John Barry

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.

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9 Responses to “John Barry”

  1. a remembrance :

    my first trip to LA, sleeping on your green couch.

    one evening, you talked about john barry, how you wanted to get his album, the beyondness of things. we went to ameoba, i think, or this other big store on la brea, can t remember the name. you got the album. you were so happy. you spent a day, just staring at the cover without opening it. a man, on a shore, looking across space and time. then you went to your room, you listened to the album for a few days. you didn’t share it and i was ok with it. we all have our privacies. it was intimate.

    then we went to venice beach. and we walked across the grounds, sometimes silent. then, abruptly, you stopped, you saw something. there, up there. or down there. below. whatever. from my viewpoint, the image and the cover of the record blurred into one beautiful sunset, complete with gulls.

    this album, i never, ever, listened to, for fear of losing the perfect, romantic idea of it. because this was the music, here, on this sand.

  2. Marvelous tribute to one of the all-time greats, christian. Well done.

  3. Coincidentally, I’ve been watching the Bond films from the beginning. I’m up to GOLDFINGER, ready for THUNDERBALL. (We’ll see how much Moore I can take.) Yes, they’re utterly impossible to imagine without Barry’s contribution.

    Great anecdote about Paris, followed by David’s comment. Micro stories in blog format, perfectly accompanied by Beyondness via Youtube. And now I’m all melancholy, like. Sigh.

  4. juts rewatched WALKABOUT yesterday.

    heart breaking. for everything.

  5. […] Barry. I highly recommend the blog salutes by friends John Kenneth Muir , Steven Hart, and christian highlighting why this famed English music arranger/composer mattered so heavily in […]

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