Join 3,523 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Official Music Of The XXIIIrd Olympiad
July 26, 2012 9:26 PM   Subscribe

28 years ago this summer, Leo Arnaud's "Bugler's Dream" suddenly found it had competition for the title of The Olympic Theme. Composer John Williams was commissioned to create a new fanfare, and "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" was the result, with the Fanfare portion being played at every medal ceremony in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. But that wasn't the only music created for those Olympic Games...

The Official Music Of The XXIIIrd Olympiad (also released as The Official Music Of The 1984 Olympics [this link has full album credit information]) was released as one of many "official" products connected with the games that year. Long out of print, the album featured music from a wide range of artists popular at the time.
Leo Arnaud - Bugler's Dream (not the version on the album, sadly)
Loverboy - Nothing's Gonna Stop You Now (Team Sports Theme)
Giorgio Moroder Featuring Paul Engemann - Reach Out (Track Theme)
Bob James - Courtship (Basketball Theme)
Christopher Cross - A Chance For Heaven (Swimming Theme)
Toto - Moodido (The Match) (Boxing Theme)
John Williams - Olympic Fanfare And Theme
Quincy Jones - Grace (Gymnastics Theme)
Bill Conti - Power (Power Sports Theme)
Foreigner - Street Thunder (Marathon Theme)
Herbie Hancock - Junku (Field Theme) (again, not the version from this album)
Philip Glass - The Olympian - The Lighting Of The Torch

Bonus Track - Reach Out (Extended)

Curiously, this album did not include Sergio Mendez's specially commissioned Official Song of the 1984 Olympics, Olympia, here featured in a lengthy expository video which might have actually run on MTV back in 1984.

While a few tracks on this album were used as b-sides or included in compilation albums, many of them cannot be found outside this context at all.

This album was only ever released on vinyl and cassette, and has long been out of print. Thanks to music blogs, such as this one, you can have this collection plus the Sergio Mendez track for your own digital music collection. [scroll down for download link]
posted by hippybear (24 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm pretty sure my original cassette of this is in my dad's storage unit somewhere. (I also had the 45 of the Williams theme b/w Grace. Record geek since birth I'm afraid.)
posted by mykescipark at 9:45 PM on July 26, 2012


Every once in a while I wonder why there's no modern day beethoven, mozarts, etc. then I listen to John Williams soundtracks and realize that there is.
posted by milnak at 9:54 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


That Phillip Glass piece makes me feel like I should be fighting Sephiroth.
posted by darksasami at 10:22 PM on July 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm also a fan of Summon the Heroes which Williams did for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta (although it sounds a bit more like his movie soundtracks).

The Olympic Spirit which he wrote for the 1988 games in Seoul has a lackluster fanfare, but the quiet main theme is one of his very best. It sounds like confident, steady, relentless, inevitable victory. And when that same so-so fanfare returns again after the theme, it is thrilling.
posted by straight at 10:29 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Olympic Spirit (forgot the link)
posted by straight at 10:30 PM on July 26, 2012


Every once in a while I wonder why there's no modern day beethoven, mozarts, etc. then I listen to John Williams soundtracks and realize that there is.

Dude's a giant rip off artist. Holst and Elgar, especially.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:34 PM on July 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Every once in a while I wonder why there's no modern day beethoven, mozarts, etc. then I listen to John Williams soundtracks and realize that there is.

If there's any justice, 200 years from now, Star Wars will be remembered as a sort of operetta by John Williams and the script writer will be as well-known as is the fellow who wrote the libretto to Mozart's Don Giovanni.
posted by straight at 10:41 PM on July 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, listen to the music for "King's Row" vs "Star Wars". Still, he's a damn good ripoff artist. In the way of the hip-hop samplers of today, Williams makes me want to seek out more of his inspirations. Looks like I'll have to check out Holst and Elgar... thanks, Ironmouth.
posted by scrowdid at 10:41 PM on July 26, 2012


Dude's a giant rip off artist. Holst and Elgar, especially.

He's a lot broader than all that. His scores for Jaws and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind contain not much of those styles, and lot of others, much more modern. He's mostly known for his high classical style scores, but for a while in the 1970s, he was doing a lot of things, all over the map.

The problem is, where does pastiche and "in the style of" end and "rip-off" begin? It's a line which has been finely walked by many in all genres of music for centuries now, and it's difficult to know exactly what is intended when one is listening with hindsight.
posted by hippybear at 11:16 PM on July 26, 2012


Williams definitely swiped all kinds of orchestration ideas from Holst and Elgar and Korngold, (and put them to good use!) but it's his melodies that make him brilliant. King's Row is Star Wars without any tunes that you'll leave the theatre humming.

The Imperial March is a huge rip-off of Mars by Holst, except you'd never hear Mars from a crowd of protesters chanting it at riot police. Which is not to say that Holst didn't also have some good tunes in him, or that the Imperial March is better than Mars, but just that Williams is definitely bringing something great of his own to the shoulders he's standing on.
posted by straight at 11:22 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


John Williams in the same sentence as Mozart and Beethoven? Please tell me that's a joke,
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:56 AM on July 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's also the theme to the short-lived Fox series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr which NBC re-appropriated for their coverage of the Olympics.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:59 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


darksasami: Everytime I hear Philip Glass I am more convinced of the brilliance of the South Park parody.
posted by frecklefaerie at 5:32 AM on July 27, 2012


What about Lionel Ritchie singing "All Night Long" for over 20 minutes during the closing ceremonies? I'm sure I didn't dream that.
posted by rikschell at 5:37 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh, I thought that Bugler's Theme was just NBC theme music.
posted by smackfu at 6:16 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Imperial March is a huge rip-off of Mars by Holst

ITYM Mars.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:05 AM on July 27, 2012


Wow that Philip Glass piece is nuts. Did they really play that in the stadium, on the TV? I can just imagine America sticking its fingers in its ears saying "can't they switch to that Toto song?" Me, I love it, it's always awesome when Philip Glass gets all bombastic. Just last week we were party rocking to Ahknaten.

Olympic opening ceremonies are some of the world's most ambitious and ridiculous performance art. Can't wait to see what London delivers.
posted by Nelson at 7:42 AM on July 27, 2012


I bought this on vinyl in 1984, when I caught a serious case of Olympic Fever. Still have it. Some of that stuff is pretty bad. :) My favorites (besides the John Williams piece) are the songs from Quincy Jones and Bob James.

We played OF&T in middle school band that year; it became one of my favorite pieces of music ever.
posted by eafarris at 8:57 AM on July 27, 2012


Dude's a giant rip off artist. Holst and Elgar, especially.

It would be more correct to just say that Williams is a great composer of music based on the demands of others.

Film composers are constantly asked to write music which is unique, follows the emotional requirements of the film, and satisfies whatever else the director asks for. And often, as was the case in Star Wars, there are temp tracks. Lucas was influenced by pieces from Stravinsky, Hermann, Holst, Rozsa, Dvorak, Korngold, and North, probably others. You're not going to be employed very long as a film composer by just doing whatever the fuck you want.

I would also not put Williams in the same category as Beethoven and Mozart. Not to say that Williams couldn't follow their style and add his own influence to create something truly amazing, or that if he'd been a composer in the 18th century he wouldn't have had the same facility at creating groundbreaking new works. It's just unanswerable.

No matter how much you dislike Williams' film music, he is a great composer. If he was paid to create something that appeased your hatred, he could do it. I'm sure of that.
posted by hanoixan at 9:11 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


John Williams is also the first and only Leutonian composer to conduct the Boston Pops.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:28 AM on July 27, 2012


Wow that Philip Glass piece is nuts. Did they really play that in the stadium, on the TV?

To the best of my knowledge, the only one of these pieces to be performed at any point in the 1984 Olympics is the Williams Fanfare, which was performed duly with every medal ceremony.

(I attended the 1984 Olympics (Diving, Baseball, 2 days of Decathalon), and heard this played live on awesome unbent trumpets for more than a few medal ceremonies during my time there.)

I've never heard of any of the other tracks being used at any point during the 1984 Olympics, either live or as part of media coverage. As best I can tell, they were all confined to this album.
posted by hippybear at 7:17 PM on July 27, 2012


I have been hoping to find this 1984 Olympic soundtrack for... yeah, probably decades now. Thank you for finding and posting this.
posted by flexiblefine at 8:03 PM on July 27, 2012


No matter how much you dislike Williams' film music, he is a great composer. If he was paid to create something that appeased your hatred, he could do it. I'm sure of that.

He's probably already done it, and the hater simply isn't aware of the incredible scope across the multiple decades of his career. With a career which goes back to the 1950s, and spans not only film music in various styles, but also television and a pretty long list of Concerti he's composed for various soloists, not to mention his own catalog of classical works... Chances are, there's something he's done which the hater would love.

Unless the hater simply hates Williams' music because it's by Williams. But that's laser-focused bigotry, plain and simple.
posted by hippybear at 9:25 PM on July 27, 2012


(And yes, that Wikipedia page does say that Williams did the score for the first season of Gilligan's Island. I told you his range is broad. Get over yourself.)
posted by hippybear at 9:27 PM on July 27, 2012


« Older The Ju-Ju Magic of the Miners of Afosu....  |  Ben Stiller, aliens, and the i... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments