Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Danny Elfman Once Called ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ His Easiest Job Ever

Danny Elfman Once Called ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ His Easiest Job Ever

While once reflecting on his work on The Nightmare Before Christmas, composer Danny Elfman admitted that he considers the Tim Burton film to be his easiest job ever. 

During a 2015 interview with The Los Angeles Times, Elfman spoke about how easy his job was while working with Burton on the cult classic. “Tim would show me sketches and drawings,” Elfman recalled. “And he would tell me the story, describe it in bits of phrases and words. And I would say, ‘Yeah I got it.’ Three days later, I had a song.” 

Danny Elfman also said that he felt a sense of similarities between him and The Nightmare Before Christmas’ main character, Jack Skellington. While working on the film, Elfman was dealing with issues surrounding his former group Oingo Boingo. He had been with the group for 20 years at that point.

“It was exactly the time of my life where I was saying to the band that this might be my last year,” he explained. They didn’t believe me, but I felt like Jack from where I was in life… I was writing my own feelings of being the king of my own world and from which I wanted out.” 

Danny Elfman Talked About the ‘Horrible Reviews’ About ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Music

In October 2022, Danny Elfman admitted he was confused about the popularity of The Nightmare Before Christmas music.

“I have no idea,” he declared to Yahoo! Entertainment. “Because when I wrote it, nobody understood it. I got horrible reviews for it. Disney didn’t know what to make of it. How could Disney know what to make of it? They did a preview with kids who were expecting The Little Mermaid and they got an unfinished version of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Ultimately Disney decided to release The Nightmare Before Christmas under its Touchstone Picture group due to the studio thinking the film would be “too dark and scary” for children. The film was a modest success, scoring $100.1 million in the box against a $24 million budget. Eventually, The Nightmare Before Christmas (and its music) continued to grow in popularity and Disney ended up re-releasing it a few times, including this year

“To [Disney’s] credit, a decade later, they saw that there’s this weird Nightmare cult that never went away,” Elfman continued. “And they reinvigorated their energy behind it, really to their credit. Because that’s rare. Generally, a studio would go, ‘No, that ship has sailed.’ And in this case, they came back and said, ‘No, let’s put energy into it again. There’s something there that never died, that never quite went away.’ And I’m so grateful for that.”