Bonfire Night, More Bond Themes and ‘Live And Let Die’

Well, it’s Guy Fawkes Night, but there will be no big ‘town display’ tonight down at the municipal playing fields. There will probably be a few small displays in back gardens (look out for your pets folks), but nothing grander. Shame all these festivals, Halloween, Christmas and Bonfire Night, land during the coldest and wettest time of the year here in Scotland, as we’ve had a fair few soakings and frostbitten fingers over the years.

For those who are not from the UK, Guy Fawkes Night will mean nothing to you, so by way of explanation, here is an abbreviated version of the Wiki entry about the aforementioned chap:

Guy Fawkes (1570 – 1606), was a member of a group of English Catholics who was involved in the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Fawkes had fought for Catholic Spain in the Eighty Years’ War against Protestant Dutch reformers. When he returned to England he was introduced to Robert Catesby, who planned to assassinate King James I, and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne.

Guy Fawkes

The plotters leased an ‘undercroft’ (a cellar) beneath the House of Lords and Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder they stockpiled there. An anonymous letter to the authorities prompted a search of Westminster Palace during the early hours of 5 November, and they found Fawkes with the explosives. After being tortured he confessed to wanting to blow up the House of Lords.

Fawkes was later sentenced to death but he became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, the failure of which has been commemorated in the UK as Guy Fawkes Night since 5 November 1605, when his effigy is traditionally burned on a bonfire, accompanied by fireworks.

Growing up, it was an exciting annual event, and as our back garden was joined to three others (we had the gable-end, prized in a terrace), the dads usually built a big communal bonfire. In the preceding couple of weeks, all the kids collected their fireworks. There were ‘selection boxes’, with a mix of all the usual suspects, Catherine wheels, bangers, and rockets, but also packets of sparklers and individual fireworks of the more spectacular nature.

Needless the say, over the years there were a fair amount of nasty accidents involving fireworks (none for us thankfully), so nowadays people are encouraged to attend well-supervised, organised displays. Let’s hope this year there won’t be a return to the past, as the dads, although well intentioned, just don’t have the training of our local Fire Officers.

The best display our town ever held was when they used Bond themes to choreograph the igniting of the fireworks. It was a dry night for once, with clear skies, so a pretty spectacular event. I’ve written about Bond themes this week already, so appropriate to share this song, as it’s often accompanied by stunning pyrotechnics even when it’s not Guy Fawkes night. I give you Live And Let Die by Wings from 1973.

Live And Let Die by Wings:


The song was written for the film of the same name, the eighth in the Bond series, this time starring Roger Moore. Paul McCartney, along with wife Linda, wrote the song and on this occasion George Martin wrote the film score, as John Barry was unavailable. Performed by their group Wings, it was the first ‘rock and roll’ song used to open a Bond film, and became a major success, reaching No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 2 in the US. It was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost out that year to The Way We Were.

Stay safe, as we keep saying nowadays, but tonight I mean beware of stray fireworks. No doubt we’ll still see a fair few light up our skies.

Until next time….

Live And Let Die Lyrics
(Song by Paul McCartney/Linda McCartney)

When you were young and your heart was an open book
You used to say live and let live
(you know you did, you know you did you know you did)
But if this ever changing world in which we’re living
Makes you give in and cry

Say live and let die
Live and let die
Live and let die
Live and let die

What does it matter to ya
When you got a job to do
You gotta do it well
You gotta give the other fellow hell

When you were young and your heart was an open book
You used to say live and let live
(you know you did, you know you did you know you did)
But if this ever changing world in which we’re living
Makes you give in and cry

Say live and let die
Live and let die
Live and let die
Live and let die

The Sad Loss of Sean Connery and Bond Themes, Which Is Your Favourite?

Television news is very much focused on one topic at the moment, but last Saturday we found out that Sean Connery had passed away in his sleep, and it was a big story. Sean was born in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh in 1930, and despite coming from humble origins he often found himself voted ‘The Greatest Living Scot’ or ‘Scotland’s Greatest Living National Treasure’. Quite something for someone who started life as a milkman.

The joke of course is that Sean Connery always did an excellent job of playing Sean Connery, in every film role, but we didn’t care. Whether he was a Spaniard in Highlander, an Irishman in The Untouchables or indeed the debonair James Bond, he always had the same Scottish accent, but somehow it just worked.

RIP Sean Connery

Back in the early days of this blog I once spent an entire Sunday afternoon visiting all the theme songs from over 50 years of Bond films, and put together my own list, ranked by personal preference. Now seems to be the right time to revisit that list. As I said back then, there is mixed opinion on which is the best theme song ever, but at the time my winner was You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatra from the 1967 film of the same name. Over the years Nancy has often appeared on these pages, and she’s my girl crush, so I’m certainly not going to depose her now.

You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatra:


The song has a really beautiful intro which Robbie Williams cleverly used for his recording of Millennium in 1998. In the video for Millennium, Robbie, dressed in a tuxedo, parodies James Bond and references many of the early Sean Connery films. Turned out to be a great way to get back on top after his departure from Take That.

But back to my list, Nancy was up there at the top, with Paul McCartney & Wings coming a close second. The theme from Moonraker was down at the very bottom for me at the time (also one of the worst films in the franchise). The rest of the list goes as follows:

All Bond Theme Songs – Personal Ranking (feel free to disagree)

1. You Only Live Twice – 1967 – Nancy Sinatra
2. Live and Let Die – 1973 – Paul McCartney & Wings
3. For Your Eyes Only – 1981 – Sheena Easton
4. The Spy Who Loved Me – 1977 – Carly Simon
5. The Living Daylights – 1987 – A-ha
6. The World Is Not Enough – 1999 – Garbage
7. From Russia with Love – 1963 – Matt Monro
8. Goldfinger – 1964 – Shirley Bassey
9. Skyfall – 2012 – Adele
10.We Have All the Time in the World – 1969 – Louis Armstrong
11.Diamonds Are Forever – 1971 – Shirley Bassey
12.All Time High – 1983 – Rita Coolidge
13.Licence to Kill – 1989 – Gladys Knight
14.A View to a Kill – 1985 – Duran Duran
15.Thunderball – 1965 – Tom Jones
16.GoldenEye – 1995 – Tina Turner
17.Tomorrow Never Dies – 1997 – Sheryl Crow
18.Writing’s on the Wall – 2015 – Sam Smith
19.Die Another Day – 2002 – Madonna
20.The Man with the Golden Gun – 1974 – Lulu
21.Another Way To Die – 2008 – Jack White & Alicia Keys
22.You Know My Name – 2006 – Chris Cornell
23.Moonraker – 1979 – Shirley Bassey

I still think the I still think the Golden Age of Bond films was the Sean Connery era or perhaps it’s just that I am reminded of watching them on television as a child. By the early ’70s they were a staple on high days and holidays and because the world was a much bigger place then, with foreign travel something very few of us experienced, it was worth watching them for the glamorous locations alone. Had another actor played the role of James Bond in those early films, they may well not have been as successful, so a franchise still going strong today, all started with the milkman from Edinburgh.

Now that I’ve done all the hard work, what’s your favourite Bond theme? I’d love to hear from you, and as you know by now, I always reply.

Until next time…, RIP Sean Connery.

You Only Live Twice Lyrics
(Song by Leslie Bricusse/John Barry)

You only live twice or so it seems
One life for yourself and one for your dreams
You drift through the years and life seems tame
Till one dream appears and love is it’s name

And love is a stranger who’ll beckon you on
Don’t think of the danger or the stranger is gone

This dream is for you, so pay the price
Make one dream come true, you only live twice

Bond Themes, Nancy Sinatra and “You Only Live Twice”

Yesterday I wrote about Rise Like a Pheonix, the song that won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014, and how it was very much in the style of a James Bond theme song. Led me to think about all those great (and some not so great) themes from over 50 years of Bond films and I have put together my own list, ranked by personal preference. There are many such lists out there and it seems there is mixed opinion on which is the best theme song ever but at the moment, for me, it is You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatra from the 1967 film of the same name.

You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatra:

The song has a really beautiful intro which Robbie Williams cleverly used for his recording of Millennium in 1998. In the video for Millennium, Robbie, dressed in a tuxedo parodies James Bond and references many of the early Sean Connery films. Turned out to be a great way to get back on top after his departure from Take That.

But back to my list – Nancy up there at the top at the moment but like any list it changes all the time, especially with oft-heard songs such as these. There seems to be a tipping point at which a song has just been listened to just once too often and it goes from being a joy, to something you have become a bit tired and weary of hearing. I hate when that happens and rush to turn off the radio if one of my all-time favourites comes on as I just don’t want to reach that point any sooner than need be.

nancy

All Bond Theme Songs – Personal Ranking (feel free to disagree)

1. You Only Live Twice – 1967 – Nancy Sinatra
2. Live and Let Die – 1973 – Paul McCartney & Wings
3. For Your Eyes Only – 1981 – Sheena Easton
4. The Spy Who Loved Me – 1977 – Carly Simon
5. The Living Daylights – 1987 – A-ha
6. The World Is Not Enough – 1999 – Garbage
7. From Russia with Love – 1963 – Matt Monro
8. Goldfinger – 1964 – Shirley Bassey
9. Skyfall – 2012 – Adele
10.We Have All the Time in the World – 1969 – Louis Armstrong
11.Diamonds Are Forever – 1971 – Shirley Bassey
12.All Time High – 1983 – Rita Coolidge
13.Licence to Kill – 1989 – Gladys Knight
14.A View to a Kill – 1985 – Duran Duran
15.Thunderball – 1965 – Tom Jones
16.GoldenEye – 1995 – Tina Turner
17.Tomorrow Never Dies – 1997 – Sheryl Crow
18.Writing’s on the Wall – 2015 – Sam Smith
19.Die Another Day – 2002 – Madonna
20.The Man with the Golden Gun – 1974 – Lulu
21.Another Way To Die – 2008 – Jack White & Alicia Keys
22.You Know My Name – 2006 – Chris Cornell
23.Moonraker – 1979 – Shirley Bassey

you

I still think the Golden Age of Bond movies was the Sean Connery era or perhaps it is just that I am reminded of watching them on television as a child. By the early ’70s they were a staple on high days and holidays and because the world was a much bigger place then, with foreign travel something very few of us experienced, it was worth watching them for the glamorous locations alone. Although the age of feminism and bra-burning had well and truly started by then, it really didn’t filter through to Bond movies until the Timothy Dalton era and for many of us, that was a low point in the franchise. To try and make Bond politically correct was a stretch but with the latest batch of movies starring Daniel Craig as Bond, they seem to have found the right balance.

And if you want to compare intros, here is a clip of Robbie playing Mr Bond – Don’t think he’ll ever get the main gig but it was great fun watching him in those videos from his album “I’ve Been Expecting You”. A wonderful homage to those glamorous films of the ’60s.

Millennium by Robbie Williams:

You Only Live Twice Lyrics
(Song by Leslie Bricusse/John Barry)

You only live twice or so it seems
One life for yourself and one for your dreams
You drift through the years and life seems tame
Till one dream appears and love is it’s name

And love is a stranger who’ll beckon you on
Don’t think of the danger or the stranger is gone

This dream is for you, so pay the price
Make one dream come true, you only live twice

Postscript:

Just in case anyone else has “anorak tendencies” like myself, yes there have been 24 Bond movies to date (and two by other production companies) but the first one, Dr No in 1962, did not have a title song. Monty Norman did however compose the now infamous James Bond theme for it which has been used in all the films since.

For the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service starring one-time Bond George Lazenby, John Barry was the composer of the opening theme of the same name but Louis Armstrong’s song We Have All The Time In The World was a secondary theme, played at the end of the film. The only other exception to the rule was that Matt Monro’s vocal version of From Russia With Love was not played for the opening titles to that film but used for the closing credits.