When Bond & the Beatles
Shared Chords & the 60s

We’re not sure about you, but there was a time we thought we heard echoes of John Barry‘s famous soundtrack for the 007 film series in George Martin’s intro for “Help,” the song that named The Beatles’s second feature film. The thought arose again this past week with Barry’s passing, and it took us only a few strokes of the keyboard to find a link of sorts between the two themes.
The British soundtrack composer, who incidentally was married to Jane Birkin at some point, created distinctive themes for some of the most successful movies of the past 40 years. But besides “Born Free,” “Midnight Cowboy” and “Body Heat,” all released before most of those reading this note were even born, he’ll be forever remembered, of course, for the James Bond movies.
The signature chord progression that opens the credits for the popular series – whose authorship Barry had to defend in court – became a sonic icon for the era and in many cases, outclassed the films it illustrated.
Just like that other indelible British contribution to popular culture: The Beatles.
In 1965, Barry had already established his credentials with a string of highly visible soundtracks, and so had the boys from Liverpool. In fact, American-born Richard Lester directed both their second feature, which was released later that year, as well as their previous one.
At the same time, he also directed “The Knack – and How to Get It,” which is set to, but completely fails to capture, a certain Swinging London spirit going on at the time. Barry signed the half-forgotten soundtrack for that half-forgotten movie. But his collaboration with Lester somehow became the link that those who simply can not live without that sort of arcana have been longing to find for years.
We’re not members in good standing of that club, but even from the sidelines we can appreciate a good ol’ apocryphal sub-plot, an undiscovered bridge if you would, between two landmarks of a bygone era. And now that we completely sucked all the oxigen from the room, what about helping yourself with the music of John and John and Paul and all the others, and lighten up with a shaken, not stirred Martini?
By the way, does anyone even talk like that?

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