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John Barry - five farewell filmscore tracks

The death of John Barry is a great loss. His themes and arrangements could make just ten seconds of a score tell you all you needed to know about the movie.

They added excitement, atmosphere, mystery and interest to every film he wrote for.

Such was his ability to create aural moods and sound pictures that at times listening was more enjoyable than watching.

Commenting on his death, British film composer David Arnold said that James Bond wouldn’t have been half as cool without John Barry holding his hand, as good an epitaph as you can get.

Here are five pieces of film music a movie buff might want to be remembered by.


The movie that helped define the swinging 60s. The title music was so exciting and evocative of things naughty, dangerous and entertaining. A good way to be remembered, especially if your life was financially and, er, romantically successful. ‘The man with the Midas touch…A golden girl knows that when he’s kissed her, it’s the kiss of death from Mr Goldfinger’.

Born Free

Brilliant not just for the once heard never forgotten theme but the whole score. Beautiful melodies, lush arrangements and the use of silence make this soundtrack one of the outstanding pieces of British music of the 20th century.

Choose the title track, nicely sung by Matt Monro.

Dances With Wolves – The John Dunbar Theme

Beautiful melody, a haunting arrangement that veers between the romantic and threatening. Strings, harmonica, tumbling brass and electro beats. Contemporary classical music to be sent off by.

The Dove – Sail The Summer Winds

An underrated score which included this rather sentimental song, but read the lyrics and see why it is such a brilliant farewell choice. As you would expect, a lovely melody which is emphasised by the string section playing out the track.
‘Sail the summer winds/from dream to dream and shore to shore/Go and get to know if there's a place that offers more….Sail the summer winds and when you've sailed on every sea/Sail the summer winds back home to me.’

Mary Queen of Scots – Mary’s Theme

Gorgeous, with soaring strings, a harp plucking out sparse notes, with a lovely violin passage that creates a foreboding tension which remains as the ensemble ends the piece. This is a wonderful track to be remembered by. Everyone listening will understand its emotional appeal.

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