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Terry Walstrom reflects on The Me I Never Knew

These things are entirely subjective, naturally, but -- I've always had a very special place in my heart for Barry's melody to the Alice's Adventures tune to THE ME I NEVER KNEW in its instrumental form not to mention the Matt Monro vocal.

The construction of the thematic material has some unexpected turns which never fail to elicit a strong response from me. Normally in a song we would have the first line repeated in the second line identically or pivoted up an interval of a fourth. But, Barry -- the second time the phrase "The me I never knew" appears--works a bit of magic and injects a poignant twist to the direction of the theme. It goes up instead of down at an odd interval and--as if that were not enough--elevates the entire mood in a transcendent manner when the phrase "without a word of warning" occurs.

Now -- I'd like to call your attention to what is NORMAL in a song. You introduce a theme or melody line and repeat it. Then you bridge in something of contrast in the middle eight bars. Back to the same original theme with a change in it to top off the feeling of completeness. But -- in THE ME I NEVER KNEW there is no resting place and return until the ENTIRE first and second lines/bridge phrase have spun through to completion. Rather, a transformation process is applied throughout. The emotional core transmutes mood after mood climbing in intensity reframing the "feeling" in greater and greater tensions which cry out for some sort of release. "You smiled and I discovered..." on the word "discovered" a remarkable feeling of interior transformation rushes forward. The discovery is imbedded inside the melody itself. And a wonderful one it is too!

The orchestral version of this song is just a joy. The tension and release is masterful. The conflict is never overpowered by the instrumentation. It is kept personal yet significant. A grandness and nobility is present when the horns and the strings sing full out.

I simply wish there had been an alternate lyric written for this melody which would be more universal; allowing singers an avenue of expression less reflective and more declarative. Nobody sings about interior transformation it seems--unless they are holding a guitar!

The long and the short of it---this may be my favorite Barry melody. Dunno, there are so damned many!!

 

Terry Walstrom.

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Specialising in book publications and CD releases about John Barry and our book "Hit ans Miss: The Story of The John Barry Seven.

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Have a look at our old "Play It Again" label website here.

Play It Again Records CD catalogue offered the discerning listener a wide choice of digitally re-mastered recordings from film and television, and rare collections of work from the likes of Don Black and Ron Grainer.

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John Barry related Events or Concerts


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A lot more James Bond concerts collected on the link below, I have put them all in this news item. So check it out from there!

http://www.moviesinconcert.nl/index.php?page=concertlist


The Bridgewater Hall - Music of John Barry November 2018

The Music of John Barry

Saturday 10 November 7.30pm
The Bridgewater Hall
Lower Mosley Street
Manchester, M2 3WS

Website

Nicholas Dodd conductor
Andrew Collins presenter
Manchester Camerata

John Barry created some of the most memorable and recognisable film scores of the 20th century, such as Midnight Cowboy, Out of Africa, Dances with Wolves, Zulu and of course much of the music from the James Bond series; his versatility and originality were peerless. His death in 2011 deprived cinema of a true musical great. This concert pays tribute to his life and music with a carefully selected programme, conducted by Nicholas Dodd, who collaborated closely with the composer on his later films. Nicholas Dodd is regarded as one of the leading conductors and orchestrators of Hollywood film music and is a noted expert on, and performer of John Barry’s music. In fact, every James Bond movie from the last 10 years bears his signature.