As I constantly remind my children (and pretty much anyone under 30 who will listen) I was fortunate to appreciate the arrival of Star Wars in its perfect, undistilled and most innocent form – in the theater in 1977 when the first film (and A New Hope will always be the first film) hit theaters.
Along with all the other cultural touchstones brought on by the film and its two sequels, it’s often lost on the younger folks of today that Star Wars landed in the cultural consciousness smack in the middle of disco’s surge out of Studio 54 and into the American mainstream. So naturally, we’d have to have a disco version of John Williams’ iconic Star Wars theme music, along with disco-beat hand claps and awesome pew-pew-pew blaster fire sound effects in the background.
The best part is that I owned this LP. Really. If I dig back in my record collection right now, I might be able to pull out the original vinyl copy for you. Then again, my mom might have sold it at a garage sale circa 1983, where there’s no doubt she valued it at a typically bargain basement price of about 25 cents.
But I do know that starting in the summer of 1977, I played the living crap out of this record at my house. Then I took it over to my friend’s house, and we played the living crap out of it there. And the radio played it, too. Take a look at the Billboard charts for 1977 and you’ll find it right there at No 71 on the Top 100 for the whole year. Incidentally, John Williams’ original theme held down the No. 99 spot, so some folks were playing the crap out of that one, too.
Yeah, listening to it now, far removed from the 8-year-old kid I was at the time, it sounds like a great big hunk of cheese. But back then, it encompassed all that could be remotely considered cool by a nerdy little science fiction-loving kid living in a tiny, high school-football crazed Southern town.
There was no shame in dancing. No nerd battles pitting sci-fi against fantasy. No vaguely homophobic “death to disco” talk – just childhood innocence, a tune and a beat and the sounds of spaceships in pursuit to take one little kid to a galaxy far, far away.