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Caldwell Composer's Song Written For Famous Film Is Released 52 Years Later

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Courtesy of Mike Kaplan
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Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick (far left) on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey, giving "the look" to one of his crew members, 1968.

In 1968, Mike Kaplan, a long time Canyon County resident, was working in New York City as part of the team for the groundbreaking film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The science fiction film was visionary and it vaulted its producer and director Stanley Kubrick into the pantheon of great film directors. 

2001 was about a manned space journey to Jupiter, extraterrestrial life and the artificial intelligence of computer named HAL. The film, at first, received a mixed reaction, then, Academy Award nominations, fame, and 52 years later, it’s a film classic.

Kaplan was the marketing director for the film, but he joined Idaho Matters live to talk about the sound of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was notable for having very little dialogue and no traditional musical score. He described his personal journey that began with Kubrick's sudden challenge to him in 1968: compose a song for this film.

Kaplan attended a meeting with Kubrick and MGM Records, whose president Mort Nasatir, was sharing a song demo, proposed to be released as a single to promote the film. The song was maudlin and a terrible fit for the film, which was lauded for its avant-garde, non-linear style. Kubrick gently turned down the proposal from MGM. According to Kaplan, Kubrick then turned to him and said, “I hear you write music. Why don’t you write something?"

Kaplan was startled, because his music writing was a private hobby, but he took on the challenge when he realized Kubrick was making a seriious request. In addition to his regular marketing role with the film, Kaplan spent the following weeks moonlighting to compose the song, which was professionally mixed and featured singer Naomi Gardner.

Kaplan went to Kubrick's rented home on Long Island to demo his composition, but was discouraged when all Kubrick could provide for the presentation was an old, tinny Victrola. The recording was barely legible on the small stereo speakers.

In retelling the moment, Kaplan described he was "shattered" when Kubrick rejected the song. Kaplan went back to his role in marketing, continuing to work with Kubrick on his followup masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange

Redemption of a sort occurred this year, in 2020, when the song was discovered and released as a single by Wave Theory Records, as 2001: A Garden Of Personal Mirrors

Have a question or comment for the show? Tweet @KBSX915 using #IdahoMatters

Tom Michael is General Manager of Boise State Public Radio and responsible for its management and leadership. His most recent focus is on digital transformation, long-term financial stability and a more inclusive workplace. When he wants a break from the news, he enjoys running in the Boise foothills.