R.I.P. John Barry: Appreciating the Composer's Widespread Legacy

Categories: R.I.P.
1985_PIANO80.jpg
Good evening, Mr. Bond

British composer John Barry has died at age 77 of a heart attack, leaving behind three ex-wives and a widow, four Grammys, a few Oscars, an Order of the British Empire, and -- most importantly -- a wealth of lush, evocative film scores. You'd surely recognize his work from the Bond theme, but perhaps you have also seen Out of Africa? Or Body Heat? Or Peggy Sue Got Married? (Or the end of the Simpsons "Whacking Day" episode, where the theme from Born Free plays as the snakes slither into the sunset?) Or, perhaps more likely, you have listened to a pop song that samples some of Barry's work?

To begin with the obvious, his theme to the Bond flick Diamonds Are Forever, sung by Shirley Bassey, is the basis for the Kanye West/Jay-Z joint "Diamonds From Sierra Leone":


Another memorable poaching: Mono's "Life In Mono," the modishly moody single from the Great Expectations soundtrack, wraps itself around the title theme from the Michael Caine thriller The IPCRESS File.



And what about the sinister undertow in the Sneaker Pimps' beloved proto-tronica single "Six Underground"? From a tune on Barry's soundtrack to Goldfinger.



And so on in this fashion. That steely surf guitar in Fatboy Slim's "The Rockafeller Skank"? Barry. That chord progression halfway through Snoop Dogg's wow-this-is-awkward engagement anthem "Wet"? Bond. The chiming melody in The Prodigy's "Mindifields"? Barry again. Dr. Dre's "Big Egos"? Check. Robbie Williams's "You Know Me"? Indeed.

You get the idea. And if you think about it, this is a pretty neat kind of success for a composer: to be outlived by your sounds, embedded so deep in all kinds of places that even if your name is eventually forgotten your fingerprints will never be completely erased from the culture.

----
Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Daniel Levin Becker @dlb, and like us at Facebook.com/SFAllShookDown.

My Voice Nation Help
3 comments
phantomstranger
phantomstranger

I am surprised that the author of the article left out other soundtracks that John Barry worked on such as “Dancing With Wolves”, “The Black Hole”, King Kong” “Zulu” and of course “Born Free”. This article reflects the author youth and inexperience when it comes to music journalism. For a much better article please refer to”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J...

John Barry will always go down in my book as one of the coolest people for what he did for Composers Monty Norman and David Arnold. Even though all the credits for “The James Bond Theme” says composed by Monty Norman, the actual theme that he wrote was rejected by EMI. John Barry was asked to compose a theme and came up with his of which he recorded one that was used for the album and another version recorded for the single and has been the used for every James Bond movie. The Actual credits should read composed by John Barry and Vic Flick. The theme that Norman composed is on the “Dr. No” album on side 2, track 8. Both CD versions are mastered from the electronically reprocessed stereo versions. The only one that actually sounds the best is the original album in mono. If during the court case that John Barry claimed he and Flick composed the song it would have devastated Norman.

Not only that but he had a hand in the Orchestration for this song by Matt Monroe, produced by George Martin (who also produced the Beatles and others).http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

I’d like to see someone from “American Idol” try to attempt this song.

SanityClause
SanityClause

Dude, skip all that nonsense. Where's a reference to "The Knack"?

BobAKABuffy
BobAKABuffy

Would it kill you folks to proofread a TITLE? John Berry vs. John Barry...two different musicians.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Drink

San Francisco Event Tickets
©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...