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Happy 70th Birthday to Danny Elfman

Danny Elfman turned 70 on Monday, May 29th. This seems incredible to me.

I still think of him as a “boy wonder,” the upstart composer of the 1980s. Back in the day, I remember plunking out the Beetlejuice main title “oompahs” at our upright piano, and thinking the main title to Batman was the coolest thing I had ever heard.

The above pic comes from a BMI awards event, probably not long after I moved to L.A. as those are my college-era glasses.

I’ve always been a fan, and always will. He’s a superstar.

He’s also been consistently one of the most personable, interesting and approachable superstars of all time.

The first time I met him was on one of my first trips to L.A. in the early 1990s. I went out to meet and interview him in his Topanga residence, where I remember we sat and did a very long interview.

When I returned to college and started to transcribe the tape, I learned to my utter horror that the batteries had been running low, and large parts were unusable.

I called Richard Kraft, Danny’s agent, to explain, and ask if Danny could perhaps help me reconstruct some of the comments over the phone?

Richard called me back some time thereafter. I specifically remember asking, “Did he think I’m an idiot?” and Richard said, “Yes.”

But you know what? Danny got on the phone and helped a mortified 20-year-old kid reconstruct their interview for a silly, upstart fanzine.

Some time later, after I moved to L.A., I remember being at the Men in Black scoring session and Danny placed a call to his agency. He sat on the couch and calmly said, “It’s Danny for Laura,” and I remember thinking, yes! That’s how you place a call.

Danny has always had that pitch-perfect combination of shy and genuine, with confident and secure.

In the early 2000s, I was hanging out a lot at screenwriter Shane Black’s house, and Danny and Bridget Fonda bought a mansion in the same gated community, which I went to once or twice.

I lived in Hancock Park at the time, and one time I went to Chan Dara on Larchmont to pick up Thai food where I ran into Danny and Bridget. It was either Christmas or around that time. They invited me to their table and we chatted for a while, which made me feel cool.

Some time afterwards, I saw Bridget at something or other, and explained who I was, and she said, “Oh, our Chan Dara friend.”

Weird the things you remember.

Danny Elfman is Happy birthday!

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Danny Elfman's music often sounds a bit messy to my ears (A Big Mess ?), except in scores like Batman, Sommersby, The Nightmare before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands that I really like for example (his Americana side, like Black Beauty, is gorgeous)...or bland like in the 50 shades of Grey films...being accustomed to listening to classically trained composers makes it harder for me to understand Danny's inner logic in his films scores (except following the action like Max Steiner), or even his concert works. The question of form, structure...But I'm glad that he has this totally unique musical personality. And that he was able to survive the non thematic, non melodic film scoring era that has drowned the film scoring business...And…

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