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Composer John Barry.

Composer John Barry. He's best known for his 11 James Bond scores, including "Goldfinger," and "Thunderball." Barry has won five Oscars: for the song and score of "Born Free," and for scores for "Lion in Winter," "Out of Africa," and "Dances with Wolves." He has a new CD compilation of his work, "John Barry: The Hits & The Misses" (Play it Again label).

44:17

Other segments from the episode on March 23, 1999

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, March 23, 1999: Interview with John Barry; Review of the album "The West Coast Jazz Box."

Transcript

Show: FRESH AIR
Date: MARCH 23, 1999
Time: 12:00
Tran: 032301np.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: John Barry
Sect: Entertainment
Time: 12:06

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- SCENE FROM UNIDENTIFIED JAMES BOND FILM)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Who are you?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Bond. James Bond.

James Bond's image as the ultra cool spy was enhanced by the cool theme music that was always playing behind him. My guest composer John Barry wrote that music. He wrote the scores for 11 Bond films, and wrote such memorable Bond theme songs as "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball."

Barry has scored about a hundred films. He won Oscars for his music for "The Lion in Winter," "Born Free," "Out of Africa," and "Dances with Wolves." Before we talk about his Bond scores let's hear about his new CD, which is unusual in that it is orchestral music that he wrote to stand alone not to accompany a film.

The CD is called "The Beyondness of Things." Here is the opening.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- MUSIC COMPOSED BY JOHN BARRY)

GROSS: John Barry, it seems to me that most of the music on this new CD, "The Beyondness of Things," is much more reflective and, I'd go so far to say, as even romantic than what your most famous work from the James Bond movies which is much more action oriented.

JOHN BARRY, COMPOSER: Right.

GROSS: Did you get tired of doing that?

BARRY: It -- I loved it initially, you know, and was very enthusiastic about it. But after -- after 11 scores where the format remains almost the same I just felt that I'd had my day and it was not going anywhere further for me. It had lost its interest.

So I think it was better to pass the thing on to -- and also the style has now really changed radically. I mean, when you see the last couple of James Bond movies the style has become very different. I mean, if you run "Goldfinger" and you run the last one together, stylistically they are totally different movies now.

GROSS: Yeah, where you started was this kind of mix of rock guitar and Bassie.

BARRY: Right. Yeah. I mean, I studied with Bill Russo, who was Stan Kenton's composer and arranger, and I did a correspondence course with him when I was in the army and he was in Chicago. And I loved that Kenton band. I loved that brass.

GROSS: Mmm-hmm.

BARRY: And so it's a peculiar -- I mean, the James Bond thing was a peculiar mixture of that low rock guitar figure, if you like, and the brass sound was like the Kenton band. And then the bridge, "da da dop de dop doo de doo lee da de da," is almost like a Dizzy Gillespie be-bop phrase, you know.

So it was this kind of hybrid of all these kind of things that I was involved with at the time. And I must say I didn't give it too much thought. I didn't have too much time to give it a lot of thought. And it just came out like it did, you know. I didn't sit down and intellectualize about it, and I've never read a James Bond book.

I'd only seen like a cartoon strip that they used to have in the "Daily Mail" in England. So I knew it was about a spy. I knew roughly what the essence was, but I never saw the movie. I just wrote the damn thing, you know.

GROSS: Well, I love this music so we have to, right now, hear the "James Bond Theme." This is the John Barry Orchestra.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- THE JOHN BARRY ORCHESTRA PERFORMING THE "JAMES BOND THEME")

GROSS: I love it. It's an odd chord at the end, isn't it? That chord that hangs suspended there.

BARRY: Yeah, it was. It was laid on fourth and then that "pa ya ya." I mean, it's such a concoction. It's like when you start making a soup and you don't know really where you're going but you make in the end kind of taste OK, you know.

GROSS: Now straighten me out here.

BARRY: Yes.

GROSS: The official composer listed on the credits is Monty Norman.

BARRY: Yes, my God.

GROSS: What's the short version of the story?

BARRY: I'll answer the question by asking a question.

GROSS: Yes.

BARRY: Which is, if I didn't write it why did they employ me for the next 11 movies?

LAUGHTER

GROSS: Right.

BARRY: No more to be said.

GROSS: I used to love seeing the openings of the movies, you know, in the Sean Connery days when the series was new. And, you know, the music would start and then Sean Connery would walk onto the screen and then turn around and pull out his gun as the music swelled behind him.

BARRY: Right. Right.

GROSS: That was so exciting. What did you think the first time you saw the music with the whole James Bond -- you know, with the whole Sean Connery thing in it?

BARRY: Well, when I wrote the theme I was given the timing I wasn't given any action sequence. I didn't know what they looked like or whatever. So I then -- and it was like the movie was in release in three weeks time. It was what we call a "wet print" when it went into the theaters because it was so behind.

And then it opened at the Pavilion in Piccadilly in London, and I went on a Sunday afternoon and saw it. And that was the first time I'd ever seen "Dr. No." And instead of it -- and I understood then that I was just writing the main title theme.

Then every time he says, "I'm Bond. James Bond." It laid it in all over the damn place. And it worked. I mean, there's no -- with film there's no middle ground, you know. It either works or it doesn't. You know, there's no -- there's no, well, it works a little.

I mean, a good score is a score that really works 100 percent where you just hit all the buttons.

GROSS: My guest is John Barry. He wrote the scores for 11 James Bond films and about 90 other films, including "Midnight Cowboy," "Dances with Wolves," and "Out of Africa." His new CD is called "The Beyondness of Things." We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

BREAK

GROSS: My guest is composer John Barry. He wrote the scores for about a hundred films, including 11 James Bond movies.

Now you not only did the scores for 11 James Bond films, you wrote the title songs for the films. I want to play one of those title songs. This is "Goldfinger" sung by Shirley Bassey.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- TITLE THEME FROM THE JAMES BOND FILM "GOLDFINGER" SUNG BY SHIRLEY BASSEY AND COMPOSED BY JOHN BARRY)

Goldfinger he's the man
The man with the Midas touch
A spider's touch
Such a cold finger

Beckons you
To enter his web of sin
But don't go in
Golden words he will pour in your ear

But his life can't disguise what you fear
For a golden girl
Knows when he's kissed her
It's the kiss of death

From Mr. Goldfinger

GROSS: That's Shirley Bassey singing the theme from "Goldfinger." The song and the score written by my guest John Barry.

What were you told that the theme song should convey?

BARRY: Well, nobody told me anything. "Goldfinger" was the -- "Dr. No" and "From Russia with Love" -- Lionel Bart wrote the song "From Russia with Love" because he'd...

GROSS: ...he's most famous for "Fly Me to the Moon."

BARRY: No. No. No. No. No. No.

GROSS: No. No. I'm sorry, the score from "Oliver" then.

BARRY: The score from "Oliver." "Oliver" had just opened, yeah, you're thinking of...

GROSS: ...Bart Howard.

BARRY: Yeah, Bart Howard. Right. So he had just finished "Oliver" and he was like riding the top, and rightly so. And I hadn't -- though I'd had instrumental hits, I hadn't had song hits. So they said we want Lionel Bart. So I said absolutely, fine.

So I orchestrated all the stuff for the song with Matt Monroe, etcetera. And used the theme throughout the movie. But "Goldfinger" was the first time they gave me the full shot at the whole damn thing.

GROSS: Were you told, "make this theme sexually insinuating?"

BARRY: No, they really left you alone. They really just -- they said go away and write it. So I never discussed with the director or the producers. I discussed it with myself, and I thought well what is this about? It's a song about a villain.

And then I started to reflect historically -- there's no songs about villains. You don't -- you know, people don't sit down and write songs about villains. They write love songs. They write sad songs. They write torch songs, whatever.

But songs about villains are very rare. And then I thought of Kurt Weill's "Mack the Knife," which is the definitive song about a villain. So then I got my head on right, and I thought that's the definitive song. He managed to bring off the most extraordinary song about a villain.

And so I sat down and wrote this rather strange melody just based on the word "Goldfinger" as the opening line. And then I thought well, who can write a lyric to this? So Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse had also just got a huge theatrical success in England called "Stop the World I Want to Get Off."

And I knew Tony very well. I phoned him and I said, "look, I've written this song -- I've written the melody but I haven't got the song. I'd like to meet with you." I went out to his home in Hampstead, played him it, and he said, "well what the hell is it all about?"

And I said, "it's `Mack the Knife.' It's a song about the villain." And he said, "got it." Then -- I'd worked with Shirley in concerts. I'd done concert tours with her, and she was very big in England at that time. And Shirley has this one thing, she has such conviction about what she does.

So I played her this song and she said, "what the hell is this about?" I said, "it's about a villain, Shirley. Don't think too much about it, Shirley. Just go into the studio and convince the world that you know what you're doing. And you can do that, because I've worked with you in the theater and you do this better than anybody else I know."

We then went in and recorded it. And originally it just started off with a chorus, "de dum." And there was no "by ya ya ya ya." That wasn't there then. And we had a break, they went up for their 10 minute tea break, and in the tea break I just found it. What we were playing, it was empty, so I sat down at the piano and I came up with "da ya na na da." And did it on wah-wah trumpets.

We put that in, which just kind of brought it to life. And then we repeated it down the line. When Harry Saltzman heard it...

GROSS: ...he's one of the producers.

BARRY: He was one of the producers. Harry -- I can't tell you what he said.

LAUGHTER

GROSS: He hated it, huh?

BARRY: He said, "that is the worst `mmm-mmm' song I have ever heard in my `mmm-mmm' life. But we're stuck with it because we don't have any time and the movie's coming out." And Guy Hamilton, who was the director, was -- you know, he was in the Air Force. He was one of the few who fought the Battle of Britain, and he's very proper. And a very splendid man.

He said, "well, I don't know whether it's going to be a hit or not, Harry, but I know dramatically it works for the movie." And Cubby Broccoli said, "I like it. I like it. Let's do it. Let's do it."

GROSS: Now you mentioned that Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley wrote the lyric for "Goldfinger." There's actually a terrific Anthony Newley recording that was released a few years ago on a...

BARRY: ...yeah, well -- sorry. Sorry, go on.

GROSS: Well, I want to play this in a second. It wasn't released until a few years ago on a kind of re-issue compilation.

BARRY: No, because I -- when we'd done the record they said, how do we demonstrate it to them. So I went in the studio with Tony and a bass and a bongo. I think that was the full orchestration. And I love Tony's recording, and I would have loved for that to have been in the movie. And that's maybe why they didn't get the drift of it in the initial thing, you know. I love Tony's recording.

GROSS: I think this version is a little more orchestrated than bass and bongo. And this is a much more kind of sneaky vocal version than the really brassy Shirley Bassey one.

BARRY: That's right. Exactly.

GROSS: So here's Anthony Newley.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- ANTHONY NEWLEY SINGING TITLE SONG TO THE JAMES BOND FILM "GOLDFINGER")

Goldfinger
He's the man the man with the Midas touch
The spider's touch
Such a cold finger

Beckons you
To enter his web of sin
But don't go in
Golden words he will pour in your ear

But his lies can't disguise what you fear
For a golden girl knows when he's kissed her
It's the kiss of death
From Mr. Goldfinger

GROSS: Oh, that is really great.

BARRY: I love that. I love Tony. I mean, God, does he know how to point a lyric out? I just love him.

GROSS: It's too bad that wasn't released at the time. I think it could have done well.

BARRY: I would have thought so.

GROSS: That wasn't you playing trumpet on there was it?

BARRY: No. No. No. No, it wasn't. And it was just guitar and a little -- you know what? I think we did it twice. I think that's when we went back in. We did it just first with bongos and bass, and obviously somebody has that recording somewhere. And I think then we went back in and just made it slightly more substantial.

GROSS: Did the success of "Goldfinger" make it obligatory to have a theme with lyrics for each of the subsequent James Bond films?

BARRY: Well, why I always demanded writing the music first was that when you see the whole of the movie of "Goldfinger" the theme runs throughout the movie, even the whole Fort Knox sequence at the end. So I love -- I don't like a song stuck on the beginning of the movie because it's just a song. And then it has nothing to do with the rest of the movie, which is what happens today.

All the Bond songs I integrated completely into the score from "You Only Live Twice," "Thunderball," "Diamonds Are Forever." They were the main title song, but they were also the genesis of the rest of the score.

GROSS: There's something about your "Goldfinger" score -- songs that remind me a little bit of the Frankie Lane movie themes. Those big Western anthems that he used to sing.

BARRY: Well, it's kind of -- I did one or two interviews with the English press at the time and they said, "well what is it?" And I said, "it's million dollar Mickey Mouse music."

LAUGHTER

Because it's -- and it's Wagnerian. I mean, the whole opening of "Goldfinger" is like this very pretentious, you know, I mean it's -- but that was of fun of it. And as Fred Astaire said, "give it size. Give it style. And give it class." And that's like an incredible Bible to follow. And hopefully that's what we did.

We just made everything larger-than-life and we made it a lot of fun. So everybody went in -- they knew he was going to get the broad, he'd kill the villain, he'd be happy. And that was the formula. And we enjoyed it on that level.

GROSS: John Barry will be back in the second half of the show. His new CD is called "The Beyondness of Things."

I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESH AIR.

BREAK

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Back with composer John Barry. He wrote the scores for 11 James Bond films and won Oscars for his scores for the "Lion in Winter," "Born Free," "Out of Africa" and "Dances with Wolves." He has a new CD called "The Beyondness of Things." When we left off we were talking about his James Bond movie scores.

There's one more James Bond song that I have to get in here, and that's "Thunderball." The theme from "Thunderball" sung by Tom Jones. I think this is just a particularly fun one also.

BARRY: Well, there's a kind of fascinating story behind that, because that is probably the worst title for a song you can imagine.

GROSS: Oh, exactly.

BARRY: You know. And I spoke to Tony Newley about it, actually, and he said, "what do we do?" `Thunderball. Marvelous. You should care for me. Thunderball.'"

LAUGHTER

So I said, "that's not going to work. I think somebody already did that." So it was such an abstract title. So they were shooting down in Nassau -- Nassau the island. They were doing all that stuff down there.

And I flew down there, and on the way down I was reading a magazine and it said that the Italians had a name for James Bond now, which was "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." Which I thought was really terrific.

So I thought instead of using the word "thunderball," why don't we write a song called "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." Cubby absolutely loved it. Harry loved it. Everybody fell in love with it. So I recorded it. I recorded it with Dionne Warwick. We recorded it with Shirley.

And then the powers that be at United Artists in New York, literally two weeks before the movie opened, phoned up and said, "we need that `Goldfinger' thing. We need that title over the radio. And `Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' isn't doing it. We need `Thunderball.'"

So I called up Don Black and I said, "look I got this -- we've got to do this in like no time whatsoever." So I said, "what does it mean?" And he said, "I don't know what the hell it means. I really don't know what it means."

So I wrote a theme that facilitated the word. And Don then wrote the lyric. He then called Tom Jones. And now the whole Bond thing was being a big success. You know, you could have called anybody, you know. Everybody now wanted to do Bond songs because it was the success that Shirley had had and the whole aura that was hanging around the movies.

So Tom came in and then he said -- the first thing when he heard it, he said, "what the hell is this about?" I said, "Tom, don't ask. Just take a leaf out of Shirley's book. Get in the studio. Sing the hell out of it and leave. Please, don't get into it. Just do that."

And he said, " oh, all right. OK. I'll do it." And it was the same mood. Just convince everybody. And so he was just so convincing. I don't think anybody really analyzed what the hell he was singing about. And I still don't know what the song is about to this day. But we were given that problem and we had to live with it.

GROSS: Well, the lyricist came up with good ideas for "Thunderball." "They call him the winner who takes all and he strikes like thunderball."

BARRY: Yes, Don did. Absolutely.

GROSS: These are solutions to the problem.

BARRY: Yeah, he did actually, in the nick of time, come out with that line which made it slightly credible, you know.

GROSS: I love these lyrics. They're so funny. "His days of asking are all gone. His fight goes on and on and on."

BARRY: Right. Right. Right.

GROSS: So you must have had fun doing this. I mean, it's very silly and very fun.

BARRY: Yeah, talk about a license to kill. It's a license to write silly and just have great fun. That was the whole joy of these movies. This was not "Citizen Kane." It was just this fun comic strip. So you could get away with murder. If this had been a one off -- some guy made a movie called "Thunderball" and it hadn't the cachet that was growing up around the whole thing, we would have been thrown out of the studio.

It was the whole -- the whole thing just -- we were launched. And we could do anything really silly. That was the freedom of it. And why I left ultimately was because it stopped being wonderful and silly. It started to be formula. And that's when the fun went out of it. And once the fun goes out of it, well there's really no point.

GROSS: It's time to hear "Thunderball." Sung by Tom Jones. Music by my guest John Barry.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- TITLE SONG FROM THE JAMES BOND FILM "THUNDERBALL" SUNG BY TOM JONES AND COMPOSED BY JOHN BARRY)

She always runs
While others walk
He acts
While other men just talk

He looks at this world and wants it all
So he strikes like thunderball
He knows the meaning of success
His needs are more

So he gives less
They call him the winner who takes all
And he strikes like thunderball

GROSS: Talk about big arrangements, that is really great. I like the way you manage to work in the "James Bond Theme." That was very nice.

BARRY: Every trick in the book we used. Believe me.

LAUGHTER

We didn't leave anything out. Actually, you didn't play the best part of the song. The bridge, "da da de da de da da dum da da de dum." The bridge actually makes that song work.

GROSS: OK, cue it up to the bridge. Bob Purdock (ph), our engineer, please cue it up to the bridge.

BARRY: Bridges -- the most important part of any song, Gershwin said, is the bridge. It's the release. It's how you get from -- it's the old 1930s pattern of 32 bar songs -- eight bars, eight bars, bridge and end. And it's so important how you get that release.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- TITLE SONG FROM THE JAMES BOND FILM "THUNDERBALL" SUNG BY TOM JONES AND COMPOSED BY JOHN BARRY)

Any woman he wants he'll get
He will break any heart without regret
His days of asking are all gone

GROSS: I interrupted your thought about the bridge.

BARRY: You know, it sets up getting back -- it goes into another area but it also sets up getting back into the main theme. It's not as simple as it sounds.

GROSS: Now why are minor keys so essential in these Bond themes?

BARRY: I guess minor keys are essential in my life. I love writing in minor keys. I adore them. They are just emotionally more fruitful. There's a certain -- I don't know -- there's a certain sense of tragedy. Although you're plane hokey, if you had to do James Bond in major keys it would sound like Mickey Mouse cartoon music. It really would.

It's because you play it in the minor key that it gives it a weight and a power, you know, you listen to Shostakovich you listen to Prokofiev. I mean, it's all this minor -- I'm very very influenced -- I mean, my greatest loves are the Russians composer's: Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Stravinsky.

The Russians have a way with the minor key that no other people have. And I -- if anybody says what's the biggest influence in your life, as much as I love Beethoven and a million other things, it's that Russian attitude to be able to deal with a minor key.

GROSS: This is good because Bond was always fighting the Russians.

BARRY: Yeah, that wasn't a part of the thing. It just happened to work out well in that.

GROSS: Right. Right.

BARRY: But it gives it size. It gives it more sense of drama. If you had tried to score Bond movies in major keys, when you think about it, it would have been absolutely disastrous.

GROSS: You started your music career at a time when rock music was definitely displacing earlier pop music on the record charts. But your background was more, I think, in jazz and maybe symphonic music. You mentioned you studied with Bill Russo. Were you expecting a big band career?

BARRY: I went in the Army for three years. I served in Egypt for a year and then I served in Cyprus for 16 months. And when I came out -- when I went into the Army the big bands were the big bands and that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to write big band stuff. I wanted to write big band jazz stuff.

And when I came out the big band business was dead. There were these -- Jack Parnell, Ted Heath, Johnny Dank (ph) -- and I arranged for all these people. But the business was dead. And it was "Rock Around the Clock," it was Freddy Bell and the Bell Boys, Elvis Presley was getting his blue suede shoes ready, you know.

And Jack Parnell said to me, "John, I know you never want to work for anybody else so why don't you just form a small group as economically viable and play the market and find your way in that way." It was the best piece of advice I ever had in my life and that's exactly what I did.

I took three musicians that I'd been in the Army with -- three local musicians from York and we formed a group called the John Barry Seven. And we were instantly successful. And we literally copied everything that was being done in America. We had no idea of what it was about, we just copied Bill Haley. We copied Freddy Bell and the Bell Boys. And Little Richard.

All these were the early guys. And then after we'd done that for about six months then I started to get -- to comprehend the genre. Because I was jazz and classically oriented. And you might say, well, you sound like a real hooker there. And I was. I was a musical hooker, because I wanted so much to get into the business, you know.

But it soon leveled out. It soon found its market and it was a way of doing it. If I hadn't had done that -- that was the way I chose to do it. And it was very expeditious, looking back.

GROSS: My guest is John Barry. He wrote the scores for 11 James Bond films and about 90 other movies, including "Midnight Cowboy," "Dances with Wolves" and "Out Of Africa." His new CD is called "The Beyondness of Things." We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

BREAK

GROSS: My guest is composer John Barry. He wrote the scores for about a hundred films, including 11 James Bond movies.

We've been focusing on the theme songs, but of course you did the scores for the whole movie and underscoring for action scenes. And scenes were Bond is being tied up or about to be lasered to death.

BARRY: Right.

GROSS: There's a snake or a poisonous spider in his bed or he's about to be executed. Whatever. So do you have a favorite scene and how it works with the music that you did for that were something terrible was about to happen to James Bond?

BARRY: Oh God, there are so many. I used to put myself -- like when I used to go to my father's cinema and sit in the front row on Saturday afternoon, and get absolutely thrilled by what was going up there. I tried to put myself into that area. And I guess the -- in "Goldfinger" where he's laid down on the laser thing and the laser is going up between his legs. That's kind of a worrying thought.

LAUGHTER

I guess that was like the epitome of, oh my God, you know, that was pretty special stuff.

GROSS: Let's hear the actual scene from the movie.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP -- SCENE FROM THE FILM "GOLDFINGER")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: This is gold Mr. Bond. All my life I've been in love with its color. Its brilliance. Its divineness. I welcome any enterprise that will increase my stock.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Which is considerable.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I think you've made your point, Goldfinger, thank you for the demonstration.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Choose your next witticism carefully, Mr. Bond, it may be your last. The purpose of our two previous encounters is now very clear to me. I do not intend to be distracted by another. Good night, Mr. Bond.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Do you expect me to talk?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die. There is nothing you can talk to me about that I don't already know.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Are you forgetting one thing? If I fill out the report 008 replaces me.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I trust he will be more successful.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: But he knows what I know.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You know nothing, Mr. Bond.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Operation Grand Slam for instance.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Two words you may have overheard which cannot possibly have any significance to you or anyone in your organization.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Can you afford to take that chance?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You are quite right, Mr. Bond. You are worth more to me alive.

GROSS: That's music composed by my guest John Barry for the film "Goldfinger." When Sean Connery left the James Bond movies and you stayed on and continued writing a while longer, did you feel like any -- like the music had to change at all because the character portraying Bond was changing?

BARRY: Yes. Sean -- and when you look at the old -- when I see the old footage of the Sean movies I just go, oh my God. God, was it there. Was it so blatantly there. There was no question. And then we did "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" with Lazenby, and I overwrote. A lot of people think that's the best Bond score that ever was.

Believe me, a lot of Bond fans think that that was the best score. And I was trying to make up for the fact that Sean wasn't there, musically. Really. No, that was the trip I took. Because I -- and Sean was the ultimate, and with no disrespect to -- well, I can have disrespect to Lazenby because he couldn't act his self out of a paper bag.

Roger did another slant on it. And then Timothy came in, and I did Timothy's first movie -- "Lion in Winter" was the first movie Timothy had done. And then -- but I think Pierce actually is the closest in terms of attitude to what Sean was. He is the nearest thing.

The golden days with Sean, you can never never never get away from that. And when you look at it -- because you get away from these things for so long, but when they finally flash up on the screen and you just see Sean just walking across a room, just the way -- his attitude towards the women, towards the guns, towards the killing.

And those terrible lines he had to say. I mean, he had to say some the worst lines ever written. And he brought them off. He brought off these -- well, I guess he got the point, you know, when he shot that spear into the guy. I mean, they were terrible lines.

And it's really extraordinarily for an actor to bring off a line that corny and make the audience go with it. And Sean was -- Sean was very underestimated as an actor because everybody said oh, he's just Bond and what happens. And then he made a few kind of rather dull movies immediately after that.

But I think Sean has proven himself to be a giant movie star period. That's what movie stars are about.

GROSS: Well John Barry, I want to thank you so much for talking with us. I've really enjoyed it. Thank you.

BARRY: Well I thank you, Terry. And I thank you for your knowledge and your love of the things I've done, and I hope it's been an entertaining program.

GROSS: Composer John Barry has a new CD called "The Beyondness of Things."

This is FRESH AIR.

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Dateline: Terry Gross, Washington, DC
Guest: John Barry
High: Composer John Barry. He's best known for his 11 James Bond scores, including "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball." Barry has won five Oscars: for the song and score of "Born Free," and for scores for "Lion in Winter," "Out of Africa," and "Dances with Wolves." He has a new CD compilation of his work, "John Barry: The Hits & The Misses."
Spec: Entertainment; Movie Industry; Music Industry; Lifestyle; Culture; John Barry

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1999 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1999 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: John Barry
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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