Lara’s Theme (from the film Doctor Zhivago)

James Last (1929-2015) was another fixture in my childhood home.

Last, who led the James Last Band and James Last Orchestra and worked up until the year of his death, was a favourite of my late father.

Dad died in January 2001 and there were many times over the years when wished I could call him up or visit when I was younger, bumbling my way through my own fatherhood. Not that he could have fixed a lot of things that I was going through but he had, particularly in his later years, quite a calm demeanour, and I like to think this would have made for a comforting place to just talk with him, father to father.

I would love for him to see what our kids have done in their lives and for them to have known him longer; and him, them. I also know he would have been fascinated by some of the jobs I did, and by the advancements in technology that occurred in his lifetime, which totally changed the way people work as compared to 30 or 40 years ago when the only keyboards in offices would have been on typewriters or comptometers.

Dad would have been 101 years old today. Before he died, he looked a lot younger than his age (a trait I inherited as, all through my 20s I was asked to produce identification in bars, which wasn’t as common a practice as it is now). Of all the siblings, I now seem to resemble him the most at the age he retired, which was a little older than I am now.

I chose “Lara’s Theme” for today, not because it was his favourite James Last tune; I honestly don’t remember which one was as I was quite young when he was really into Last. The song comes from the record, Games That Lovers Play (1967), one I remember we had in our living room from the picture of a doting couple on its cover.

The song recalls a mood I felt when hearing my dad’s music. It was written by Maurice Jarre (1924-2009), and was the love theme in the 1965 film, Doctor Zhivago. Jarre fathered Jean-Michel, also a composer, who pioneered in electronic music that was quite popular in the mid-1970s starting with the album, Oxygène… something I was listening to when Dad might have been playing Last.

I was thinking of Dad this morning, imagining the two of us standing together on the bank of the La Salle River in La Barriere Park, south of Winnipeg, Canada; a favourite spot of mine. We weren’t talking; just standing there, taking in the peaceful sight of the little river’s current flowing slowly by.

The La Salle River, La Barriere Park, 2015.
Photo by Steve West

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from James Last’s official Youtube channel:

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