When the Music Makes the Movie

As a first generation, original Star Wars fan, I watched the movie in early June 1977 – and proceeded to watch it 3 more times over the next 10 days, each time watching or listening for a different aspect of the movie.

The reason?

I had already read the book.

A paperback book ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster and based on the screenplay by George Lucas was first published in the U.S. as Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker in November 1976 by Ballantine Books, six months before the theatrical release of the film. A second (Splinter of the Mind’s Eye) followed a few months later.

That was my introduction to Star Wars.

Needless to say, in the 47 years since, I’ve not only followed the development of the Star Wars universe personally, I’ve raised a Star Wars family.

Movies in the theater, LEGO sets by the dozen, VHS tapes, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, CDs of the soundtracks, books, theme park visits, and more – you name it, Star Wars has been a part of our greater household for decades.

Last year, though, my wife Anita and I experienced Star Wars in a new way – in a concert by the Charlotte Symphony.

With the full-length movie playing on a huge screen suspended above the full orchestra, the effect was mind-blowing.

Music has always been an integral part of the Star Wars movies. With the brilliant composing of John Williams, all nine Star Wars movies have been made greater by the music.

As a matter of fact, the second time I watched the original Star Wars movie in 1977, it was with my eyes closed, just so I could soak in the music.

And do, here we are exactly a year later, and Anita and I will be joined by my daughter and son-in-law on March 18 to see The Return of the Jedi.

I may keep my eyes open, but it will be to sneak a peek at the conductor and orchestra, as they utilize their talents to bring the movie to life once again.


Revisiting the Worlds of Star Wars

I’m one of the original Star Wars fans (as in, I saw the first movie as soon as it showed up in Nashville, TN in early June 1977). It was the summer break after my freshman year of college, and I was working the factory line at Aladdin Industries, making Thermos bottles. My first “real” job, according to my father (after working at our family-owned gas station since age 6). Working the second shift, I was able to catch a late showing the day it came out.

The first time I saw it, I knew it was a game changer in so many ways. The next day, I came back and “watched” it with my eyes closed, just to listen to the music. A long-time lover of classical music, I was building a classical record library courtesy of a Columbia Music classical record subscription (remember those?). 

Then I watched it five more times in the next week. And saw it again in theaters over the years. And bought it on VHS – then DVD, finally on Blu Ray. And I’ve watched it a bunch (cue eye roll by the wife) on Disney+ since November 2019.

The love of Star Wars runs deep in my family, from me to my children to my grandchildren. I have a 10-year old granddaughter I would put up against anyone in Star Wars trivia.

Oddly enough, though, I’ve only read two books with Star Wars stories. Those happened to be the first two, “Star Wars” and “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye,” both written by Alan Dean Foster (even though the first had George Lucas’ name on the cover), which I bought when they came out. And in the 44 years since…


Of the hundreds of books available in the Star Wars universe, I’ve really only read those two. Which, given my family fandom, love of movies in general, and Star Wars fascination, is unusual.

To say nothing of my love of reading in general.

That changed this week, with the book “Light of the Jedi.” I preordered it for my Star Wars-loving, book-collecting son when it came out January 5. At the time, I told him I was also putting it on reserve at my library, and would read it when it came in so we could talk about it.

Which it did yesterday.

And which I’m now reading…

Our 5 Generation Star Wars Family

Just typing the title gives me pause…

But it’s true – my immediate family: my wife and me, our four children and their spouses, and all their children fall into five generational cohorts in use today.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Boomer – born 1943-1964 – 2
  • Gen X – born 1965-1981 – 2
  • Millennial – born 1982-1996 – 6
  • Gen Z – born 1997-2010 – 2
  • Alpha – born 2011-2025 – 8

That’s 20 humans, ranging from 4 months old to 65 years old.

And since we are a Star Wars family, with the announcement of the official new Star Wars Universe timeline, we have a new way to track our generational cohorts.

Here is the official new Star Wars timeline, updated to include The High Republic era:

  • The High Republic – The new official starting point of the Star Wars canon, set 200 years before the Prequel Trilogy. It will be explored in the new “High Republic” line of Star Wars books and comics coming in 2021. A tie-in series on Disney+ (The Acolyte) has also been announced.
  • Fall of The Jedi – Covering the Jedi Order’s fall and Sith return, in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, The Clone Wars, and Revenge of the Sith.
  • Reign of The Empire – Exploring the initial rise of The Empire and the chaos of its shadow covering galaxy. Covering events depicted in the upcoming Bad Batch animated series, and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
  • Age of Rebellion – The slow but sure rise of The Rebellion in the decades after the Empire’s rise. Covering events in Star Wars Rebels, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.
  • The New Republic – The chaos after Palpatine’s seeming demise, as the Empire struggled to survive, and a New Republic started to take form. The Mandalorian is set in this time period.
  • Rise of the First Order – The Imperial remnants re-organize into The First Order, and attempt to reclaim the galaxy, as part of Palpatine’s resurrection. Covers events in Star Wars: Resistance, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker.

In the summer of 1977, just finishing my freshman year in college, I went to the opening night of A New Hope as soon as it came to Nashville, TN. And I returned – three more times in the next week, and a few more during the summer.

Our children, especially the older two boys born in 1981 and 1984, grew up with Star Wars movies (via videotape), LEGO sets, and other toys.

All of this finds us following the Age of Rebellion.

As they reached high school and then college age and then young adulthood, the boys, their mother and me, (and eventually their spouses), entered the Fall of the Jedi timeline.

My second son, by this time entering into his early twenties, took an even deeper dive in the Star Wars: beginning the building of a large Star Wars library from the vast amounts of books and comic books available; adding to the Star Wars LEGO sets in a big way; creating costume elements for display and wearing, and in a few short years, welcoming his daughter to the world of Star Wars.

Born in 2010, she (along with her older cousin) were the perfect age for the development of the Rise of the First Order. With a huge amount of material available in her father’s library and carefully curated access to the Internet, she became the most knowledgeable of the younger generation in our family.

Last year’s debut of Disney+, with The Mandalorian leading the way, was eagerly anticipated by multiple generations in our family. Some of us watched it during lunch breaks the day it came out; most of us had completed each week’s release by the evening it came out, often jumping on a intra-family text thread. We’re squarely in The New Republic now.

With the avalanche of announcements by Lucasfilm this week, we’re ready to branch out in both directions: The Reign of the Empire will be right in time for more of our grandchildren as they come of (the right) age to understand, and The High Republic will anchor the founding history (at least for now) for our entire family.

With no Christmas holiday movie release this year (a much-anticipated family event over the past five years), we will no doubt be talking (virtually) about the eagerly-awaited development of all the new shows, books, comics, and yes, LEGO sets, that are coming in the next year.

And then there’s always an anticipated trip to a galaxy far, far away.

But in the meantime, the finale of the second season of The Mandalorian is now out, and it’s time for an early morning viewing!