John Williams, My Hero in Turtleneck
He lifted me to the stars and composed the soundtrack of my life. And he rocks turtlenecks like nobody’s business. On the eve of “The Rise of Skywalker,” this is an appreciation.
I met the man twice. No, let me rephrase that. I met The Man twice.
The first time I encountered John Towner Williams, I was exiting a meeting at Amblin, Steven Spielberg’s company on the Universal Studios lot. He was entering as I was exiting. He laughed first, as if he knew I wanted to say something but was being overly polite. Both of us were wearing black turtlenecks in 90-degree heat.
He pointed and said, simply, “Nice.”
“I steal from the best,” I deadpanned. I stepped back so he could enter and one mutual nod later that was that.
Unlike me, the man certainly rocked his look.
The second time we met, my wife had to schedule a surgery and so we visited her doctor for an initial exam. I went with her. We waited in the lobby while a guy — once again conspicuous in a black turtleneck in the middle of summer — spoke to the woman behind the window.
We waited, while he kept listening to the woman.
He turned around, and apologized to us.
“Why are you apologizing?” I asked.
“Sorry. These things take long sometimes.”
“No worries. Really.”
I go back to my magazine. A minute or so later, he turned around again.
“I’m so sorry.”
“Honestly,” I said. “It’s really okay.”
He nodded and turned back. My wife and I looked at each other, impressed with the consideration of the guy.
He finally finished up. He turned to us again —
“Thank you so much for understanding.”
Another woman stood, from the chair next to my wife. It was his wife. She smiled. As they left, I joked with her husband —
“Anyone tell you, you look like John Williams?”
He smiled. “Always. Thank you again so much.” They leave.
“By any chance,” I asked the woman at the desk, “Was that John Williams?”
“Yes it was. Such a nice man.”
I turned to my wife. “I didn’t recognize him in such a casual place … That was our longest conversation yet, you know.”
Now, I work in this business, and I was utterly taken aback. That was one hell of a nice guy right there.
And one of my heroes.
I cannot in any way express the degree of just how important this man was to my childhood, and even my adult life. Particularly, his scores for “Star Wars” and “Superman: The Movie” bring back such happy and vivid memories of an amazing boyhood with my family … I’m at a loss, but I’ll try.
I know a ton of public figures. I’ve run into Williams twice and he’s still “that guy” for me. His music made “real” and unbearably exciting my fantasy world. My very favorite childhood fictions would never have been the same without his music.
Check out some of these photo montages for a selection of his more well-known scores …
Incredible, even to this jaded near-56 year-old. The maestro’s output is damn-near heroic.
I mean, just watch the below raw footage from “Star Wars.” Without Williams’ legendary, majestic score, do you believe the franchise that ensued would have ever happened?
For those unaware, The Man also composed the theme for the Olympics.
Mr. Williams, you are indeed The Man. I just have one suggestion for you, though. I think you’d be more comfortable in gray turtlenecks during 90-degree So Cal summers.
Trust me. I’ve learned that recently.
And I thank you, sir. For everything.
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