In this column, I sing the praises of an album of orchestral and choral music by John Williams, featuring an Olympic anthem from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:
By now we’re already well into the 2018 Olympic Winter Games at PyeongChang, and with the time difference between the United States and South Korea, NBC is showing many of the events hours after they happen in real time. But an even greater time delay exists for print columnists, so I’m writing this before I know how many medals my countries have swept.
I say “my countries” because I belong to a multinational household where we chant “USA!” with the same fervor that we chant the name of our neighbor country to the north. Actually, the joining of two countries, divided by a horizontal border, is very “in” in the 2018 games, as North and South Korea are going even one step further than my marriage is, competing in the games under a single, united flag.
(I must admit, though, that for this comparison to be most true, the north-south directions should be swapped — North Korea and America are the obvious equivalents here, with South Korea and Canada being our more stable neighbors. Such is the state of the world in 2018.)
But I’m not writing this column to discuss geopolitics — or indeed, even the games themselves, because let’s all just face it, sports are super boring most of the time, even if they do become a little bit more exciting whenever they involve figure skating or gymnastics.
The purpose of this column, and the single most important thing on my mind right now, as the Winter Olympics fill our television screens and our hearts, is to celebrate the greatest Olympic victory of all time: the album, “American Journey,” by composer John Williams, released on Jan. 15, 2002, in conjunction with the Winter Games in Salt Lake City. The CD cover features a snowy mountain under a clear blue sky, with a bald eagle soaring below the center of the image. If America itself had a horcrux, this phenomenal album would definitely be the object it chose to encapsulate its soul.