The Music Of Star Wars: Ewok Throwdown / by Charlie Brigden

By Charlie Brigden swewokmain

Ewoks. Some hate them. Some dislike them. I think a few people might like them. One guy loves them. But whatever you think of those stubby assholes, they played an important part in ending the Star Wars trilogy, not least as distraction techniques for the Rebel soldiers, but also musically. Yub Nub!

As most know, 1983's Return of the Jedi ended with a massive party in the Ewok village, with the Ewoks themselves providing music diegetically - although they seemed to have a pretty good choir hidden away off-camera. Known on the soundtrack as 'Ewok Celebration' and by fans as 'Yub Nub', the musical side of the song stylistically follows the earlier Ewok music in the film (when Luke, Han, etc meet the Ewoks and are accepted into the tribe) with primitive percussion and wind instruments. Vocals, however, are a different story.

There are three known versions of 'Ewok Celebration': the version on the soundtrack, which is sung by Ewoks; the film version, which is sung by a choir; and an initial version which is sung by a choir in English. For those who aren't that familiar with this magical piece, here are the lyrics:

English:

Freedom, we got freedom; And now that we can be free, Come on and celebrate.

Power, we got power; And now that we can be free, It's time to celebrate.

Celebrate the freedom; Celebrate the power; Celebrate the glory; Celebrate the love.

Glory, we found glory. The power showed us the light, And now we all live free.

*Celebrate the light; (Freedom!) Celebrate the might; (Power!) Celebrate the fight; (Glory!) Celebrate the love. Celebrate the love. Celebrate the love.

Glory, we found glory. The power showed us the light, And now we all live free.

*Celebrate the light; (Freedom!) Celebrate the might; (Power!) Celebrate the fight; (Glory!) Celebrate the love. Celebrate the love. Celebrate the love. Celebrate the love.

Ewokese:

Yub nub, eee chop yub nub; Ah toe meet toe peechee keene, G'noop dock fling oh ah.

Yahwah, eee chop yahwah; Ah toe meet toe peechee keene, G'noop dock fling oh ah.

Coatee cha tu yub nub; Coatee cha tu yahwah; Coatee cha tu glowah; Allay loo ta nuv.

Glowah, eee chop glowah; Ya glowah pee chu nee foom, Ah toot dee awe goon daa.

*Coatee cha tu goo; (Yub nub!) Coatee cha tu doo; (Yahwah!) Coatee cha tu too; (Ya chaa!) Allay loo ta nuv, Allay loo ta nuv, Allay loo ta nuv.

Glowah, eee chop glowah. Ya glowah pee chu nee foom Ah toot dee awe goon daa.

Coatee cha tu goo; (Yub nub!) Coatee cha tu doo; (Yahwah!) Coatee cha tu too; (Ya chaa!) Allay loo ta nuv, Allay loo ta nuv, Allay loo ta nuv, Allay loo ta nuv.

Like 'Lapti Nek' (the original Jabba's Palace song), the English lyrics were written by John Williams' son Joseph, who is also the lead vocalist of rock band Toto. The lyrics were then translated into Ewokese by sound designer Ben Burtt, and it wasn't until recently when the English version suddenly showed up as part of the Star Wars convention Celebration Europe, and on the E-book version of J.W. Rinzler's The Making of Return of the Jedi. The amusing things is that many fans hate this song - or at least did hate it - for whatever reason, and were really vociferous in their hatred. That is, until about 1997.

And this is where it gets complicated. In 1997, George Lucas decided technology was up to speed for him to update Star Wars (which he had always said was unfinished) with computer graphics, and at the same time he decided to lay his hands on The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Going into those changes is going down a whole new rabbit hole so I'll ignore that, but there is one difference that is vitally relevant to this discussion. They changed the freaking Ewok song!

'Victory Celebration', as it's known on the soundtrack, is the new finale for ROTJ '97. As explained by Williams, it was created to accomodate the montage of worlds inserted into the celebration sequence showing their joy at gaining freedom from the Empire. Saying that, this isn't the first time that Lucas has made overtures to change the music, with tales of him asking various people for demos in 1983 for the scene. VC97 - as we'll call it - begins fairly similarly to EC83, although the tune is completely different, eschewing the bouncy and regal original for a more new age take.

It's a fine tune - still composed by Williams - and continues with the choral theme. But it's a hot potato amongst fans, and people have said that the original ending music fits more with the nature vs technology theme of the trilogy. I guess that's maybe true with the music side of things, although that theory takes a dive when the song is sung by a choir. Unless the best members of the Imperial Chorus defected to the Alliance. I'm not sure how many actually dislike the music or are just opposed to it because it was part of the Special Edition debacle, but either way fans are not kind to it. Truth be told though - as a piece of music, I prefer it.

Don't get me wrong, I'd prefer the original version in the film, just because I don't want any changes. Saying that, VC97 works just as well on film and has a warmer feel to it, with more of a sense of camaradarie perhaps. It's worth noting that the soundtrack version - released on the two-disc 1997 edition - is different than the film version; where on the soundtrack the first section of choir are children, in the film it dials this out to just the music and only plays the second section with the adult choir.

But what do you think? Tweet us, email us, let us know what your Ewok opinion is. This is important stuff, man. We need to know.

Allay loo ta nuv, friends. Allay loo ta nuv.