Why is John Williams’ Star Wars: A New Hope (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
It opens the floodgate of memories from my Star Wars-obsessed childhood, and that’s just for starters.
What does Star Wars: A New Hope (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
There is so much incredible music that has been produced for the (ever expansive, it seems) Star Wars universe over the decades, but the soundtrack for A New Hope (Episode IV, let’s remember!) is the one that helped start it all and includes enough truly iconic sequences and songs to make it the most worthy of inclusion in the best 1,000 albums ever project.
The “Main Title” sequence is simply one of the most famous, rousing, and beautiful movie themes in film history. It’s Mount Rushmore-worthy and alone deserves as much celebration as it can get. When I hear it, I immediately think about Star Wars, I think about space stuff generally, and it reminds me of being a kid in an air conditioned theater on a hot day and being excited as hell to watch the movie that’s about to go down. Much more on childhood memories associated with the Star Wars universe below.
John Williams is an absolute master at ratcheting up the excitement and intensity level by way of music, and the 12 minute sequence captured by “The Last Battle” is an extraordinary example of just that.
“Cantina Band” is one of my favorite oddball instrumental songs of all time, and that’s not even counting how perfect it is in accompanying the underworld of Tatooine in A New Hope. So many subsequent movies and TV shows (some of them Star Wars-related!) have tried to recapture this vibe and most have failed.
I need to “cheat” a little bit here and include a few other of my absolute all time favorite pieces that John Williams composed for Star Wars movies.
Here’s the outstanding “Duel of the Fates,” perhaps the very best thing about the otherwise atrocious (Episode I!) The Phantom Menace.
And possibly my favorite single piece of them all: “The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme), from The Empire Strikes Back soundtrack. It’s so good that that overall soundtrack vied closely with A New Hope for inclusion on the best 1,000 albums ever list.
Personal stuff that’s somehow related to Star Wars: A New Hope (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
This soundtrack brings back so many memories from my childhood. A quick roundup:
- Playing with Star Wars action figures. Pre-Internet, pre video streaming, and even pre-cable TV in my very early childhood(!), action figures were big time doings. And if someone in the neighborhood had the Millennium Falcon, that was really big doings. At some point, I received the Death Star kit of some sort as a gift. You could make Luke and Leia zip line over an open area to escape the storm troopers, and then there was a trash compactor with a creepy snake-like monster in it and foam parts to emulate the garbage in there.
- Star Wars was a really big deal in the early 1980s. I was but a young baby boy when A New Hope came out, but I have clear memories of the hoopla surrounding the theatrical release of Return of the Jedi (Episode VI!). There were tremendously long lines at movie theaters everywhere for weeks. A few (two or three?) years later, I recall Jedi getting released on VHS, which was a huge, huge deal in of itself. You could actually watch it whenever you wanted to… or at least until it was due back at Blockbuster Video.
- Taping VHS tapes onto your own home copy. While technically illegal (remember the “FBI warning” at the beginning of VHS tape recordings?), everyone did this. I recall my friends and I laughing ourselves silly by pausing a made-for-TV movie about the Ewoks and inserting all kinds of at-the-time hilarious commentary.
- Star Wars-centric youth culture. Conversations easily dovetailed in and out of Star Wars references and quotes. The same is true to a lesser extent of movies like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and later it would be Reservoir Dogs and especially Goodfellas. Additionally, it’s hard to understate how much I loved Kevin Smith’s brilliant first movie, Clerks, which was the first movie or TV show I ever saw that so expertly reflected the pre-Internet generation of the 1980s that all had similar siloed obsessions with Star Wars and other iconic pop culture offerings. Clerks is also delightfully filthy and hilarious and expertly written, which helps.
- (Very) late apologies to my sister. I’m pretty sure I saw The Empire Strikes Back in the theater and then immediately told my sister the real deal with Luke and Darth Vader (I won’t spoil that “deal” for any kids reading this who have not yet experienced Episode V as yet!). Sorry, Lisa!
Some stats & info about Star Wars: A New Hope (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Movie Soundtracks, Classical Music
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
- When was Star Wars: A New Hope (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) released? 1977
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #693 out of 1,000
Star Wars: A New Hope (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.