Sunday Music – Live And Let Die – The Paul McCartney Series (Part 8)

Posted on Sun 01/30/2011 by


Today’s music video is ‘Live And Let Die’ from Wings.

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This video was posted to You Tube by citycity49

During the sessions for the band’s ‘Red Rose Speedway’ album, Wings recorded this theme for the new James Bond movie, ‘Live And Let Die’. This was the first Bond movie with Roger Moore playing the part of James Bond.

George Martin was asked to score the music for the movie, and being close friends with Paul McCartney from his time with The Beatles, Paul asked Martin if he could write a song for the movie, and this song is the one that Wings came up with.

An interesting fact about the song itself is that the movie’s Producer Harry Saltzman wanted the song to be sung by an African female singer, to line up with some of the themes of the movie itself. When Martin discussed this particular Wings song with Saltzman, Martin said that McCartney would only allow the song to be used if Wings sang the song for the all important opening credits. Saltzman had been bitten once before when he rejected the chance to produce The Beatles movie, the immensely popular ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, and this time he was not going to reject the chance to have a famous musical name associated with one of his movies.

The decision was a good one, because this song became the most popular Bond Theme up to that time, and in fact became a huge hit for the band, which reflected back onto the movie itself.

I had to search long and hard for this particular version of the song, as most versions show the band performing the song, and even though the song is the same, this particular film clip, the original video for the song, does have some interesting history attached to it. The intro is a little cheesy I know but the interesting and little known story concerns what happened at the end of the video.

The story with respect to this video happens right at the end of the clip.

Also popular at the time this song came out was Mad Magazine. One of the popular things from Mad Magazine was the usually short ‘Spy vs Spy’ series of short cartoons. There was never any text to the cartoons, just the back and forth between the supposedly Good Spy (dressed in a white trench coat) and the supposedly Bad Spy, (dressed in a black trench coat) and it was not always the case that the spy in white would win the encounter. The cartoon cashed in on the Cold War situation which was at its height at around this time, and the cartoons were one of the reasons Mad Magazine was so popular, even though the cartoons barely fitted onto one page of this popular magazine.

As part of this film clip of Wings performing the song, there are some scenes from the movie itself, and then, right at the end of the clip, there is a small cameo where this spy thing shows up.

You see an image of a spy dressed in the requisite trench coat skulking about in the upper reaches of the studio where the clip was being performed live by the band with the orchestra. This ‘spy’ approaches a plunger to set off an explosion. The explosion was actually on the set itself where the band was performing the song.

Armorers had wired up a small charge in Paul’s Grand Piano that he was playing for the song. At the end, and timed to coincide with the ‘Spy’ depressing the plunger, Paul would hit a key on the piano that was wired up to detonate the small charge, designed to produce a small flashbang with a lot of smoke and blow off the top and sides of the piano for effect. However, the charge was grossly over calculated and the resultant explosion actually blew Paul right off his seat, and almost blew the piano apart. There is some slow motion footage of the actual explosion, and as harmless as it might actually appear, it was in fact quite a substantial explosion. In fact, Paul had problems for some time after this with his hearing, and it was thought that the damage might be permanent, luckily not proving so.

The song was nominated for the Academy Award for Movie themes, the first nomination for a Bond theme, but the award that year went to ‘The Way We Were’.

The use of pyrotechnics for this clip was a new thing, and one that the band then included for all their later live performance concerts, where this song was always a huge hit, with the fireworks display as part of the song, albeit without the exploding piano. Even though this song never appeared on any studio album, it has appeared on nearly every live album the band has recorded.

The song made it to Number 2 on the mainstream American charts and was a Top Ten hit in the UK, as well as doing well all across the World. To this day, it remains as one of the most popular of the many themes from the James Bond series of movies.

The song remains an evergreen popular song at all performances, both for the band Wings, and later, when McCartney continued his solo career.

This song is also one of the most ‘covered’ of all the songs Wings produced.


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