Monday’s Music Moves Me: 007 Themes

By now, everyone’s heard that Sean Connery, portrayer of James Bond in six of the first seven "James Bond" movies, passed away recently at the age of 90. Birgit suggested that I do a playlist dedicated to the Bond movies that Connery was in. Unfortunately, there were only six, but one of the movies originally had a different theme than the one that was ultimately used. That brought me up to seven, so I included three themes from the Roger Moore years that became Top 40 hits.

  1. Monty Norman, "James Bond Theme": This was used first in the movie Dr. No (1962). Surf music was popular around this time, so Monty Norman included some surf guitar in this theme. John Barry, who wrote the music for most of the Bond movies, arranged the song for Norman, but didn’t receive credit. It is often rumored that Barry had written the song, and there have been a couple of court cases to that effect.
  2. Matt Monro, "From Russia With Love": This was the first Bond movie with John Barry as the primary composer. The title track was written by Lionel Bart of Oliver! fame and sung by Matt Monro, though the theme that was played over the opening credits was a combination of the "James Bond Theme" and an instrumental version of the song.
  3. Shirley Bassey, "Goldfinger": This was the first Bond film for which the title song was sung by a popular recording artist over the opening credits. The music was written by John Barry, the lyrics by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, and Dame Shirley provided the vocal.
  4. Tom Jones, "Thunderball": The original theme song was "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," which is what an Italian journalist called 007 in a 1962 article. Barry and Bricusse wrote the original theme, which was sung by Dame Shirley and which they discovered was too short for the title sequence. A second version, with a longer instrumental opening and sung by Dionne Warwick, fit the sequence, but producers Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were concerned that the title song didn’t mention the name of the movie. Barry and lyricist Don Black composed the theme that was used. The story goes that Tom Jones held the last note so long that he passed out.
  5. Nancy Sinatra, "You Only Live Twice": Barry and Bricusse teamed up to write this theme, and Nancy Sinatra agreed to sing it after her father passed on it. I think she was the perfect choice.
  6. Shirley Bassey, "Diamonds Are Forever": Barry, who composed all the music for the film, teamed up with lyricist Don Black and wrote the theme song for Dame Shirley. Barry later said that he told her to imagine that she was singing about a penis…
  7. Dionne Warwick, "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang": This was the rejected theme song for Thunderball, as mentioned above.
  8. Paul McCartney, "Live and Let Die": This was the first movie to feature Roger Moore as 007. John Barry was unavailable to write the music for the movie, so they asked Sir Paul to write the theme song. The rest of the music was composed by "The Fifth Beatle," Sir George Martin.
  9. Carly Simon, "Nobody Does It Better": For the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me, Barry was once again unavailable to write the score due to tax issues, so they turned to Marvin Hamlisch. Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager wrote the theme song, which became the first theme song not to be named after the film; I guess they relented because the name of the movie is sung in several places in the theme. That, plus they got Carly Simon to sing the theme.
  10. Duran Duran, "A View To A Kill": John Barry returned for this last Bond film to feature Roger Moore as Bond. Reportedly, Duran Duran got the job of doing the theme when John Taylor, bassist and a longtime James Bond fan, stumbled up to Albert Broccoli at a party and slurred out, "When are you going to get someone decent to do one of your theme songs?" They are credited with the lyrics to the song.

And that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for November 2, 2020.

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Cathy, Alana, and Stacy, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.

31 thoughts on “Monday’s Music Moves Me: 007 Themes

  1. John,

    We’re huge James Bond fans of the older movies. We don’t care too much for Daniel Craig. He’s a good actor but he isn’t James Bond and the writers stink with their political correctness which makes me sick. GAG! I did my 4M & BoTB post many weeks ago. I hated reading of Sean Connery’s passing. While on staycation we watched The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with Connery. It was a fun film. He’s the best 007 ever!

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    1. The novels themselves were a product of their time (late ’40’s, early ’50’s). Fleming died in the early ’60’s. I hope the powers that be leave them as they are.

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  2. Well, I didn’t recognize the first two, but after that I remember them all! I just saw this woman perform this song on you tube. Wow, she really puts her all into it for sure! Thanks for sharing all the tunes for Mr. OO7 himself. Have a great day my friend… very clever!

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  3. So, so enjoyable. My husband (who normally ignores my blogging) came over and listened to. I had forgotten Shirley Bassey sung Diamonds are forever. In fact, I forgot so many of these. And, after watching the video for A View to a Kill, I want to watch the movie again! But yes, Goldfinger’s theme is still the best, and even Rolling Stone Magazine agrees with me. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/james-bond-movie-theme-songs-ranked-worst-to-best-154927/

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    1. “Goldfinger” was a real classic. “Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!” That and the Daniel Craig “Casino Royale” are my two favorites. And the theme song had the best of everything: music by John Barry, lyrics by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, and a tremendous vocal performance by Dame Shirley Bassey.

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  4. Thank you so much for taking on my suggestion…I loved every moment of it. Sean Connery, to me, is the best James Bond because he holds all the personalities of the others into one…he can be carefree like Roger Moore’s Bond, angry like Daniel Craig’s. He can be handsome and strong like Pierce Brosnan but deeply soulful like Timothy Dalton. Too bad he was having issues with Playing the character when they filmed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service because I wonder what he could have done with that role. There are so many great songs and musical pieces from each one. I love the Three Blind Mice one in Dr. No and who can forget the bikini worn by Ursula Undress(hahahaa..couldn’t help myself). I love the theme of From Russia With Love, going throughout the film plus who can forget Robert Shaw and that nasty shoe with the poison tip. Gold Finger had the gold painted gal plus, well, Pussy Galore( I must be dreaming). This was the start of so many great female names like Holly Goodnight to Plenty O’Toole played by Natalie Wood’s sister. Kiss, kiss Bang Bang…was that in The Man with The Golden Gun later? I know not the title song but I wonder if it was played in another Bond film somewhere. Duran Duran were so big in the 80s with their tongue in cheek videos and their hair and coats that just reek 80s. I loved Live and Let Die which was so explosive because it was the first rock song done for Bond plus who can forget the skull in flames when the song starts with that”bang”. Carly Simon sounds excellent in that concert just like on the record, I also love For Your Eyes Only. Really, so many were up for Best Oscar.

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    1. I think they used the name Ursula Undress in the MAD parody…

      Interesting that two of the Bond girls, Diana Rigg and Honor Blackman, were both on “The Avengers” with Patrick MacNee.

      Funny, I got the distinct impression that Carly was lip-syncing in that concert footage…

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    1. Thanks! I always enjoyed the novels and short stories. The movies stay pretty close to the books but aren’t exactly like them, which is good, because Fleming had this tendency to spend an entire chapter discussing the flora and fauna of a location or describe in painstaking detail what Bond was having for lunch or how he dressed for an evening out. It made for interesting reading but not necessarily good viewing.

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    1. He was the best of the group. although I’ve seen a couple of the Daniel Craig movies and think he’s also done a fine job. Roger Moore was a bit old for the part (he might have been a better Bond than Connery if he hadn’t been playing Simon Templar when they started casting), I’m not sure Timothy Dalton really enjoyed the part, and a lot of Americans see Pierce Brosnan as a comic actor after “Remington Steele.” George Lazenby might have grown into the part, but they never let him continue….

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      1. He was a great 007. Bond is not my favourite character but they have been a good bunch. I never saw George Lazenby, but I did enjoy all the others to varing degrees. What about David Niven who was James Bond in the original Casino Royale. 💜

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