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To coincide with the launch of the latest James Bond movie Goldeneye Paul recently agreed to be interviewed for a TV special, to be aired in Britain this Christmas, In Search Of James Bond With Jonathan Ross, discussing his music for Live And Let Die and other issues of a 007 nature. Here’s what he had to say.
YOUR CONNECTION WITH BOND?
I saw Bond – Goldfinger, I think – and immediately went out and bought an Aston Martin [car]. I never made the connection at the time but Bond must have had an influence..
It’s natural for a songwriter to aspire to write a Bond theme, that was one of the notches you wanted on your belt in those days. I talked to Ron Kass about it – he used to work with us at Apple – and he told the Bond producer that I’d be up for it.
HOW DID YOU WRITE THE SONG?
I read the Live And Let Die book on a Saturday, got the feel of it and on the Sunday sat down at the piano and wrote the music. Linda and I dug around with the words for a bit, then I asked George Martin if he’d produce it and we recorded it with Wings, all mixed, all proper, as you hear it in the film. George took it out to the Caribbean, where they were shooting the movie, and the film producers found a record player. After the record had finished they said to George, “That’s great, George, a wonderful demo. Now, when are you going to make the real track, and who shall we get to sing it?” And George said, “What? This is the real track!”
WHAT ABOUT THE EXPLOSIONS?
Because it’s a Bond theme I don’t think you can do a little acoustic song. It wouldn’t work. Bond is too “boom-bang” for that. So we put in the explosions. When we perform it on tour it’s the bit we dread the most because they’re so loud and we’re right on top of them.
DID YOU SEE LIVE AND LET DIE AFTER IT CAME OUT?
Yes, I saw it in Jamaica. It was an all-black audience, which was great because they really were going for it, shouting and commenting on everything. I sat there completely unrecognised. I wanted to stand up and say “I wrote that music!” but they’d probably have told me to shut up and sit down, so I didn’t.
WHAT ABOUT THE COVER VERSION BY GUNS N’ ROSES?
We did a small gig in New York at the start of the 1989-90 World Tour, just as a tryout, to get the feel of an audience again, and Axl Rose was backstage. He said to me, “I really like your slow songs, I really like ‘The Long And Winding Road'”, which I was surprised at. And then, off his own bat, he went and did a great version of ‘Live And Let Die’. The song was re-born with their version. School friends of my kids were saying, “Have you heard the new Guns N’ Roses song? It’s great, very cool” and my daughter would be trying to say, “My Dad wrote that” but they would reply, “Get out of it!”
WHAT OTHER BOND THEMES DID YOU LIKE?
I liked ‘From Russia With Love’, and ‘Goldfinger’ was one of the all-time greats, sung by Burly Chassis … er, Shirley Bassey.
HOW MANY BOND MOVIES HAVE YOU SEEN?
All of them bar one or two. My favourite? Goldfinger was pretty good, but Live And Let Die just about pips it, especially with that opening sequence with the song. Seriously … Goldfinger, probably, with that very threatening laser sequence. Thanks to Goldfinger I didn’t realise that laser was only a light, so when I saw Led Zeppelin in concert and Robert Plant was dancing around a laser light I really thought “He’ll have his leg off.”
what’s the attraction of bond films? They were the original big action films, like the ones that Bruce Willis and Arnie [Schwarzenegger] do now. Bond was the start of all that, the larger-than-life secret agent, killing everyone he met and finding that the girls he slept with were trying to kill him. Sex and violence, that’s the attraction. The films are also slightly ludicrous and tongue-in-cheek.
WHO HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE BOND?
Sean Connery, with his suave, throwaway approach. He was the Bond for me. Roger Moore did a great job but I think of Sean as the original.
DID YOU MEET ANY OF THE STARS?
Yes, I met Roger Moore and Jane Seymour. I’ve seen Roger on and off over the years. In fact, we went skiing once and there he was, ahead of us, skiing like a devil.
WHO WOULD YOU RECKON ON MOST, IN A BARE-KNUCKLE FIGHT, ROGER MOORE OR SEAN CONNERY?
I think it would have to be Sean, but Roger might nut him or something. But they’re both great actors and wonderful people.
GIVEN THE CHANCE, WOULD YOU HAVE ACCEPTED THE CHANCE TO PLAY JAMES BOND?
I would have. I would have needed to workout a little, but not much. I could have done it. I coulda been a contender.