March 5th 1973

“Took back Trev’s records” / “In evening went up Nigs – battling tops wiv drawing pins – borrowed 2001 Ai Space Oddesy off of him – not bad” / “Borrowed drawing stuff off of Bernie – lent Trev my Popular Hi-Fi Mag”

Stanley Kubrick’s immense “2001 – A Space Odyssey” (erm, not Oddesy) movie was released in 1968.

I’m pretty certain that by 1973 I still hadn’t seen it. (In those days films were held for five or more years before appearing on television). In later years (i.e. after the advent of the video cassette) however, it became very much a firm personal favourite thanks to its intelligent script (based on the book by Arthur C. Clarke) and impressive (even now) visuals and special effects.

The soundtrack introduced me – like millions of others – to the classical musical delights of Richard and Johann Strauss, in particular the former’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” and the latter’s “The Blue Danube“.

People may not know that these pieces of music were not the original choice of Kubrick. He commissioned a full soundtrack composition from Alex North who, at the time, had just scored hit movies “Dr Strangelove” and “Spartacus“.  In 1966 the movie studio, MGM, put together a show reel of Kubrick’s early edited footage which showed the dramatic sequences using the classical music the eccentric director loosely adopted as a backdrop during filming. The studio bosses – and Kubrick himself – were so impressed with the results, this ‘guide music’ ended up being used for the final cut two years later. However, in something of a glaring snub, Alex North was not told his soundtrack was being abandoned, and never found out until he was sat down at the movie’s premiere!

I suspect my “not bad” fascination for the tracks stemmed from my familiarity of such overblown pieces previously offered by the likes of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and/or The Nice. I do know that the tracks took on an entirely new dimension when I eventually got to see the movie. The twinning of Kubrick’s visuals and these soaring sounds is as impressive as it can be.

However, on watching the movie, I felt retrospectively disappointed that that the soundtrack never did feature HAL’s version of the popular “Daisy, daisy, give me your answer do“. Maybe the errant computer was asked about having his early Stephen Hawkisms included and replied “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that“?

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