Monday, 31 January 2011

John Barry R.I.P.


John Barry has always been one of my favourite musicians and the news of his death today saddens me. I've mentioned Barry several times in this blog and given that he won five Oscars,I think it can safely be said that he was Britain's finest ever writer of film music.

John Barry will forever be associated with the music for James Bond, and rightly so, but he achieved so much more. Working with a variety of lyricists, including Don Black and the great Hal David, he produced some of the finest songs of the 60s. My personal favourite is 'We Have All the Time in the World', co-written with Hal David and sung by Louis Armstrong, of all people, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. And the best tune might just be 'The Girl with the Sun in her Hair', from You Only Live Twice, even though most people associate it with a TV commercial.

There's a drama and a dynamism about Barry's music that sets it apart. He's associated with lush, romantic sounds, but it's no coincidence that he wrote music for classic crime films and TV shows. His music is truly exciting.

Think of The Ipcress File, The Persuaders, and the magnificent score to that brilliant film Body Heat. All of them gain a great deal, in different ways, from Barry's music. There are plenty of other examples of his gifts from the crime genre, even before we come to Midnight Cowboy, Born Free and Dances with Wolves. A little while ago, I tried to find a DVD of one of his concerts - but there are none available. Astonishing. John Barry was a superstar among modern composers.

8 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - An excellent post on Barry and his music. His loss will be keenly felt.

aguja said...

Brilliant scores!

Anonymous said...

His score to Alice in Wonderland was a work of genius. I'm sure other composers have won Oscars for far less impressive work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO4dS7gq73U

RIP John Barry.

Bill Tackaberry said...

And didn't he also write the score for Stanley Baker's Zulu? Its main theme is one of the most stirring in all cinema - sends a shiver of excitement and anticipation through my spine every time I hear it!

Garry said...

He was the king!! May he rest in peace.....

Melody Fox said...

What sad news! (;o(*

**May he walk upon the stars, beyond Mars,
and still continue above the clouds
with different...crowds...** (km*copyright...written on the verge of the moment)

Even though I am a Rocker, I have always loved movie sound scores, and John Barry was on my top list: my favorite is his musical artwork from *Dances with Wolves*...I have the lp in vinyl and, while I am writing here, the music can be heard in my mind, so well is it impressed(even though I haven't listened to it in quite a while...Will go do it now, in tribute!)

Love Peace Music
Melody Fox (aka the Princess of Rock)
May you all walk in sunshine...

Melody Fox said...

hi Martin: happy February!
(;o)*
Melody Rock
LPM

Martin Edwards said...

Bill, yes he did write the Zulu score, among so many others. Alice, too, I like a lot.