounding the event this year.

I think that Zimmer's work is more well known as he as done over 100 films.
100 suck films doesn't hold a candle to one fantastic film. Until about three years ago I'd never heard of the man. AND I'VE BEEN LISTENING TO FILM SCORES SINCE I WAS A CHILD. Maybe that's cause he sucks?

I think that Zimmer's work is very diverse compared to that of his colleagues.
I do not. I think most of his stuff is lame. ALTHOUGH...I've really been enjoying his later stuff.

But then I thought about it some more and thought that perhaps Danny Elfman's name might be more known then either of the two afore mentioned gentlemen.
Maybe, but I wonder if this would be a generational distinction? I was on the phone with Sun Microsystems Tech Support once and the gentleman on the other end of the line introduced himself as Edward Norton. "Like the actor." I mentinoed.
"You must be under 35." He said.
"How'd you figure" I asked.
"The over 35 crowd always says, "Like the Honeymooners.""

Good point.
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332 at 2008-04-22 01:56 (UTC) (Link)
Only three thousand?
ehowton
ehowton at 2008-04-22 01:57 (UTC) (Link)
Hrumph! Seemed like a lot in 1990.
This Is Me, Ten Sticks
lehah at 2008-04-22 02:00 (UTC) (Link)
I have 3,000 CDs. Well, almost a third of that. Almost.

I saw the Indiana Jones picture and my first reaction was "HOLY SHIT HE HAS THIS CD ALREADY WHAT THE FUCK MAN HOW HOW HOW".

Edited at 2008-04-22 02:01 am (UTC)
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332 at 2008-04-22 02:09 (UTC) (Link)
Snicker.
Me
photogoot at 2008-04-22 03:33 (UTC) (Link)
I could listen to you tell stories all day.
ehowton
ehowton at 2008-04-22 13:01 (UTC) (Link)
Do you remember the inaugural showing? The bird went nuts, and starting flying around everyone's head - later it was commented that the viewing felt very "realistic" on the island because we had a real bird making real squawking sounds during its presentation?
irulan_amy at 2008-04-22 16:41 (UTC) (Link)
"At over 2000 physical CD's just writing them down was laborious, not to mention arranging them by genre (and, in cases of my classical music by label) then alphabetically and typing everything up"

Wow. Impressive. Want to come do my books and DVDs? :D It's got to be a good feeling to have that done though. At least it would be for an organizing nerd such as myself.

I appreciated movie scores previously, but you and schpydurx have really helped develop my liking for them.

And $9.99 for any CD is teh awesome. :D
Tomas Gallucci
schpydurx at 2008-04-22 16:49 (UTC) (Link)
I appreciated movie scores previously, but you and schpydurx have really helped develop my liking for them.
About that...sorry I've been slacking as of late. Please send me an email.
irulan_amy at 2008-04-22 16:43 (UTC) (Link)
By the way - what do you keep the 2,000 CDs in? Do you keep the jewel cases? (the inner organizing freak must know!)
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332 at 2008-04-22 19:20 (UTC) (Link)
I can't speak for anyone else, but I keep them in jewel cases; they take up an entire wall of my apartment.
JaceMan
jaceman at 2008-04-22 19:01 (UTC) (Link)
I'm resisting the urge to play editor with this entry. Do you have ANY idea how hard that is for me?

Anyway, will we be seeing the new "Indi" flick or simply enjoying the soundtrack?
drax0r
drax0r at 2008-04-22 21:04 (UTC) (Link)
Oh I'm going to see it. In the theater.

I'm excited.

~Eric on drax0r's laptop
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332 at 2008-04-23 22:22 (UTC) (Link)
One thing that Williams as a film composer has done more successfully than any other is create themes for cultural icons - whether iconic as a result of the project he was working on (Jaws, Star Wars, Indy, etc.) or they were icons that became irrevocably linked to Williams' music ever after (Superman, Harry Potter, etc.).

Part of the reason for this is that many of these movies (not Jaws, obviously) were series in which his thematic material was used in the sequels, thus furthering the associations, but there is also the simple fact that they fit. Williams' Superman theme became so rooted to that character that even Superman projects not related to that film series would use it to denote the character ('88 animated series, Smallville, The Goonies, etc.).

The achievement of Star Wars can not really be underestimated... this is a case where not one, not two, but three major themes from a film series have defined the sound of particular concepts for a generation. Luke's theme (hearing it with the title "Star Wars" rolling away into infinity used to mean something, damn it), the Force theme and, of course, the Imperial March, are all instantly recognizable to many of people who are often oblivious to film music. I'm not saying all of these people could instantly pick up the Rebel Fanfare or the Han/Leia love theme, but those three melodies are anchored into the public consciousness.

I finally finished putting your box together and mailed it today. Let me know when you get it.
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