About 15 years ago, I was somebody’s plus-one on an industry pass to go to a preview of the showbiz biopic Beyond the Sea, which was being shown in a really good theater with an above-average sound system. I wasn’t a particular fan of Bobby Darin or even of Kevin Spacey (for all that he is the definitive Jamie Tyrone of our generation and frankly I don’t care about anything else); actually I just wanted to find out how cheesy the production could get. Well honestly, it did start off pretty cheesily, every element that should’ve contributed some genuine worth—like, you know, the lead acting, the directing, design, (makeup! prosthesis!) etc—was utter bad-phony, not good-phony, bullcrap…and then they struck up the soundtrack orchestra…
Above Spacey: “Beyond the Sea” as only my beloved John could do it.
If I could’ve exclaimed “Holy mackerel!” out loud the moment that gorgeous snap hit my ears I would’ve exclaimed it out loud, but you don’t do that at an industry screening, so I exclaimed it in my mind. I hadn’t heard a commitment like that coming from a track orchestra in a very long time. This was no pick-up crew, this was one tight unit, and they were hitting the musical values like nobody’s business. I vowed to remember the name of this bright new conductor-arranger—which of course I promptly forgot (There are a lot of John Wilsons in the world, as Anthony Burgess would be the first to tell you) and didn’t remember again until last May. Recorded by my darling and his O for the Warner Bros film at Pinewood Studios, 2003. A 2006 Grammy nominee in the Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media category (composers Charles Trenet-Jack Lawrence, arranger Dick Behrke, producer Phil Ramone). Available on Rhino Records, that notorious niche label, and I really must find out who at Warners moved it to that catalog.
- “The Story So Far, with Conductor John Wilson”
- “The Story So Far; Or, Conductor John Wilson—His Limits”
- Kindle ebook of my Hollywood comedy-mystery COLD OPEN here.
- Free pdf of my book JOHN WILSON: AN ENGLISH CONDUCTOR here.
- Free pdf of my memoir re the Gyllenhaals A POET FROM HOLLYWOOD here.