If you are blessed with the ability to write music, you can turn your hand to various forms. I’ve always admired people for whom it’s a craft – the great songwriting partners of the past, such as Rodgers and Hammerstein, or Cole Porter. I’ve admired the fact that they can write a musical and they can do a film score.
So film scores were an interesting diversion for me, and with George Martin being able to write and orchestrate – and being pretty good at it – I got an offer through the Boulting Brothers for him and me to do some film music for The Family Way.
I had a look at the film and though it was great. I still do. It’s very powerful and emotional – soppy, but good for its time. I wanted brass-band music; because with The Beatles we got into a lot of different kinds of music, but maybe brass band was a little too Northern and ‘Hovis’. I still loved it. My dad had played trumpet and his dad had been in a brass band, so I had those leanings. For the film I got something together that was sort of ‘brassy bandy’, to echo the Northernness of the story, and I had a great time.
We got an Ivor Novello Award for the score – for the best film song that year, a piece called ‘Love In The Open Air’, which Johnny Mercer was nearly going to put lyrics to, but I didn’t know who he was. Later I realised, ‘Oh, that Johnny Mercer! You mean the greatest lyricist on the planet!’ I should have done that. Never mind – it fell through – but it was good fun doing the music.
The soundtrack album was issued on 6 January 1967, and was reissued in 2011.