Prompt: Write about a song and the memories or feelings it evokes in you.
This is going to be a very different answer than most would give. The song: “Carbon Freeze; Darth Vader’s Trap; Departure of Boba Fett” from The Empire Strikes Back soundtrack release in 1997 alongside the special editions coming to theatres.
Up until middle school, I wasn’t much of a music listener. The first album I ever had was a cassette of Bobby McFerrin’s Simple Pleasures, which featured his award winning and iconic song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. There are other songs I like better on that album… as well as McFerrin’s overall body of work. I think my second album was the soundtrack to the Lion King. Due in large part to my love of the Star Wars movies, and playing the Shadows of the Empire video game, I was drawn to get this music. I believe it was sometime during 7th grade when I landed this soundtrack, perhaps for my birthday. The other Star Wars soundtracks followed, with A New Hope and Return of the Jedi during 8th grade. Shadows of the Empire was sometime toward the end of 8th grade at a Borders bookstore, around the time The Phantom Menace came out which I got immediately after seeing the movie at FYE.
The point of that narrative is to explain how I became obsessed with this music during a rather interesting time in my life. I took songs from all the Star Wars movies and eventually arranged them to fit story points in my own life. It was a way of connecting the amazing music and emotion of my life and give it some kind of soundtrack. Middle school was a turbulent time for most, and it wasn’t any different for me. Star Wars themes of heroism, struggle, darkness, and light all fit nicely for the seven years ending with high school graduation.
The song I listed is the portion of The Empire Strikes Back where Luke lands on Bespin, Leia watches Han get frozen, Luke starts to wander the halls of Bespin, followed by the start of his duel with Vader while Leia, Chewie, Lando, and C-3PO make a break to find Boba Fett, albeit, unsuccessfully. This is essentially the beginning of the climax of the movie. This track ultimately played overlay in my own personal soundtrack to a certain week in 8th grade.
I am not going to go into great detail, but the week in question involved my interest in a girl, how others decided to pry that secret out of me and then spill the beans very loudly before a class began to the entire class, in which she was also present. I was awkward throughout the situation and helped contribute to the rumor mill to some degree. I ultimately became deeply depressed for several days. Not because interest wasn’t mutual, but more so because I wasn’t the one to convey my own feelings. I felt somewhat violated in a way, cheated by friends and acquaintances, from going on my own path to success or failure. The piece of music conveys intense dramatic elements, shattered love, dark themes, and Boba Fett’s motif plays three times which I always paralleled to me walking down the halls for the three days during that short week in school trying not to attract attention to myself since I felt eyes burning through my soul. The track ends with a heroic piece, signifying the end of the dark three days, as I eventually came out of my broken mood. The entire event was probably absorbed too seriously on my part, but middle school is that kind of era in the heart, soul, and emotions of a young teen.
I could probably write an entry like this for nearly every Star Wars soundtrack released through 2005, conveying how I associated a musical element from John Williams’s master pieces as a backdrop to my own life and key events throughout. This one stands out though, because it was really at the start of my intense obsession with all things Star Wars, especially with a new movie coming out in a couple of months. The music helped me absorb the emotion of the time and make sense of the cruel worlds of middle and high school, while also cheering me on to victory in many other ways along the way.
The last thing I will say is that it is a real shame that The Empire Strikes Back didn’t win the Oscar for best original music/soundtrack. The music is the pinnacle achievement (I think) for Williams with Star Wars overall. I still rank that score as my favorite of all time and could listen to it in full endlessly. I am kind of bummed that iTunes and iPod’s didn’t exist back then. I’d love to know just how many times I actually listened to that soundtrack. Especially on my old CD player as I sat in the backseat of my parents car, trekking to basketball games or weekend shopping experiences. The music got me pumped for those basketball games too… so many stories for other times, and a Star Wars track to accompany it.