Former WWE composer Jim Johnston wrote many iconic themes for the company during his 32-year tenure. The Undertaker's, in particular, has forged a legacy all unto itself.
Speaking with Kiwi Talkz, Johnston explained that the song evokes a feeling of sorrow within him and that it, in turn, informed the way he saw the character.
"Undertaker is simple but there's also a complexity to it as well. It isn't like it's really, complex chord changes; it's just simple in E minor. It's a nursery rhyme, really, in how I wrote it because it's the only thing I could figure out it sounded like… I was gonna say that it's the only thing that sounds like death, but it doesn't really sound like death. To me, it sounds more like sorrow, and I always found that was an interesting part of how I saw Undertaker's character. We don't know what happened to this guy or how he got here, but it probably was not all good," said Johnston. There was probably some sad stuff that happened to him. So when I did this nursery rhyme thing, it just fit for some reason."
When people think of The Undertaker's entrance, however, they think about more than just the music. It starts with the lights turning off. Then the bell tolls. There's also fog, thunder, wide-brimmed hats, trench coats, and a long walk to the ring that all coalesces into this one perfectly mystical package. Johnston agrees, though, that if you remove one piece of the equation, the rest likely doesn't add up the way that it did.
The interviewer then proceeded to compare The Undertaker (and his entrance music) with Darth Vader and John Williams' Imperial March. Johnston agreed that there are clear connections to be made between the Deadman and George Lucas' space-opera, saying the following:
"I think there is a really strong parallel with the Star Wars theme. There's an incredibly fine line in that kind of stuff between, 'Boy, does this work! This is great!' And, 'This is absolutely laughable!' It's like, 'We're supposed to believe this guy is dead because he wears a long, black, leather jacket? How stupid do you think we are?' I think about it in the same light as Darth Vader. It completely works yet the guy in the suit is not even Darth Vader. It's a different voice and a different guy."
h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
The full discussion also includes talk about The Rock, the WWE Hall of Fame, composing film scores, and much more.
As for The Undertaker, he recently announced his retirement and celebrated the 30th anniversary of his debut at Survivor Series 1990. It is unclear what he will do next, but Triple H has said that there have been talks about him joining the staff at WWE's Performance Center.