Happy Birthday, John Williams!
It’s John Williams‘ birthday today.
He was the first composer whose name and work I recognized – and who wasn’t dead. He benefited, of course, from having his name attached to Star Wars, which, when I was a kid, made just about anything interesting.
Back in 2010, Rob Wainfur of The Bearded Trio website asked if I’d be interested in writing a guest post, so I contributed a piece exploring some of John Williams’ lesser-known musical creations. Here’s an excerpt:
It turns out, for instance, that Williams’ music was tucked into corners of my brain long before I knew it, thanks to three classic 1970s disaster movies: The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, and Earthquake. I really have only the vaguest recollections of these – I think I had an ear infection or something when my parents went to see Earthquake (in Sensurround!), and I don’t know if I saw the other two in the theatre or on television, though both left impressions on me. That Towering Inferno scene where Jennifer Jones’ character falls from the elevator on the outside of the building scared the bejeezus outta me, and come on: what little kid wouldn’t love a movie where a giant ship turns upside-down?
A few years later, Star Wars had turned me into a space-adventure nut, and for a time, one of our local TV stations aired Lost In Space reruns every weekday in the after-school hours. I wouldn’t learn until decades later that the show’s theme was another creation of John (then credited as “Johnny”) Williams. Of the two versions he composed during the show’s run, I prefer the original since it’s the one I most associate with sitting on the floor with a snack and looking up at the television, though the fuller composition for Season 3 in 1968 sounds much more like the John Williams signature works to come in the next decade.
I had a lot of fun writing this. check out the whole thing – which also goes on to reveal my all-time favorite piece of Star Wars music - at The Bearded Trio.