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John Barry footnote

February 7, 2011
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When John Barry died last week, most media reports called him a “Bond composer”, or claimed that he was best known for the work he did on numerous James Bond films. I suppose this is fair – he wrote music for 12 Bond films, after all, although the authorship of the actual “Bond theme” remains murky.

I had always assumed that he was best known for writing the music for “Out of Africa” – the orchestral score has remained a radio staple, while memories of the movie seem to be fading away. He was also well known for the “Born Free” and “Dances with Wolves” scores, with the Bond stuff more of a career footnote than anything else (for the record, I think “You Only Live Twice” has the best score of all the Bond films).

But a better example of a career footnote would be his score for “The Black Hole” – what I would argue is the greatest music score ever written for a terrible movie. I’m not sure what the competition is – but it is a really great score, worthy of a far better movie. In the age of YouTube, it has become ubiquitous around the web, with commenters inevitably asking “Where does that come from?”

And course, he wrote a bunch of other stuff as well – “Midnight Cowboy”, “Body Heat”, “Zulu”, etc. But in all the various obits I read, there was no mention at all of “The Black Hole” – fortunately, YouTubers didn’t forget it:

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