John Barry, the legendary film composer, passed away yesterday. He wrote the scores for 11 James Bond movies along with over 100 motion pictures. As someone who has been impacted by his work upon first hearing the soaring sounds of Out of Africa in 8th grade, I'd thought I'd share my personal favorites from his vast collection.
My wife and I used the main title from My Life on our wedding video. It's so sweet and stirring. I still can't hear this song without thinking of that video.
I loved all the Bond soundtracks scored by John Barry. But my two favorites are probably from two of the least favorite films. The main title in On Her Majesty's Secret Service is still awesome. It makes me want to get a machine gun, strap on some skis, and pretend I'm a secret agent. But even better than that is the magnificent "We Have All The Time In The World" as sung by Louis Armstrong. Those are the final words in the film, spoken after Bond loses his wife.
The Living Daylights is my other favorite Bond score, probably because it's one of the first I bought. John Barry composed the main theme with A-Ha, a band I liked then and still like now (and yes, they're still around).
Here's a bit of trivia for you. John Barry was supposed to do the soundtrack for The Horse Whisperer. For some reason director Robert Redford ended up rejecting Barry's score and went with Thomas Newman instead. I adore Newman's score and understand why Barry's didn't necessarily work. But Barry released The Beyondness of Things shortly after to share with fans some of the work he did on that movie. I love this album and have written to it many times. Somewhere In Time is quintessential Barry: haunting, melancholy, yet at the same time unabashedly romantic. It's as if Barry was trying to say that love comes with consequences, that loves comes with a price, that love can be soaring and sweet but won't last long and will end with sadness. (Or maybe that's just my take on his music . . . )
Dances With Wolves is epic in every sense. It's perfect for this film. There are small moments like the Wolf Theme that shows a tender moment between the main character is running around with Two Socks the wolf. Then there's the soaring "Journey To The Buffalo Killing Ground" that would be way too big for most scenes except for this one.
My parents used to play the theme of this in the car when I was little. I think that's one reason I fell in love with Barry. The main theme is still one that pops up in my head occasionally and is hard to get rid of. I still don't know if Indecent Proposal was a good movie or a bad one. I just know that it broke my heart in moments, and it did so because of the haunting piano melody by Barry. This is the perfect break-up song. I dare you to put it on while breaking up with someone.
Chaplin is another moving and melancholy score. I don't think I even saw the film but I loved the music. Out of Africa was one of the first movie soundtracks I heard that moved me. I remember when I heard it, too. I was in "love" with a girl named Sara from the basketball team (yes, corny but true). I was in eighth grade I believe. Sara's parents had bought the record and she put it on for me. Suddenly I imagined I was Robert Redford and I was in the midst of some great epic love story. Sara must not have thought that since we "broke up" not long after that. But thanks to that memorable moment, I've been in love with John Barry ever since.
Rest in peace, John Barry.
Labels: Favorite Things, John Barry, soundtracks