When I was living at MoMA
during their recent JAMES BOND
retrospective, I passed the kiosk selling James Bond paraphernalia ev’ry visit. I resisted for the two weeks I spent going to the museum. Oh, trust me...I stood in front of the kiosk looking at the items, ( t-shirts, toy Aston Martins, hats, cups, deck o’ cards et al ) each time I went...trying to justify justify justify. I held out. I was a good consumer. I resisted. Yeah. Uhmmmm...resistance is futile.
I bought the book on Bond's history AND the cd "BEST OF BOND...JAMES BOND: 50 YEARS - 50 TRACKS."
I uploaded my iPOD with the first half of the tracks that contained the theme songs. ( 23 of them - "SKYFALL" is not included. ) I've been listening to these songs for fifty years; all of which I know by heart. Well...I can hum them by heart. You know, it's interesting just listening to them as music...just music. Here's the data I've culled from this. You can quibble about the groupings, but this is what I get:Two films with orchestral themes :*
"0n Her Majesty's Secret Service"Four male sung theme songs :*
Matt Munro - "From Russia With Love"*
Tom Jones - "Thunderball"*
Louis Armstrong - "0n Her Majesty's Secret Service ( "We Have All the Time in the World"
Chris Connell - "Casino Royale" ( "You Know My Name"
)Twelve female sung theme songs :* Shirley Bassey
Nancy Sinatra - "You 0nly Live Twice"*
Lulu - "The Man With the Golden Gun"* Shirley Bassey
- "Diamonds Are Forever"*
Carly Simon - "The Spy Who Loved Me"* Shirley Bassey
Sheena Easton - "For Your Eyes Only"*
Rita Coolidge - "Octopussy" ( "All Time High"
Gladys Knight - "Licence to Kill"*
Tina Turner - "Goldeneye"*
Sheryl Crow - "Tomorrow Never Dies"*
Madonna - "Die Another Day"*
Adele - "Skyfall"
( I am absolutely lovin'
that Shirley has the hat trick of Bond singers. Wish they'd ask her to do one more...please. )Five songs sung by groups / duo :*
Paul McCartney & Wings - "Live and Let Die"*
Duran Duran - "A View to a Kill"*
A-ha - "The Living Daylights"*
Garbage - "The World Is Not Enough"*
Jack White & Alicia Keys - "Quantum of Solace" ( "Another Way to Die"
Here are some recent appearances of the iconic Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones singing their hit Bond theme songs:
No, their voices may not quite be their voices of olde. But they are
iconic figures in the Bond musical mythology. You can’t take that away from them.
As I've been listening to the music, I do have pictures of Bond running through my head. Some of the songs I still like, some I don't care for anymore. And then again songs that I hated when I sat in the theatre so many years ago...I now really like. Go figure. Hollywood's picking singers based on box office and Billboard and what will sell. ( Yeah, they probably always did. ) But there were some pretty good voices that have been honored to sing the theme song for a James Bond film. You can click on the singer’s photo if you need a reminder of the Bond theme song. Everybody has their own favorites. Here's what I think of all the Bond theme songs. I'll start off with these five:“FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE” ( 1962 ) “Still my tongue-tied
would not let
my love for
In case you said ‘no’...”
Matt Munro has the smoky easy romantic sound of a Sinatra or Andy Williams or Mel "The Velvet Fog" Torme. ( He holds his final note for an amazing twelve-seconds. ) Aahhh...I hear the strains of Mother Russia in the song's melody. I see a candlelit dinner. I see skyscrapers dotted with boxes of light through a dim restaurant's window. I like the song better now than then.* * * * * * * * *“GOLDFINGER” ( 1963 ) “But his lies
what you fear...”
WHO can name that song in two notes???
most recognizable song in all the James Bond canon. Here we have the first ( of three ) time the great Shirley Bassey sings that song. She’s my girl for all time. She has a big soaring voice. She and the song are bombastic and blaring. This is an announcement...a pronouncement. Hear those trumpets herald the Villain? Now that it has your attention, it quiets slightly. She has something important to say: GOLDFINGER!!!!!
And here are the admonitions: “a spider’s touch” “enter his web of sin” “this heart is cold” “the kiss of death.”
What more do you need? I love its descriptiveness. And it weaves a little of the James Bond theme in the melody. At the end Bassey sings six times: “he loves only gold”"only gold" "HE...LOVES...GOLD!" Can you get any clearer than that? Pretty girl, you have been warned.
But when do women ever
listen?* * * * * * * * *“THUNDERBALL” ( 1965 ) “Any woman he wants
He will break
That could go for Tom Jones too, but let me stay on task.. A-hem! Another blaring announcement, ever so slightly muted. Tom Jones is the definitive masculine voice
of James Bond. Rich & open, bass and powerful. I hear those drums again...and the blaring trumpets. Jones is the exact flip side to Shirley Bassey, ( they both are Welsh ) and his voice goes right to the marrow holding that last note a good strong solid twelve seconds. I love John Barry’s orchestration. In this song, Bond’s traits are described: “his needs are more so he gives less” “the winner who takes all” the lyrics illustrates a man of action. He takes what he wants. I like the halting way the music goes after the lyrics “so he strikes....” wait for it “like Thunder - Ballllllll.” I wish I had more command of the language of music. But you know what I mean. You know
what I mean.
I was a junior in high school when Tom Jones had his variety show. Me and my girlfriends used to just talk him up the next day in school. I guess Gino Vanelli had more pouffy hair than Tom...and he had a pretty decent voice too...but there's only one Tom Jones, and no
male voice matches his, singing a Bond song. John Barry...you were blessed. And this is my favorite film, and song.* * * * * * * * *“YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE” ( 1967 ) “And love is a stranger
beckon you on.
Don’t think of the danger
pr the stranger
Nancy has a weak voice.
But her voice is literally PERFECT
for this song. She doesn't stray far up the scale. She's in the middle, the lovely middle notes. I love
her plaintive sound. I love the romantic melancholic melody this song has. Shirley Bassey is my girl. But I’m not sure even she
could pull off Nancy’s haunting sound. The song is so delicate. A lot of lush strings and the hint of the Orient in his music. Maurice Binder’s title credits are nice, giving a hint of the Asian beauties darkly silhouetted against the raging volcano. This is really the prettiest of all the Bond songs. John Barry evokes different emotions with all his songs. This song, the violins...the strings at the end, the way he holds them...break my heart. What a pretty song.* * * * * * * * *“ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE” ( 1969 )
If you wish, you can listen to the Barry orchestra perform "We Have All the Time in the World."
A beautiful song:
IS IT ME? Could Diana Rigg have been the successor to Vivien Leigh? Oh I admit her eyes don’t dance and sparkle like Vivling's, but Rigg has got something...something
that came to mind in this small clip from the movie. You can click on both pictures above to see a clip. I've had a difficult time with this movie AND this song. Sorry, Louis. His trumpet playing is incomparable. But his voice seemed wrong for this love song; like sandpaper. Then of course some miraculous change came over the song after all these years.
Awwwright, okay...I guess in me. I now like the juxtaposition of Louis' raspy voice, with the sweet sadness of this song. I still have to work on the movie. The last time I saw it, I just pretended that I wasn't even looking at a Bond movie. Somehow that worked.