Music - Live And Let Die

Music By: George Martin
James Bond Theme: Monty Norman
Song Composed By: Paul and Linda McCartney
Song Performed By: Paul McCartney and Wings)
Album Label: EMI / United Artists (USA), United Artists (UK)
Single Label: Apple (USA, UK)
Highest Chart Position: 9 (UK), 2 (US)

Taking a temporary hiatus from scoring Bond films, John Barry subsequently passed the baton over to George Martin to compose the soundtrack for "Live And Let Die". This was the first James Bond film that Barry was, in at least some aspect, not a part of. Barry was then working on a musical and had had quarrels with producer Harry Saltzman over his title song to Diamonds are Forever (Saltzman thought the lyrics were too crude).


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The score for Live and Let Die was orchestrated and conducted by George Martin, and recorded at the AIR Studios. In his autobiography, Martin said he was approached by Harry Saltzman who was impressed by the orchestral backing of Paul McCartney's demo of the title song and wanted Martin to score the film. Martin agreed but then was surprised when Saltzman asked him who he thought should sing the title song; Martin said that Paul McCartney intended to. Saltzman wanted a black soul singer to match the blaxploitation theme of the film, but a compromise was agreed when B.J. Arnau would sing the title song in a nightclub sequence. The Arnau version of the song appears on the soundtrack album as a component in a medley that also contains two George Martin-composed instrumental pieces, "Fillet of Soul - New Orleans" and "Fillet of Soul - Harlem". Martin related how he worked closely with director Guy Hamilton who practically dictated how one of the tracks "If He Finds It, Kill Him" should sound.

For the theme song, Martin teamed with former-Beatle Paul McCartney, who had previously been considered for Diamonds Are Forever in 1971. This was the first time the pair worked together since Abbey Road in 1969. The theme was written by Paul and his wife Linda McCartney and performed by Paul and his group, Wings.

Wings recorded "Live and Let Die" during the sessions for the Red Rose Speedway album. The single reached #2 in the U.S. and #7 in the U.K. Although McCartney's previous single, "My Love", had been credited to "Paul McCartney & Wings", the label of the "Live and Let Die" single credited the performing artist simply as "Wings." This is because the B-side of the single, "I Lie Around", was not sung by Paul McCartney but instead sung by Wings guitarist Denny Laine. When the song made its first album appearance on the soundtrack album, however, the song was credited to "Paul McCartney & Wings".

Above: Sleeve artwork from the original single release in the US by Apple records.

"Live and Let Die" was the last Paul McCartney single on Apple Records that was credited only to "Wings". Despite its first LP appearance on the 1973 soundtrack album, "Live And Let Die" was not featured on a Paul McCartney album until the Wings Greatest compilation in 1978. "Live and Let Die" was the first James Bond theme song to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song (which gave Paul his second Academy Award nomination and Linda her first), but it lost to the theme song from "The Way We Were".

Above: Artwork for the "Live And Let Die" single releases in Germany (left) and Japan (right).

The single and the soundtrack album also disagree on the composer credit. The single giving sole authorship to Paul McCartney, while the soundtrack album credits Paul & Linda McCartney as the composer. In the 2001 documentary Wingspan, Paul revealed that Linda wrote the bridge section "What Does It Matter To You..."

For many years "Live and Let Die" was a highlight of McCartney's live shows, complete with fireworks and lasers and in 2005, it was performed live during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXIX. The song was first covered by the Stan Kenton big band in 1973, and then in 1991 by the rock band Guns N' Roses. Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, Geri Halliwell and Chrissie Hynde each covered the title tune, the latter for current Bond-composer David Arnold's compilation album, Shaken And Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project.

Soundtrack Listing

Original Release
1. Live and Let Die (Main Title)
2. Just A Closer Walk With Thee/New Second Line
3. Bond Meets Solitaire
4. Whisper Who Dares
5. Snakes Alive
6. Baron Samedi's Dance of Death
7. San Monique
8. Fillet of Soul New Orleans/Live and Let Die
9. Bond Drops In
10. "If He Finds It, Kill Him"
11. Trespassers Will Be Eaten
12. Solitaire Gets Her Cards
13. Sacrifice
14. James Bond Theme

2003 Remastered Release
1. "Live and Let Die (Main Title)" – Paul McCartney & Wings
2. "Just a Closer Walk with Thee/New Second Line" – Harold A. "Duke" Dejan & The Olympia Brass Band
3. "Bond Meets Solitaire"
4. "Whisper Who Dares"
5. "Snakes Alive"
6. "Baron Samedi's Dance of Death"
7. "San Monique"
8. "Fillet of Soul – New Orleans/Live and Let Die/Fillet of Soul – Harlem" – B. J. Arnau
9. "Bond Drops In"
10. "If He Finds It, Kill Him"
11. "Trespassers Will Be Eaten"
12. "Solitaire Gets Her Cards"
13. "Sacrifice"
14. "James Bond Theme"
15. "Gunbarrel/Snakebit"
16. "Bond to New York"
17. "San Monique (Alternate)"
18. "Bond and Rosie"
19. "The Lovers"
20. "New Orleans"
21. "Boat Chase"
22. "Underground Lair"

Total Time (Original Release): 31:34
Total Time (2003 Remastered): 56:23