SOUNDS FAMILIARBaby A. Gil – The Philippine Star

October 26, 2021 | 12:00am

Leslie Bricusse left a rich legacy of beautiful songs for listeners to enjoy

The British composer Leslie Bricusse passed away last Oct. 19 while on vacation in Saint Paul de Vence in France. He was 90 years old and he left behind a rich legacy of some of the most popular and I must say most beautiful songs ever written. This is an instance wherein the term soundtrack of our lives aptly describes the music of Leslie.

Leslie composed some of his songs on his own. Others were done in collaboration with the likes of Anthony Newley, Henry Mancini, John Williams, John Barry and others. But solo or not, I am sure many of you will agree, when the great singers want a showstopper, songs by Leslie are among those they usually turn to.

What Kind of Fool am I, a Grammy Song of the Year winner and Once In a Lifetime from Stop the World I Want to Get Off; Who Can I Turn To and Feeling Good from The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of The Crowd; Pure Imagination and Candyman from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; Talk to the Animals, an Academy Award Best Song winner and When I Look in Your Eyes from Dr. Doolittle; Fill the World with Love and You and I from Goodbye Mr. Chips.

There are also Two for the Road from the movie of the same title; Can You Read My Mind the love theme from Superman; You Only Live Twice from the James Bond film; Goldfinger from another James Bond flick; When You’re Alone from Hook; Somewhere in My Memory from the soundtrack of Home Alone.

It was no surprise that Leslie turned out something as sweet and poignant as Somewhere in my Memory for a Christmas movie like Home Alone. He had done Christmas before and also with excellent results. The first time was for the soundtrack of Scrooge, a musical version of the most Christmasy of tales, A Christmas Carol, which was written by Charles Dickens in 1843.

Aside of course from the story of the Nativity, the world’s favorite Christmas tale is A Christmas Carol. Set in Victorian England, it tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an ill-tempered miser who has not a kind bone in his body. One Christmas Eve, he is visited by three ghosts, Christmas Past, Christmas Present and of Christmas Yet to Come.

Scrooge is shown the wrongs he had done and how he had become unloved and will soon die scorned and unlamented. Thanks to those visitors, Scrooge decides to change his ways. He wakes up that Christmas morning a new man who becomes one of the kindest who ever lived.

A Christmas Carol has been read and reread millions of times these past 150 years or so. It has also been adapted to other media, particularly motion pictures. A lot of these have been produced over the years, several of them enchanting renditions that can be enjoyed again and again.

One of these is the musical Scrooge that starred Albert Finney and which was directed by Ronald Neame. The book, music and lyrics were all written by Leslie. The faithful retelling of the Dickens tale is a delightful masterpiece that garnered several Academy Award nominations including Best Original Song for the closing number Thank You Very Much.

Great song, but the one I like best is A Christmas Carol, which is so uplifting. It makes me feel like heaven is opening up and pouring out blessings for the whole world. Each time, I hear the song, I get the feeling I had become Scrooge, cleansed, renewed, wishing peace and goodwill to the whole world. Heaven knows we can use a lot of good wishes nowadays.

Back to A Christmas Carol and Scrooge and Leslie. The song has become the usual highlight of Christmas concerts. Our very own Jose Mari Chan was so entranced by A Christmas Carol, he made it the opening track of his Christmas album. He also included another song from Scrooge, Christmas Children.

Leslie passed away at the onset of the Christmas Season. We can enjoy Dickens, Scrooge and his music to our heart’s content. Then as time moves on in the coming months, don’t you think Two for the Road or You and I would be just perfect for Valentine’s Day? Leslie did spend his lifetime creating a soundtrack for our lives.

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