The Paul McCartney Project

Live And Let Die

Album This song officially appears on the Live And Let Die 7" Single.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1973
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

Other original film songs by Paul McCartney

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Live and Let Die” is the main theme song of the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die, written by Paul and Linda McCartney and performed by Paul’s band Wings. It was one of the group’s most successful singles, and the most successful Bond theme to that point, charting at No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart.

Commissioned specifically for the movie and credited to Paul and Linda McCartney, it reunited the former Beatle with the band’s producer, George Martin, who both produced the song and arranged the orchestral break. It has been covered by several bands, with Guns N’ Roses’ version being the most popular. Both McCartney’s and Guns N’ Roses’ versions were nominated for Grammys. In 2012, McCartney was awarded the Million-Air Award from Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), for more than 4 million performances of the song in the US.

Background and recording

Even before Tom Mankiewicz had finished writing the screenplay to Live and Let Die, producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli invited Paul McCartney to write the theme song. McCartney asked to be sent a copy of Ian Fleming’s novel. “I read it and thought it was pretty good. That afternoon I wrote the song and went in the next week and did it … It was a job of work for me in a way because writing a song around a title like that’s not the easiest thing going.

Originally, producer Harry Saltzman was interested in having Shirley Bassey or Thelma Houston perform it instead of Wings. Martin said McCartney would allow the song to be used in the movie only if Wings was able to perform the song in the opening credits. Saltzman, who had previously rejected the chance to produce A Hard Day’s Night, decided not to make the same mistake twice and agreed. A second version of the song, performed by B. J. Arnau, also appears in the film. Arnau’s performance originally was meant for the group Fifth Dimension. 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“.

Wings recorded “Live and Let Die” during the sessions for the Red Rose Speedway album, in October 1972. The song was taped at A.I.R. Studios, with Ray Cooper providing percussion instruments.

Release and aftermath

The single reached No. 2 in the United States and No. 9 in the United Kingdom. The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies. 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’. On the soundtrack album, however, the song was credited to ‘Paul McCartney & Wings’ and was credited as such in the opening titles to the film. “Live and Let Die” was the last McCartney single on Apple Records that was credited only to ‘Wings’.

Live and Let Die” was not featured on a McCartney album until the Wings Greatest compilation in 1978, and was included again on 1987’s All the Best! and 2001’s Wingspan: Hits and History. The entire soundtrack also was released in quadrophonic.

Live and Let Die” was the first James Bond theme song to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song (garnering McCartney his second Academy Award nomination and Linda her first), but lost to the theme song from The Way We Were.

In Wings’ live performances of the song, the instrumental break featured flashpots and a laser light show. McCartney has continued to play the song on his solo tours, often using pyrotechnics when playing outdoor and indoor venues. “Live and Let Die” is the only song to appear on all of McCartney’s live albums (except for the acoustic-based Unplugged)

Lyrics

Comments have been made over the years about the lyrics that ambiguously are either “this ever-changing world in which we live in” or “this ever-changing world in which we’re living“. The “in which we live in” version has been cited as being redundant and/or improper grammar. When asked about the lyrics, McCartney responded that he doesn’t remember for sure himself, but that he thinks it is “in which we’re living“.

Following the attacks on 11 September 2001, the song was placed on Clear Channel’s list of inappropriate song titles. […]

Parody

In 1984, McCartney asked “Weird Al” Yankovic when he was going to parody one of his songs. A couple of years later, Yankovic asked for permission to put his parody “Chicken Pot Pie” on an album (as a courtesy; legally he did not need permission). McCartney denied the use because he is a vegetarian and didn’t want to promote the eating of meat. Fellow vegetarian Yankovic said he respected the decision; however, he has performed the song live. […]

From The Beatles Bible:

The film producers found a record player. After the record had finished they said to George, ‘That’s great, 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!’ – Paul McCartney

From “The Beatles: Off The Record 2 – The Dream is Over: Off the Record“, by Keith Badman:

Paul (during the film ‘s production at Pinewood Studios in Iver, Buckinghamshire) “I’m really chuffed to be doing the theme for Roger. I think he’ll be great in the Bond role and l’m working on the right music for him. I’m also doing two or three songs for the film. Maybe we’ll be using music played by Wings. I’m not sure about writing the whole film score — We’ll just have to see how it goes… I read the Live And Let Die book in one day, started writing that evening and came on the next day and finished it by the next evening. I sat down at the piano, worked something out and then got in touch with George Martin, who produced it with us. Linda wrote the middle reggae bit of the song. We rehearsed it as a band, recorded it and then left it up to him… I wouldn’t have liked it if my music was going to replace John Barry’s, that great ‘James Bond’ theme. I know I’d miss that. I go to see him turn round and fire down the gun barrel. Our bit comes after he’s done that and after the three killings at the beginning. I’m good at writing to order with things like that. I’d like to write jingles really, I’m pretty fair at that, a craftsman. It keeps me a bit tight, like writing to a deadline, knowing I’ve got two minutes three seconds with a definitive story theme.”

Paul, shortly after the film’s release in July, “I enjoyed not being able to get into the cinema in Jamaica because it was sold out. You know, I told the guy at the door, ‘But I wrote the bloody tune!’ But the man said, ‘No use, man. Get out'”

From The Beatles Bible:

The film producers found a record player. After the record had finished they said to George, ‘That’s great, 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!’ – Paul McCartney

From “The Beatles: Off The Record 2 – The Dream is Over: Off the Record“, by Keith Badman:

Paul (during the film ‘s production at Pinewood Studios in Iver, Buckinghamshire) “I’m really chuffed to be doing the theme for Roger. I think he’ll be great in the Bond role and l’m working on the right music for him. I’m also doing two or three songs for the film. Maybe we’ll be using music played by Wings. I’m not sure about writing the whole film score — We’ll just have to see how it goes… I read the Live And Let Die book in one day, started writing that evening and came on the next day and finished it by the next evening. I sat down at the piano, worked something out and then got in touch with George Martin, who produced it with us. Linda wrote the middle reggae bit of the song. We rehearsed it as a band, recorded it and then left it up to him… I wouldn’t have liked it if my music was going to replace John Barry’s, that great ‘James Bond’ theme. I know I’d miss that. I go to see him turn round and fire down the gun barrel. Our bit comes after he’s done that and after the three killings at the beginning. I’m good at writing to order with things like that. I’d like to write jingles really, I’m pretty fair at that, a craftsman. It keeps me a bit tight, like writing to a deadline, knowing I’ve got two minutes three seconds with a definitive story theme.”

Paul, shortly after the film’s release in July, “I enjoyed not being able to get into the cinema in Jamaica because it was sold out. You know, I told the guy at the door, ‘But I wrote the bloody tune!’ But the man said, ‘No use, man. Get out'”

Paul McCartney in "Wingspan: Paul McCartney's Band on the Run":

As a songwriter it was always one of my ambitions to compose a James Bond film song. I realised it wouldn’t be easy but it appealed to me. Ron Kass, who had worked at Apple, knew the people at the film company and he asked if I would be interested in writing the theme for Live and Let Die. I said yes, and they sent me the lan Fleming novel and I read and liked it, and the next day I sat down to see if I could write the song. I got the fairly straightforward idea of ‘live and let die and live and let live’, and I also knew that I had to incorporate explosions. George Martin produced the session and wrote an arrangement for the middle, and Linda wrote the reggae bit. We recorded it with an orchestra and then George took it out to wherever they were filming, in the Caribbean somewhere. The producers listened to it and said, That’s a great demo, who’s going to make the real record?’ George had to tell them this was the real record. They had thought I was going to write it for someone else to sing.

Last updated on October 29, 2018

Lyrics

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)
If this ever changing world in which we live in, makes you give it a 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 got to do it well,
You gotta give the other fellow hell

You used to say live and let live.
(You know you did, you know you did, you know you did.)
If this ever changing world in which we live in, makes you give it a cry.
Say live and let die!

Live and let die!
Live and let die!
Live and let die!

Officially appears on


Live And Let Die

7" Single • Released in 1973

3:13 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Bass (?), Electric guitar (?), Percussion (?), Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals
Denny Laine:
Backing vocals, Bass (?), Electric guitar (?)
George Martin:
Producer
Henry McCullough:
Electric guitar
Denny Seiwell:
Drums, Percussion (?)
Ray Cooper:
Duck-call, Percussion (?), Tympani

Session Recording:
Oct 19, 1972
Studio:
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Recording:
Oct 20, 1972
Studio:
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Recording:
Oct 21, 1972
Studio:
AIR Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Wings Over America

Official live • Released in 1976

3:34 • LiveL1

Paul McCartney:
Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Keyboard, Vocals
Denny Laine:
Bass, Vocals
Jimmy McCulloch:
Electric guitar, Vocals
Howie Casey:
Saxophone
Joe English:
Drums, Vocals
Thaddeus Richard:
Flute
Mark Vigars:
Assistant mixing engineer
Phil McDonald:
Mixing engineer, Overdubs recording
Steve Howard:
Trumpet
Tony Dorsey:
Trombone
Jack Maxson:
Recording engineer
Tom Walsh:
Assistant recording engineer

Concert From the concert in Boston, USA on May 22, 1976


Wings Greatest

Official album • Released in 1978

3:14 • Studio versionA


All The Best!

Official album • Released in 1987

3:13 • Studio versionA


Tripping The Live Fantastic

Official live • Released in 1990

3:12 • LiveL2

Performed by:
Paul McCartneyLinda McCartneyRobbie McIntoshHamish StuartPaul WickensChris Whitten
Paul McCartney:
Producer
Eddie Klein:
Assistant engineer
Matt Butler:
Assistant engineer
Peter Henderson:
Producer
Bob Clearmountain:
Mixing engineer, Producer
Jeff Cohen:
Recording engineer
Geoff Foster:
Assistant engineer
Scott Hull:
Assistant engineer
George Cowan:
Assistant engineer
Paul Rushbrook:
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Gothenburg, Sweden on Sep 28, 1989


Paul McCartney ROCKS

Official album • Released in 1990

3:16 • Studio versionA


Paul Is Live

Official live • Released in 1993

3:52 • LiveL3

Performed by:
Paul McCartneyLinda McCartneyRobbie McIntoshHamish StuartPaul WickensBlair Cunningham
Paul McCartney:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineering, Mixing
Julian Mendelsohn:
Recording
Bob Kraushaar:
Recording

Concert From the concert in Boulder, USA on May 26, 1993


Wingspan Hits And History

Official album • Released in 2001

3:13 • Studio versionA


Wingspan: Hits & History [CD Sampler]

Official album • Released in 2001

3:12 • Studio versionA


Back In The U.S.

Official live • Released in 2002

3:05 • LiveL4

Paul McCartney:
Executive producer
Performed by:
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
David Kahne:
Producer
Michael Brauer:
Engineer
Ricardo Chavarria:
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Dallas, USA on May 09, 2002


Bootlegs


MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol. 5

Unofficial album

3:15 • Studio version


MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol. 5

Unofficial album

3:24 • Studio version


MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol.29

Unofficial album

3:13 • Studio version


MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol.29

Unofficial album

2:33 • Studio version


Live At The Camden Roundhouse

Unofficial live

3:06 • Studio version


Live performances

“Live And Let Die” has been played in 656 concerts and 4 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where “Live And Let Die” has been played


Glasgow • SSE Hydro

Dec 14, 2018 • Part of Freshen Up Tour


Liverpool • Echo Arena

Dec 12, 2018 • Part of Freshen Up Tour




Krakow • Tauron Arena

Dec 03, 2018 • Part of Freshen Up Tour



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