Tour De Bond: The Music of James Bond

Just finished reading The Music of James Bond by Jon Burlingame, which is a film-by-film exploration of the themes and scores of all of the Bond film up until Quantum of Solace. For somebody like me, both a music geek and a Bond obsessive, this is manna from heaven. Burlingame gives an analysis of each film’s score, track by track, but also the behind-the-scenes stories of the music’s creation, including false starts and lost themes along the way.

We hear about the original theme to Moonraker, with lyrics by Paul Williams (The Muppet Movie, etc.), which was going to be sung by Frank Sinatra. The For Your Eyes Only theme sung by Blondie (and eventually included on their 1982 album, The Hunter). The fact that Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were supposed to do a theme for License To Kill, but that during the screening, Lennox was put off by the shark attack scene and backed out.

One of the coolest bits of information, for me, was the fact that there was an entire verse cut out of Diamonds Are Forever during the recording session. Diamonds is my favorite of the Shirley Bassey-sung Bond themes — although the film is, frankly, pretty bad, I love the song even more than Goldfinger:

The book reveals the lyrics to the missing verse:

Diamonds are forever
I can taste the satisfaction
Flawless physical attraction
Bitter cold, icy fresh, till they rest on the flesh they crave for

The book also tells the story that David Arnold was chosen as the composer for the past five films largely due to his album of reworked Bond themes, Shaken and Stirred, which showed the producers that he could mix traditional Barry-style arrangements with more modern electronic techniques.

I love that album — it’s out of print, but if you can find it, grab it. My favorite track, a mash-up of the theme from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the Space Capsule music from You Only Live Twice, done with The Propellerheads:

With Skyfall opening in the US next week, and the 50th anniversary of the films, it’s a great time to be a Bond fan.

One Reply to “Tour De Bond: The Music of James Bond”

  1. Thanks for this great find. I’m a huge Bond and music score fan myself. The very first LP I bought as a kid (I know this dates me) was “From Russia with Love” and I’ve collected all the albums since although I’ve moved on to CD’s since.

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