Monday, May 25, 2015

Music to My Ears: Hal David and John Leach….Day 145 of Bond 365

Hal David
Born this day in 1921
Lyricist for Casino Royale (1967), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Moonraker

American lyricist Hal David is best known for his collaboration with Burt Bacharach. As a lyricist, David’s lyrics are immediately recognizable even though his name is not.

During the 1970s, Bacharach and David worked with The Carpenters, Dusty Springfield, B.J. Thomas, Tom Jones, and Dionne Warwick resulting in such hits as “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose”, “Walk On By”, and “What the World Needs Now Is Love”.

David’s lyrics accompanied three James Bond films: with Bacharach, “The Look of Love” from the 1967 film Casino Royale; with John Barry, “Moonraker” sung by Shirley Bassey; and my personal favorite, “We Have All the Time in the World” with Barry again and sung by amazing Louis Armstrong for the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. 

Another song that I have always enjoyed was from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, sung by B.J. Thomas:

Leach playing the cimbalom
John Leach
Passed away this day in 2014
Musician: Koto for You Only Live Twice

Composer and musician John Leach passed away one year ago today. He composed for film and television – sometimes the most unexpected shows. He was probably known for his expertise on the cimbalom, an instrument rarely used in classical music, yet seemed right a home in the spy films of the 1960s. Its sound resonated the Cold War – haunting, lonely and cold.

In a Telegraph obituary, composer John Barry described Leach’s passion for collecting musical instruments from around the world that he would learn to play. “…he played this big cimbalom and I knew it was right for what I needed…After I’d written the theme I went back to John Leach and he played it, letting all the tones ring out…so it got that very distinctive sound which I wanted for the movie.” The movie Barry was referring to was The Ipcress File (1965) starring Michael Caine. Then, Barry and Leach collaborated again in You Only Live Twice (1967). To accompany Bond’s adventure in Japan, Leach played on the koto, a 13-stringed instrument.

Let’s have a listen to Leach playing the cimbalom for The Ipcress File:

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