While Egypt burns with revolution, I’m mourning one of the soundtrack giants of our age. John Barry is arguably one of the most influential composers in cultural history. He had a distinct melodic gift as the greats usually do, and so important is his iconic theme for the James Bond series that I can’t conceive of them as being successful without them. Barry’s real power came from his sense of romantic melancholia, which perfectly vibes with Ian Fleming’s sad, sardonic 007 worldview, tweaked with espirit adventure of the age and genre. In other words, Barry could milk both tears and action. His pop-jazz influences always shone through as well as his perfect sense of Americana and epic grandeur. One of his best discs remains 1998’s “The Beyondness Of Things,” a full-length original using sections of his unwisely rejected score for “The Horse Whisperer.” There will be more Barry tributes here to come, but I love this clip of him conducting GOLDFINGER from 2001 before a vast audience. I’ll never forget the first time I visited Paris, and I found myself slightly lost through the winding cobble-stone streets under a full moon and a city festival, pockets of revelers on every corner. Yet I felt alone, disconnected from the reverie…because I was. A little drunk, I passed the glinting black Seine as the spires cast gothic silhouettes and I turned on the Walkman radio to find sonic solace. A French announcer spoke and suddenly the blasting brassy horns of the “Goldfinger” intro and Shirley Bassey’s voice filled my head. I laughed at the synchronicity and strolled on, the city suddenly more alive, dangerous, mysterious and yes, romantic. My wandering solitude was the natural state of affairs for a man in my position overseas for the first time; I had a fantastic night. Such was the power of John Barry’s music, my favorite film composer of all time.