(for the Film Score Monthly blog)
When my band director asked if I’d give him a ride, my brain scrambled onto one thought: what cassette did I have in the car?
This was high school. This was the early eighties. This was the time for cassettes. To be fair, though, I had cassette players in all my cars until about 2003. I didn’t see any advantage to having a cd player since the cassettes I listened to were all mix tapes (although I never heard the term mix tape until maybe 2001). Why be forced to just listen to a prerecorded cd when I could record my own hand-picked mix of selections – and tape over it with a new batch at will?
At that time, most of my tapes all sounded pretty much alike, filled with tracks from Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, of course, plus a couple of tracks from Superman and two or three cues from Star Trek The Motion Picture. Only the playing order varied, but you’d undoubtedly hear "The Asteroid Field" and "Ben’s Death/TIE Fighter Attack" and "The Enterprise" and the Main Titles from all and the End Titles from all and maybe something like Maynard Ferguson’s take on the Star Wars theme as an alternative.
But when my high school band director asked if I could give him a ride back to the school, I worried about what tape I currently had in the car and which specific track would come on when we got in the car. Earlier that year we had played the "Main Title March" from Superman as part of our field show in marching band, and I kind of hoped that it would play while we were in the car so he would recognize my appreciation for the art of John Williams.
We crammed into my orange VW beetle and started off. As luck would have it, when the music came on it was smack dab in the middle of the Superman March. I felt a swell of pride, envisioning him smirking happily at my choice of music.
We drove in silence for a few minutes.
“Is this Star Wars?” he asked, incredulous, the tone betraying the notion that he couldn’t believe anyone would willingly listen to this stuff.
“Uh, actually, it’s Superman,” I replied.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “I can’t really tell them apart.”
I think we drove the rest of the way in silence.