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John Drew

Composer John Barry dies at 77

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A giant of the film score world. What a loss. I kept hoping someone would convince him to come out of retirement and give us one last score. :(

His work on the Bond franchise is still absolutely remarkable. Say what you will about the merits of the franchise on the whole, but Barry's music for it is astonishing. Plenty of composers can mimic that sound, but nobody has succeeded in recreating or matching what Barry did with it. Just tremendous. And then he hit THE LION IN WINTER and things positively exploded for him.

Two of my favorite Barry cues:

Edited by Ryan H.

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His work on the Bond franchise is still absolutely remarkable. Say what you will about the merits of the franchise on the whole, but Barry's music for it is astonishing.

Agreed. I find that his music for the series is often better than whatever movie it's attached to. Case in point: You Only Live Twice. The score is romantic and exotic and thrilling--three things the movie absolutely is not.

Edited by NBooth

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YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE was the first Bond film I ever saw, and it was quite magnificent to a young boy of about nine or ten. I still get quite a kick out of it. The over-the-top weirdness of it all (it was written by Roald Dahl!) goes over well with me, even though it's hampered by a sleepwalking, please-let-me-out-of-here Connery performance. But yes, the best thing about it is absolutely Barry's score. It's probably Barry's best Bond score, in fact (the competition for that spot, in my mind, would be ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE or perhaps MOONRAKER). And Ken Adam's production design is pretty remarkable, too.

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I'm sitting with a glass of Lagavulin and listening to ThisWay Mary.

Barry had the rare ability to find humour in the darkest material. I think his work will endure.

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I was quite surprised when I read of the news. True shame.

He was a great composer. I'll be giving "You Only Live Twice" a listen tonight in his honor.

Rest in peace.

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The 'Two Socks' theme from Dances with Wolves is the only piece I can play on the piano with both hands, from memory.

I was sad to hear of his death yesterday. And, sad to say, he isn't the first Bond composer to pass on; Michael Kamen (who scored 1989's Licence to Kill) also passed away in 2003.

The survivors, at this point, are:

  • Monty Norman, 82 -- Dr. No, 1962
  • George Martin, 85 -- Live and Let Die, 1973
  • Marvin Hamlisch, 66 -- The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977
  • Bill Conti, 68 -- For Your Eyes Only, 1981
  • Eric Serra, 51 -- GoldenEye, 1995
  • David Arnold, 49 -- every Bond movie since Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997

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Mark Steyn has posted a two-part, 139-minute podcast on John Barry:

For the first of our summer audio specials, we celebrate the work of James Bond’s music man and the composer who defined the sound of spy music. John Barry died earlier this year, and we had so much response to Mark’s 007 double-bill Song of the Week that he decided it would be nice to hear a bit more of the music, and also some of the stories behind it from John’s friends and colleagues. So to discuss the Barry style Mark rounded up two Oscar-winning lyricists and a composer. All three were part of the big memorial concert last Monday night at the Royal Albert Hall in London, so, if you couldn't get tickets, we hope you'll dial up our podcast as the next best thing:

Tim Rice and Don Black were guests on our Christmas Show two years ago, when they touched briefly on their Bond songs. Tim is best-known as the lyricist of Evita, Aladdin and The Lion King, but he also collaborated with John Barry on the theme song for Octopussy. And Don has written more James Bond lyrics than anybody else, from Thunderball to The Man With The Golden Gun, Diamonds Are Forever to The World Is Not Enough.

Joining Tim and Don is David Arnold, the composer of Independence Day, Godzilla, the remake of Shaft, Hot Fuzz, Voyage Of The Dawn Treader and the TV series Little Britain. But he’s also John Barry’s successor in the James Bond music chair. He’s composed every Bond picture of the last 15 years, from Tomorrow Never Dies to A Quantum Of Solace, and is about the only person other than Judi Dench’s M to survive the transition from the Pierce Brosnan era to the Daniel Craig regime. He also made an album of Bond songs, Shaken And Stirred.

Our two-part special provides over two great hours of music and conversation. We’ll track Bond themes from You Only Live Twice, Moonraker, A View To A Kill and many more performed by Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Lulu, Rita Coolidge, Duran Duran, A-Ha and, of course, Shirley Bassey. We’ll also hear Barry songs performed by Frank Sinatra, Tom Petty, Anthony Newley, Kanye West, Iggy Pop, Pulp, Coldplay, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, plus TV themes like “The Persuaders”, other Barry film scores from The Ipcress File to Out Of Africa, and the world’s greatest shampoo commercial.

In
of the show, Tim Rice delves into the John Barry Seven’s raucous pop career, Don Black distinguishes the anatomical origins of “Diamonds Are Forever” from the non-anatomical origins of “Thunderball”, David Arnold takes us behind a unique moment in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – and Mark explores the evolution of the James Bond theme from Dr No to The Living Daylights.

In
, Tim explains why the Octopussy song isn’t called “Octopussy”, Don recalls his and John Barry’s Oscar-winning song “Born Free”, David picks some favorite moments from Barry’s later orchestral scores – and Steyn sings “Goldfinger”.

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