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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
- Dionne Warwick, "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang": This was the rejected theme song for Thunderball, as mentioned above.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.