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A year after his death, a fitting musical tribute to composer James Horner

Screenshot: Without James Horner

It has been a year since a plane crash claimed the life of prolific film composer James Horner, the man whose music was integral to such James Cameron hits as Avatar, Titanic, and Aliens. To recognize the anniversary of the maestro’s death, the duo of Jon and Al Kaplan have released a half-sentimental, half-satirical tribute video entitled “Without James Horner.” Loaded with clips from the composer’s many film projects, including Cocoon and Field Of Dreams, the video is built around an original song whose lyrics ponder the sad realities of a Horner-less world. “Without James Horner,” goes the chorus as Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio cavort on screen, “How will we know that we’re in love?” Over the years, the song points out, Horner’s talent has lent grandeur to everything from Star Trek to Mel Gibson. “He left behind his music,” the song continues. “It alleviates our sorrow / We feel guilty for the jokes we made / About the concert works he’d borrow.” Speaking of borrowing, the melody for this song has the unmistakable feel of a sweeping, majestic Horner score. And some of the lines are performed in imitation of the actors who appeared in these movies, including Morgan Freeman and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

One of the biggest questions raised by this song is: Now that Horner has died, who the heck is going to score all those cockamamie Avatar sequels that Cameron has planned? “Who could replace him on Avatar 2? There’s no hope / Not even a glimmer,” goes the bridge. “Maybe Silvestri or Williams or Elfman or anyone other than…” Cleverly, the singer does not actually need to sing Hans Zimmer’s name. The video just cuts to a shot of him while the song briefly quotes the Inception score. (BWAAAAA!) Jokes aside, the video really does throw a spotlight on Horner’s long, distinguished, and surprisingly varied career. From Willow to The Rocketeer, this guy was up to whatever challenge that Hollywood threw at him. And now he’s gone, leaving the world a lesser place.

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