The best music evokes emotions. It’s a broad and generic statement, but that doesn’t make it any less true. John Williams captured feelings from hope, to sadness, to frustration, to excitement with the music he composed for the Star Wars films. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve listened to the tracks a handful of times or so often that you have each note memorized — their effect and power doesn’t fade. Williams’ work comes up often on my playlist, and I’ve found that music from Star Wars suits any and all occasions.
1. “The Force Theme,” for when you need to feel uplifted
Some days require a dose of inspiration and hope. As far as I know, you can’t get those items brought to your desk from your preferred food delivery service, but you can acquire them from art. “The Force Theme,” introduced in A New Hope, is all but guaranteed to make you pause, take stock, and feel optimistic. And if it doesn’t help, it will at least distract you and make you think about Star Wars for a moment.
2. “The Asteroid Field,” for when you need to get through your to-do list
You’re probably not faced with running from the Empire and navigating your spaceship through an asteroid field — at least, I hope not — but “The Asteroid Field” from The Empire Strikes Back isn’t limited to such an extreme occasion. If you need to plow through a tedious task or cross items off your list, there’s nothing like the peppy and adventurous notes of “The Asteroid Field” to motivate you.
3. “Victory Celebration,” for when you want to celebrate
Does anything say “celebration” like music that represents the triumph of the Rebels over the Empire? No, no it doesn’t. “Victory Celebration” from Return of the Jedi is hopeful, light, and poignant all at the same time. Play this when you get a promotion, when you ace a presentation, or when you win a game.
4. “Duel of the Fates,” for when you need to finish a workout
Music can be just the push I need to feel motivated to exercise — the more dramatic the theme, the more effective. Something about heavy tones and intense melodies helps me get around the track or make it through one more rep. “Duel of the Fates” from The Phantom Menace (and “Anakin’s Dark Deeds” from Revenge of the Sith) fits this particular bill and will help you burn more calories.
5. “Yoda’s Theme,” for when you need to make an important decision
Jedi Master Yoda is one of the wisest beings I know — even if his advice is often cryptic and challenging to decipher. “Yoda’s Theme,” first heard in The Empire Strikes Back, carries the weight of Yoda’s experience and knowledge and is the ideal soundtrack for considering big, life-changing options. Playing “Yoda’s Theme” is like asking yourself what Yoda would do or say.
Which pieces of John Williams music do you find yourself playing day-to-day? Share your favorites in the comments.