April 21st, 2008


Williams, John Williams

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.


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.