Live And Let Die

Album This song officially appears on the Live And Let Die / I Lie Around 7" Single.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1973

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.
From Sunday Mirror – Sunday 15 October 1972

Basically, it was done with Denny (Laine) on bass, Paul on piano, myself on guitar and Denny (Seiwell) on drums with a 40-piece orchestra on top which was done by… you know that guy that did all The Beatles stuff… George Martin. It was him that got the orchestra together and we just went in one day at 2 o’clock and rehearsed it till about 6 and recorded live at 7 after only three takes which was great. I think it’s a great single, you know, I really do. I mean a great rocker at heart but all the same it gets to me.

Henry McCullough – From interview for Sounds, April 14, 1973

From Live and let fly: the tall tale of Paul McCartney’s 007 theme song is revealed | Paul McCartney | The Guardian, December 18, 2022:

[Allan] Kozinn, music critic of the New York Times for 38 years until 2014, said: “This has been a longstanding story in the music world – the producers of Live and Let Die wanted to replace McCartney with a female singer. Martin told the story many times. Paul’s picked it up many times. Actually, the internal communications revealed that it was always in the contract that there would be two versions of the song.”

In his 1979 memoir, All You Need is Ears, Martin recalled playing McCartney’s recording to Harry Saltzman, who produced the Bond films with Albert “Cubby” Broccoli: “He sat me down and said, ‘Great. Like what you did, very nice record, like the score. Now tell me, who do you think we should get to sing it?’ That took me completely aback. After all, he was holding the Paul McCartney recording we had made. And Paul McCartney was – Paul McCartney. But he was clearly treating it as a demo disc. ‘I don’t follow. You’ve got Paul McCartney,’ I said. ‘Yeah, yeah, that’s good. But who are we going to get to sing it for the film?’ ‘I’m sorry. I still don’t follow,’ I said, feeling that maybe there was something I hadn’t been told. ‘You know – we’ve got to have a girl, haven’t we?’”

In one interview, McCartney said: “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’.”

[Adrian] Sinclair, an award-winning documentary-maker, said: “That became part of that collection of stories that George and Paul would tell over the years, and nobody ever corrected it.”

He added that the archival material – internal communications between lawyers and others representing McCartney and the Bond producers, Eon Productions – “undermines the story and shows it in a very different light”.

The contracts reveal that McCartney’s father-in-law lawyer, Lee Eastman, negotiated him a fee of $15,000 (£6,430 at that time) for composing Live and Let Die with his then wife, Linda. Further financial arrangements, including the publishing rights, earned him about $50,000, with 50% of the net profits.

In one of the documents, Ron Kass, former head of Beatles label Apple Records employed by Eon, wrote to Saltzman: “Paul McCartney has agreed to write the title song entitled Live and Let Die. He and his musical group Wings will perform the title song under the opening titles.”

Kozinn said: “So we can pretty definitively say that they were not going to replace Paul. One of the versions was going to be with Wings, which would play over the opening titles of the film and the closing credits. There would be a live version of the song performed during the club scene byBJ Arnau, a soul singer. When we saw those documents we couldn’t help but think it was just a misunderstanding.

“Martin wouldn’t have been familiar with the terms of that contract, but Paul certainly would have. One of the things we discovered is that, if it’s a good story, Paul will go with it. He didn’t have any reason to assume that anybody would see that contract.”

Last updated on December 24, 2022

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 / I Lie Around

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
Bill Price :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

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

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

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

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


One Hand Clapping (2 LP edition)

LP • Released in 1974

3:26 • Studio versionC • Nothing new here but a more balanced mix with more space for the orchestra to shine.

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Mellotron
Denny Laine :
Backing vocals
Jimmy McCulloch :
Electric guitar
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Geoff Britton :
Drums
Mark Vigars :
Assistant recording engineer (?)
John Barrett :
Assistant recording engineer (?)
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
Aug 27, 1974
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Aug 29, 1974
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Early 2024
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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

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
Bill Price :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

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

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

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

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


All The Best! (Box Set)

Official album • Released in 1987

3:10 • 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
Bill Price :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

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

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

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

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


All The Best! (UK version)

Official album • Released in 1987

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
Bill Price :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

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

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

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

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


All The Best! (US version)

Official album • Released in 1987

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
Bill Price :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

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

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

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

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


Paul McCartney ROCKS

Official album • Released in 1990

3:16 • 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
Bill Price :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

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

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

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

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


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


All Time Favourites

Official album • Released in 1993

Studio version


Latest concerts where Live And Let Die has been played






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