More information on James Bond Music

Bassey gave an equally preposterous encore with the gorgeously camp Diamonds Are Forever (“Unlike men, diamonds linger”), a surprisingly haunting number aptly described by Simon Winder as a “sweat and polyester soundtrack”. But neither she nor Barry could liven up the hopelessly pedestrian Moonraker, that barrel-scraper in so many departments—despite an over-ambitious triangle player’s Herculean efforts to add energy.

The Goldfinger pattern has led to some memorably meaningless lyrics. Given the Bond series’ nominal concern with 007’s licence to kill, it’s no surprise that a great many of these fortune cookie maxims related to death.
The Goldfinger pattern has led to some memorably meaningless lyrics. Given the Bond series’ nominal concern with 007’s licence to kill, it’s no surprise that a great many of these fortune cookie maxims related to death.

“You only live twice, or so it seems/ One life for yourself, and one for your dreams”, “Living’s in the way we die”, “There’s no point in living if you can’t feel alive”, “If you take a life, do you know what you give?” … don’t put any of these on birthday cards. It makes it all the stranger, then, that the theoretical slam-dunk song title—Gladys Knight’s 1989 “Licence to Kill”—is just standard ‘80s love-mush (“You know I’m goin’ straight for your heart”) and owing to a misplaced backing vocal from Ms Knight’s Pips, it actually sounds like she’s singing about a “licence to kill”, whatever that is (do I need one for the annual Crawford caber toss?).

Aside from Goldfinger, the three Bond songs that have justly endured the decades are interesting exceptions to the norm. “The Look of Love” is characteristically sweet and swinging Burt Bacharach-Hal David (and sung by Dusty Springfield) that has become a summer of love standard—but it was written, of course, for 1967’s unofficial Casino Royale (the subject of my rose-tinted reminiscences elsewhere).

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