How does one accurately capture with words the legacy of a man who touched the souls of so many individuals with music? He spoke the language of the human soul. I’m not sure there is anything I can say to compete with that.
We are all devastated by the loss of James Horner. He was one of the titans; a film composer with a painter’s eye for the subtle hues that color our cavernous souls. He was one of the most extraordinary dramatists of our time. Horner’s loquacious melodies tickle your heart in the most unexpected places no matter if it’s the first time you’re hearing it, or the 10,000th time. His dramatic language was stubbornly simple, yet verbose and he demanded immaculate perfection from his performers no matter how inconspicuous each note may have seemed within the grand context of the composition.
There are so many film scores composed throughout Horner’s career that offer solace at the thought of his loss. For me, his life’s work is an overflowing cornucopia of cherished treasures too numerous to count. There are scores like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Commando (1985), Aliens (1986), An American Tail (1986), Glory (1989), A Far Off Place (1993), The Man Without a Face (1993), Legends of the Fall (1994), To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday (1996), Titanic (1997) and many others that I adore with every film-music-loving fiber of my being; however, my five personal favorites that will forever continue to mold and shape my life are Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993), Field of Dreams (1989), The Rocketeer (1991), Braveheart (1995) and Apollo 13 (1995).
You might find film scores that are as good as many of these Horner titles, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any better. His orchestra was an assemblage of the hearts and minds of his audience and he mastered the delicate gestures that commanded our greatest performances. When Horner composed music for a film, it was blessed. The director was blessed. The actors, cinematographers, costume designers and everybody else involved with the filmmaking process were blessed by his contributions. James Horner made everybody’s work better. He made their passion palpable.
It is important to note that Horner died engaged in something he loved. He followed his heart’s passion and that’s a valuable lesson for us all no matter what the consequences of that pursuit may be. It’s odd, but I admire him even more knowing there was something he loved as much as, if not more, than music, and that he pursued it with the same fervor and enthusiasm he did composing, is wholly inspirational to me.
I never met the man. I never got to interview him. I never even got the opportunity to tell him how much his work meant to me. It’s nagging my soul because I feel like I owe him something. I’m content knowing his music will reside in my heart forever; however, I can’t ignore the empty spaces reserved for all the scores he didn’t get a chance to compose.
“Hey Dad… You wanna have a catch?”