At Christmas 1985 I was given three cassettes to play on my new mono Walkman. One of them I forget, another was Lionel Richie’s ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’, and the third the soundtrack to ‘Mad Max-Beyond Thunderdome’, songs by Tina Turner, score by Maurice Jarre. (You may remember ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’. How could you not?)
I was ten years old and hadn’t seen any of the ‘Mad Max’ films – still haven’t, to tell the truth – but Jarre’s synthesized operative, and at the risk of a bland pun, ‘thunderous’ music was played so often by my ten and eleven and twelve and thirteen year old hands (until Prince did the music for ‘Batman’) that it’s never far from my internal sound machine.
I assume that the reason we feel nostalgic for early memories is at least partly because something happens to your brain when you’re a child – memories are absorbed differently than when you get older; or maybe it’s just that I didn’t have as many options for what music to listen to that I can’t do anything but remember ‘Mad Max 3′ as if it were the only tune I knew during President Reagan’s second term.
Jarre’s music could be epic – it’s not for nothing that he’s best known for ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, but he was also one of the most willing to experiment of film composers – the electronica doesn’t always work – it dates the music in a way that the use of a full orchestra doesn’t. Of course his son Jean-Michel took over the mantle of synthesized experimentation, adding a bit more colour to other childhood memories – I have a vague recollection of seeing him direct purple sound waves at the 200th anniversary of Bastille Day in front of the Eiffel Tower. That album found its way onto the Mono Walkman too. I bet his Dad was proud.
But today, the news has come of Maurice Jarre’s death. It’s very strange, because the man crossed my mind on Saturday; while watching the opening moments of ‘No Way Out’ I wondered if we’d get to hear any new Jarre music. Alas no. But we do have
Lawrence of Arabia + Ryan’s Daughter + Dr Zhivago
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
The Man Who Would Be King
Les Yeux sans Visage
Jesus of Nazareth
and for my tastes, the loveliest score he wrote: Dead Poets Society
So rest in peace, Maurice Jarre. I imagine your music will last as long as there are people to listen.