"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Tune Maker of Star Wars

I know the story that goes something like this:

The early cuts of the original Star Wars film did not look good and did not play well. The movie seemed bad until they added in John Williams's original score. The music made all the difference in the film's success.

I also know the story John Williams told where George Lucas had planned to use existing symphonic music like Holst's The Planets to score the film. In this story, John Williams had to persuade Lucas to use an original score. Frightening to imagine we almost never got to hear Williams's original--now classic--themes. But there is another story...

John Williams at the Hollywood Bowl, Credit Alec McNayr
Creative Commons License (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In a different version of history, Lucas says he always intended for there to be an original score. The only persuasion came in the form of Steven Spielberg recommending Lucas hire John Williams. Just so long as we got the original score, I care less which version is most accurate.

However, not until viewing a short video published on the official Star Wars YouTube channel did I learn a new fascinating detail. Williams prefers not to read the script before seeing the film. He wants to experience it as much as possible the way the audience will. This enables him to score a movie with a first-time audience in mind.

Here is his explanation. YouTube does not allow embedding of this video, so please follow the below link. What a delight to listen to the composer share his deep connection to Star Wars!

Thomas Gray Mingles with Jedi Lore

For those of you who haven't yet read it, I recently posted a new elegy which adapts a classic British poem into new verse for Star Wars. Accompanied by original artwork, this poem is my way of celebrating this wonderful franchise, and all the memories and daydreams it has made possible. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Images from a Big Two-Hearted Road Trip

I took an overdue road trip for Halloween weekend, with several stops Up North in Michigan. From early Saturday morning until Sunday evening I managed about 1,000 miles. If Monday had stayed away, I would have kept going. 

There is much I am trying to write about this trip. Hopefully some of my journey will end up in stories. I lucked out and scored the following image before crossing back over the Mackinac Bridge on Sunday afternoon. Would you believe I did not even notice the cloud formation until I had already pulled over?

I also finally saw Tahquamenon Falls up close. The Upper Peninsula is incredibly photogenic, even for smart phones negotiating so-so lighting. 

Like most of my road trips in adulthood, I took this one solo. I was not entirely alone though. It has become a personal tradition of mine to borrow the library's copy of Ernest Hemingway's Nick Adams Stories as read by actor Stacy Keach. This is easily my favorite audio book. Listened to while driving the same ground as Hemingway and his protagonist trod makes the experience hypnotic. I highly recommend it!

The below early evening image of the Straits of Mackinac as seen from Mackinaw City may not be the most exciting shot. Nevertheless, it best sums up the mood and rewards of my Big Two-Hearted Road Trip: solitary, drizzly, ponderous, a bit lonely, but blessed with beautiful scenery. I am fortunate to have wound up in this state. Michigan has truly become my Michigan.