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Rose Dawson

Bizarre James Horner podcast interview

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Okay, everyone. I know that you all think I'm crazy, but I know I'm not crazy when it comes to this. A couple years back, before Horner passed on (God rest his soul, we all love and miss you, the Horner will go, we'll never let go, he's really not dead as long as we remember him, Amazing Grace etc.), there was a really weird lengthy podcast interview posted. He seemed to forget Jerry Goldsmith and piss on his score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which didn't make any sense considering previous interviews with him. After he died, the interview vanished from the internet. First, I need confirmation it actually happened. Then, I need the interview itself. Please.

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55 minutes ago, Rose Dawson said:

Okay, everyone. I know that you all think I'm crazy, but I know I'm not crazy when it comes to this. A couple years back, before Horner passed on (God rest his soul, we all love and miss you, the Horner will go, we'll never let go, he's really not dead as long as we remember him, Amazing Grace etc.), there was a really weird lengthy podcast interview posted. He seemed to forget Jerry Goldsmith and piss on his score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which didn't make any sense considering previous interviews with him. After he died, the interview vanished from the internet. First, I need confirmation it actually happened. Then, I need the interview itself. Please.

It happened, but I don't think it was a "podcast," or at least it happened before that was a word.  I can't find it, but I believe it was a printed interview around the time the Zorro sequel was released, and he made a number of really condescending remarks about Goldsmith, and John Barry as well.

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Perfectly understandable from Horner's viewpoint: Goldsmith composed a bright optimistic march for the future, Horner considered his emotional string theme for Spock/Kirk the best answer to the movie's underlying themes. He just wasn't a fan of bright marches. Also, Horner elaborated later that he loved the more mysterious stuff in either 'Alien' and 'TPM'.

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Horner dated Goldsmith's daughter when in high school.  Since Goldsmith was a famous and established composer already, I'm sure he knew Goldsmith from the time of his youth.  But based on what I've understood about him as a teen, he believed himself destined for the concert stage and probably looked down a lowly film composers like Goldsmith.  I know two people who knew him as a teen before his fame and stories are not flattering though they both consider themselves fans of his music and were very sad at his death. 

 

The way I see his dismissiveness of Goldsmith is more in terms of Horner thought very highly of his own skills and talents and didn't particularly marvel at the works of others. 

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But...but...not John Williams right?

3 minutes ago, crocodile said:

You know... artists, especially composers, tend to be cunts anyway. In a way you have to be if you aim high.

 

Karol

 

To be honest this is a permissive stereotype that should be retired.

 

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For once, I agree with stiff.  Part of the tragedy of the Horner story is that he seemed to be in a good place in his life when he died.   He mellowed a bit in his rough personality and these days you really have to have some decent people skills to stay employed. 

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4 minutes ago, Stefancos said:

But...but...not John Williams right?

 

To be honest this is a permissive stereotype that should be retired.

 

Maybe. But it doesn't change the fact many, if not most, famous composers in the history of music were not a particularly nice people.

 

Karol

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And loads of people with no talent whatsoever are horrible twats too. I don't think there's any correlation!

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But is that change defined by their talent?

 

It's like someone acting like complete cunt, but it's ok...he's got a bit of Aspergers.

 

 

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Intelligent people get into positions of power or influence faster, and having a shitty character helps dealing with competition.

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Yeah, pretty much exactly what I mean.

 

Speaking of John Williams, I wonder what he had to sacrifice to be this successful. Wonder what it's like to be his kid.

 

Karol

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Was he? I don't know anything about that. But I'm just wondering the other week what his family life must be like. John's work requires him to spend so much of his life away from others. It must be tough to balance it all out.

 

Karol

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Joseph Williams was on drugs when he was in Toto. I believe its why he was fired from the band.

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Horner was, by all accounts, the biggest prick of them all. But as rightly stated, he became much more mellow and wistful in the last 10 years, and i guess if you sit alone in a room while doing your job all the time, you may tend to get funny in the head, anyway.

 

I think what differentiates guys from the era of Williams and Goldsmith is a wholly different, very disciplined work ethic. They both exactly knew what rich tradition and professionalism they inherited and worked hard to keep it that way. Both could become rather prickly (as i've learned through selected stories by musicians or insiders over the years) but that never had to do with the kind of narcissism disorders of the Trump scale but more with their music (production, playing, fucking around with it). 

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Just now, publicist said:

Horner was, by all accounts, the biggest prick of them all. But as rightly stated, he became much more mellow and wistful in the last 10 years, and i guess if you sit alone in a room while doing your job all the time, you may tend to get funny in the head, anyway.

 

I think what differentiates guys from the era of Williams and Goldsmith is a wholly different, very disciplined work ethic. They both exactly knew what rich tradition and professionalism they inherited and worked hard to keep it that way. Both could become rather prickly (as i've learned through selected stories by musicians or insiders over the years) but that never had to do with the kind of narcissism disorders of the Trump scale but more with their music (production, playing, fucking around with it). 

Any particular stories about Williams?

 

Karol

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1 hour ago, karelm said:

Horner dated Goldsmith's daughter when in high school.

 

Haha that's a pretty funny connection. 

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Only in the generalized sense that i heard some stories by a shall-be-unnamed orchestrator in London during a pub crawl after one of these last Goldsmith concerts. Williams tends to engage more in hardly visible backroom politics to get things his way and his way is a very expensive one that gives him a royal amount of autonomy and the least amount of fuck up. You do the math where that can bring people into trouble that aren't named Spielberg or Lucas. 

 

Goldsmith was - as Lukas Kendall aptly put it - a blue-collar composer who would make himself heard much more up-front which cost him a good deal of jobs over issues that a diplomat like Williams always can tiptoe around. Goldsmith was Herrmann lite, Williams more like Tiomkin who also had a special talent for public relations in his time. 

 

All that said, i don't think that any regular guy would have to fear either Goldsmith or Williams throwing his weight around to get him fired or something. With Horner we know that was different.

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"There were moments in a lot of different films where I could tell there's no better way of doing it than the way I did it."  - James Horner

 

It sounds the same as it did the last time I listened to it! The feelings have changed a bit.

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It's interesting because as european i feel a sudden impulse to reject such platitudes (wouldn't giants like Morricone or even less famous composers be able to offer a valid alternative to the inevitably Hollywoodized larger-than-life theatrics of Horner?) - but then, if a composer wouldn't held such deep-seated convictions, however ill-deserved, would he be able to climb to such heights?

 

I don't think that such grandiosity would ever come out of Lorne Balfe's mouth...and that's how the music sounds.

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2 hours ago, publicist said:

Goldsmith was - as Lukas Kendall aptly put it - a blue-collar composer who would make himself heard much more up-front which cost him a good deal of jobs over issues that a diplomat like Williams always can tiptoe around. Goldsmith was Herrmann lite, Williams more like Tiomkin who also had a special talent for public relations in his time. 

 

I'd struggle to put anyone in the same category as Herrmann. I don't think the problem with him was a lack of diplomacy - more an unwillingness to actually collaborate. What little I know about the Torn Curtain situation suggests that when given direction by Hitchcock that he didn't agree with, he just went ahead and did what he wanted anyway. That, and the direct quotes from him that spotting is 'my job, not theirs' and that he always 'wrote the music (he) wanted to write'. (from An Unvarnished Chat, for those who aren't familiar)

 

Goldsmith/Horner might ruffle a few feathers these days. Herrmann would never get a scoring job.

 

Compare that to Goldsmith's handling of Timeline, where he told Donner that he didn't particularly want to rewrite his score, but would do it if Donner asked him to.

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Herrmann was certainly the most uncooperative of composers when it comes to changing what he personally felt worked best for the scene. Goldsmith was a little more pragmatic. Williams is probably the most diplomatic.

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2 hours ago, crocodile said:

Any particular stories about Williams?

 

Karol

 

There was some sort of kerfuffle between Williams and the Boston Symphony Orchestra/the Pops back in the 80s(?), but I don't remember the context.

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Did Herrmann ever write an alternate? I don't have a lot of his music, but what I do have has no indications that he changed anything on the scoring stage.

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1 minute ago, peter.anschutz said:

 

There was some sort of kerfuffle between Williams and the Boston Symphony Orchestra/the Pops back in the 80s(?), but I don't remember the context.

 

They revolted at having to play 'America the Dream Goes on' and who could blame them?

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5 minutes ago, peter.anschutz said:

There was some sort of kerfuffle between Williams and the Boston Symphony Orchestra/the Pops back in the 80s(?), but I don't remember the context.

 

He resigned because the orchestra scoffed at "America, the Dream Goes On" or something. Who the fuck could blame them, but Williams blew a fuse. It even made the papers, but the higher-ups...took care of the problem, ensuring that Williams remained at his post.

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Just now, Richard Penna said:

Did Herrmann ever write an alternate? I don't have a lot of his music, but what I do have has no indications that he changed anything on the scoring stage.

 

Of course he did. He actually could do this much easier than most of his contemporaries (Tiomkin!) due to his microcell ostinato writing. 

 

You mustn't forget that Herrmann lived in an era when the musical directors ruled the music affairs, so when Alfred Newman asked Herrmann to revise a cue, Herrmann would do without blinking. Because he thought highly of Newman as a professionell. In the later days of Horner and Goldsmith, it was much more common to have to answer to a studio committee of nitwits, which Herrmann would have made unemployed in a NY minute.

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Hmm, I got the impression from his chat that if a director asked him to change a cue, he'd just maintain that his approach was right. But that was from the 70s, and he directly addresses the trend for 'pop scores', so I guess a lot of his frustration was in response to changing fashions.

 

Although, his response to Hitchcock's request should have been to politely (or not) decline the job and ask that someone else did it. I just re-read the section in Torn Music about this, and while it seems he didn't completely fly in the face of the assignment, he did ignore several direct requests because he felt his approach was better for the film. Rightly or wrongly, he didn't acknowledge that a composer is working for the director.

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24 minutes ago, publicist said:

 

Of course he did. He actually could do this much easier than most of his contemporaries (Tiomkin!) due to his microcell ostinato writing. 

 

You mustn't forget that Herrmann lived in an era when the musical directors ruled the music affairs, so when Alfred Newman asked Herrmann to revise a cue, Herrmann would do without blinking. Because he thought highly of Newman as a professionell. In the later days of Horner and Goldsmith, it was much more common to have to answer to a studio committee of nitwits, which Herrmann would have made unemployed in a NY minute.

 

And their collaboration on The Egyptian produced what I consider to be one of the all time great scores

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Herrmann didn't think much of the musical sensibilities of most directors. Thats why he probably chose to ignore their suggestions if he thought they were wrong. It's different when a fellow-composer of somewhat equal standing suggests a change. The way Newman and Herrmann would have discussed a change in music would have likely been very different.

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21 minutes ago, Richard Penna said:

Hmm, I got the impression from his chat that if a director asked him to change a cue, he'd just maintain that his approach was right. But that was from the 70s, and he directly addresses the trend for 'pop scores', so I guess a lot of his frustration was in response to changing fashions.

 

Probably. Also, on 'Torn Curtain' it must be remembered that he pulled a stunt like this on Hitchcock in 'Psycho' - and came out smelling like a flower of roses (Hitchcock forbade him to score the shower scene). So he probably felt a bit too cocky by 1966.

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Hitch was at a point in his career when his films weren't quite doing as well as just a few years ago. So he was probably a bit more insecure, and Herrmann essentially pulling rank musically wasn't something he was prepared to deal with.

 

I mean neither men were exactly cuddly and easy to deal with.

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So the nagging question remains if Horner hung out on Goldsmith's TMP sessions thinking 'i can do better than this' and what punishment he should receive posthumously?

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