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19th December 2013

The theme to Bond's 11th screen outing ranked at 17th place in the MI6 survey of 007 title songs

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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Shirley Bassey - Moonraker

MI6 readers voted in their thousands during 2012 to rank all the James Bond title theme songs. Join us as we count down the results...

After a James Bond outing with musical accompaniment that appealed to the mood of the times - complete with funky chords and disco beats - Cubby Broccoli and John Barry joined forces again for "Moonraker". Whilst it stands as one of Barry's most haunting scores, the title song has always failed to capture imagination.

Part of the challenge has always been to imagine how "Moonraker" could ever be a fit subject for a song. The fact that even Fleming scholars are in doubt about the precise origins of the 1955 novel's title made it difficult for Hal David to put together comprehensible lyrics to the song.

"The Spy Who Loved Me" composer Marvin Hamlisch and lyricist Carole Bayer Sager had already taken the first liberty by naming the theme song for the 10th 007 adventure "Nobody Does It Better", rather than after "The Spy Who Loved Me". Determined not to follow suit, Barry and David constructed the wistful "Moonraker," with its haunting lyrics and melody, but without much substance.

The other challenge lyricist David faced was a mere weekend with composer Barry to purpose the song for the powerful and familiar tones of Shirley Bassey. Bassey recalled that she joined the production of "Moonraker" at the 11th hour as a favour to composer John Barry, one of her oldest friends. Up until that fateful weekend it had been assumed that easy-listening and jazz artist Johnny Mathis would be singing the theme. In fact, Bassey maintained long after the track was recorded that the song was actually written for Mathis. Why exactly the Texan singer departed the production remains uncertain, but it did give the Welsh songstress the opportunity to contribute her final of three themes to the Bond sound.

Given how un-in-keeping with the hits of the day the theme proved to be, Barry reluctantly moved to play an alternate version of the theme over the end credits, one complete with a disco beat. Whilst the classic title theme remains a well-respected, if not particularly popular offering in the Bond cannon, the disco variation is unquestionably dated.

Where are you? Why do you hide?
Where is that moonlight trail that leads to your side?
Just like the moonraker goes in search of his dream of gold
I search for love, for someone to have and hold

I've seen your smile in a thousand dreams
Felt your touch and it always seems
You love me, you love me

Where are you? When will we meet?
Take my unfinished life and make it complete
Just like the moonraker knows
His dream will come true someday
I know that you are only a kiss away

I've seen your smile in a thousand dreams
Felt your touch and it always seems
You love me, you love me

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