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    I’ve struggled for YEARS with the sheer shittiness of Elfman’s Wikipedia page – Oingo Boingo-focused more than 20 years after the band disbanded, riddled with grammar and syntax errors to the point of incoherency, historically vague and often inaccurate, negligently sourced, all but ignoring his film score work outside of Burton, almost nothing about concert music which he has now been doing for more 15 years, and a discography sub-page that (poorly) combined recordings of his music with a half-hearted attempt at a comprehensive list of compositions.

    And I blame myself.

    Every time I went to fix things, I quickly gave up when realizing just how massive and overwhelming the process would be. I always rested on the fact that it was “just Wikipedia” and anyone with any ounce of sense knows that it is not a reliable source and cannot trusted to be accurate or up-to-date. Then I would run to Bond’s ‘Danse Macabre’ or Halfyard’s ‘Danny Elfman’s Batman’ anytime I needed an answer that I couldn’t get from a Google News search.

    But here’s the sad truth: today many casually curious people (and increasingly junior journalists) rely solely on Wikipedia for information and draw all the knowledge they’d ever hope to glean from whatever is currently on the crowd-sourced platform. This is exacerbated by search algorithms that now make Wikipedia the first page that pops up when you search for almost anything to do with Elfman. I sort of blame Elfman and his management for this since there wasn’t an official website until about a year ago, but blame isn’t constructive or corrective, and things were only getting worse.

    I’ve had a few weeks of down time, and with a standing desk as my launch pad and utter disaffection with a world outside of my control, I’ve overhauled the whole kit and noodle-busting caboodle from top-to-bottom. Or rather from inside out.

    The first project was to decouple the compositions from the recordings in the discography page, and expand, better organize and source as much as possible in a separate page. Voilà!:

    Second, I needed to update the main discography page to only feature recordings because that is, after all, the meaning of discography. I don’t know if anyone here has ever worked with tables in Wikipedia before, but it hurts, especially if you’re not using the visual editor, which I didn’t know existed until yesterday. The result: – not quite as exciting as the compositions list, but it has a few odds and ends that may be interesting for the completist. Probably needs to be better sourced, but I’m tired.

    Lastly, and most laboriously, I’ve been slowly updating the main page, especially the “Career” section and doubly especially the “Film scoring” subsection. (I’ve copied and pasted where the page was as of October 1 below just for Schlitz celestes and giggles.)

    There’s obviously a ways to go on this (I haven’t even touched the “Influences” section and I’m thinking there may be enough to even expand it to “Influences and style” since so much has been written of late with the concert works), but I think I managed to cram as many key scores in there (and interwiki link all those mofos) without being too wordy but also without being just a laundry list while getting some evocative sense of Elfman’s scope of work. More sourcing here is also needed, but can probably draw from the 50 or so I’ve already added.

    Ultimately two things that I think the “Early life” and “Career” can and should accomplish. First is to dispel the pervasive myth that Elfman started scoring films in the 1980s with no training. As we all know he had no “formal” training, but the man had over ten years of creating and performing music before he mocked up the first demos for Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. He was a composer and musician well before he was a film musician.

    The second is to illustrate as succinctly and with as much accessibility as possible the depth of Elfman’s musical contribution to film music, his evolution as composer and the incredible variety of styles and modes that he moves between. To this end, I’d also like new fans and the general population who are curious to get a sense of (and maybe get inspired by) his ethnomusicological underpinnings and his championship and furthering of the art of film music generally (hence the need to expand the “Influences” section, though I’ve tried to seed a couple of bits here and there).

    Here’s where this group comes in. Do I want a pat on the back? Yes. But more importantly, I would love for you to pursue the “List of compositions” page and the “Career” section of the main page when you have a moment and let me know if you find any glaring errors or omissions. I’m traveling for the next few weeks with likely little access to internet, but I can probably make a few updates and also keep an eye on things in the event that some crazed OB fan reverts it back to the stone ages, i.e. early October. Thank you for your help and apologies for length! –Shannon


    In 1985, Tim Burton and Paul Reubens invited Elfman to write the score for their first feature film, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Elfman was apprehensive at first, because of his lack of formal training, but with orchestration assistance from Oingo Boingo guitarist and arranger Steve Bartek, he achieved his goal of emulating the mood of such composers as Nino Rota and Bernard Herrmann.[17] In the booklet for the first volume of Music for a Darkened Theatre, Elfman described the first time he heard his music played by a full orchestra as one of the most thrilling experiences of his life. Elfman immediately developed a rapport with Burton[17] and has gone on to score all but three of Burton’s major studio releases: Ed Wood, which was under production while Elfman and Burton were having a serious disagreement,[18] Sweeney Todd and, most recently, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Elfman also provided the singing voice for Jack Skellington in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and the voices of both Barrel and the “Clown with the Tear-Away Face”. In 1990, Elfman composed the iconic orchestra piece, “Ice Dance”, for the Tim Burton film Edward Scissorhands. Years later he provided the voice for Bonejangles the skeleton in Corpse Bride and the voices of the Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

    In 2002 Elfman composed the soundtracks for the Sam Raimi Spider-Man series, except for Spider-Man 3, to which he contributed a variety of work on the soundtrack, but did not compose the soundtrack.

    In October 2013, Elfman returned to the stage to sing his vocal parts to a handful of Nightmare Before Christmas songs as part of a concert titled Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton.[19][20] He composed the film score for Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), and composed additional music for Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) together with Brian Tyler.

    Elfman composed the score for all three of the Fifty Shades films (2015–2018).[21]

    Elfman’s film scores were featured in the 2017 production SCORE: A Film Music Documentary. Also that year, he took over the place of composer in the DCEU’s Justice League and was able to reprise parts of his own score from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman for the new incarnation of the character.[22][23][24]


    Dude…duuuuude…this is huge. I’ve done some very light editing on Wikipedia in the past and boy, can I imagine your pain handling the tables.

    I will review the pages but will also help enriching them in the future for upcoming work and releases.

    Thank you !


    Thanks man! When I was in the slog asking myself why the heck I was spending so much time doing this, I kept thinking back a 10 or 11 year-old me in the late 1980s slogging through microfiche at my local Kansas library to find any articles I could about Elfman. This is for the now and future generation of uber fans!

    That said, expanded “Influences” and added a “Process” section, and think my work is officially done. I guess until DOOLITTLE comes out. 😀


    That’s awesome, sajrocks! I’ll have a look at it at next available moment.

    Not to tout my own horn, but I think my elaborate buyer’s guide for FSM (in two parts — first in last print issue, second in first online issue — and then some subsequent FSM articles to fill it out) covers his work up to and including 2005, for anyone looking for reference. Of course, a lot has happened since then, so in the absence of a “vol. 3”, any updates from 2005-2019 are very welcome.

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