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Live And Let Die

by

Paul McCartney & Wings



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

A play on the phrase "live and let live," this was the title song for the 8th James Bond film. It was the first to star Roger Moore as Bond. Wings co-founder and original drummer Denny Seiwell said of this song: "Everybody thought it was cool that we were doing something for James Bond. I remember what Paul told us - he said a couple weeks before we did the actual recording, he said they wanted him to write the theme to the next James Bond movie, and they sent him the book to read. And we were up at the house one day and he had just read the book the night before, and he sat down at the piano and said, 'James Bond... James Bond... da-da-dum!', and he started screwing around at the piano. Within 10 minutes, he had that song written. It was awesome, really. Just to watch him get in there and write the song was really something I'll remember the rest of my life." (thanks, DeeTheWriter - Saint Petersburg, Russia Federation)
McCartney was given a copy of the Ian Fleming novel to read and he read the book one Saturday, during a break from sessions for the Red Rose Speedway album before penning the tune on the following day. The former Beatle recalled the writing of the song in an interview with the October 2010 edition of Mojo magazine: "I got the book and it's a very fast read. On the Sunday, I sat down and thought, OK, the hardest thing to do here is to work in that title. I mean, later I really pitied who had the job of writing Quantum Of Solace. So I thought, Live And Let Die, OK, really what they mean is live and let live and there's the switch.
So I came at it from the very obvious angle. I just thought, 'When you were younger you used to say that, but now you say this.'"
George Martin produced this and arranged the orchestra. Martin produced most of The Beatles work, so this was McCartney's chance to work with him again.
This was the most successful Bond theme up to that point. Other hits from James Bond movies include "Nobody Does It Better" by Carly Simon (from The Spy Who Loved Me, "For Your Eyes Only" by Sheena Easton, and "A View To A Kill" by Duran Duran.
McCartney performed this on his solo tours in 1989-1990 and 1993.
McCartney was initially asked to write a song for the movie for someone else to perform. He agreed to write it only if his band Wings could perform it.
Guns N' Roses covered this in 1991 on Use Your Illusion I. Shannon Hoon from Blind Melon sang backup on the track.
When this song was played live, Linda McCartney was often criticized for having a lack of musical ability, because she played her piano-like instrument one-fingered. The instrument was, in fact, an Electone, which only plays one note at a time. (thanks, Confusing - Sydney, Australia)
McCartney's James Bond connection was Albert Broccoli, who produced many of the films. Someone at Apple Records knew Broccoli, who wanted McCartney to do the title song for the 1971 Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. That fell through because of contractual problems, but they were able to connect for the next film, Live and Let Die.
In 1973, this song took home the Grammy award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals. It was credited to Wings and George Martin. (thanks, Tommy - flower mound, TX)
Weird Al Yankovic wrote a parody of this song and called it "Chicken Pot Pie." Although legally not required to, as a professional courtesy Yankovic seeks permission from the original artists before he releases parodies. McCartney, a vegetarian (as is Yankovic), didn't approve of the carnivorous title, so Yankovic never released a recording of the song, although he does perform it in concert as part of a medley of food-centric parodies. Any concert release that includes the food medley has "Chicken Pot Pie" edited out. (thanks, Sean - Chicago, IL)
Roger Moore told the London Times August 1, 2008 about Bond producer Harry Saltzman's reaction when he first heard the demo of this song. He recalled: "Saltzman was unconvinced, and he turned to George Martin and said: 'Ok, but who are we going to get to sing it?' George replied that he had just listened to Paul McCartney, one of the biggest recording stars of all time."
This song spent three weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Nothing unusual in that. However, it was the first hit in chart history to spend those three weeks at #2 when a different song was #1 for each of those three weeks! It's first week at #2 was the week of August 11, 1973 and "The Morning After" by Maureen McGovern was ending its two week stint at the top. On August 18, "Touch Me in the Morning" by Diana Ross leapfrogged "Live And Let Die" to assume the #1 spot. Then, on August 25, "Brother Louie" by the Stories did exactly the same thing. The same thing happened in 1975 to "I'm Not In Love" by 10cc. (thanks, Rick - Calgary, Canada)
McCartney played this at halftime of the 2005 Super Bowl. It was the only non-Beatles song in his set.
This was voted the best Bond theme ever in a poll of BBC Radio 2 and 5 Live listeners conducted in 2012 to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Dr. No. Carly Simon's "Nobody Does it Better" was the runner-up, while "Goldfinger," sung by Shirley Bassey, came in third.
Paul McCartney & Wings
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Comments (55):

On June 27th 1973, the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die" opened in theaters across the U.S.A. and Canada...
Nine days later on July 6th it had its official world premier at the Odeon Leicester Square cinema in London, England...
And on August 5th the title song by Paul McCartney & Wings reached #2 (for 3 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and for each of those 3 weeks a different song was at #1 ("The Morning After" by Maureen McGovern, then "Touch Me In The Morning" by Diana Ross, and finally "Brother Louie" by Stories)...
(See next post below for additional chart info).
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
On April 16th 1973, Paul McCartney and Wings introduced the video "Live and Let Die" on the ABC-TV special 'James Paul McCartney'...
Ten weeks later on July 1st the song entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #69; and on August 5th it peaked at #2 (for 3 weeks) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 7 of those 14 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
R.I.P. Linda McCartney (1941 - 1998), Jimmy McCulloch (1953 - 1979), and Sir Paul will celebrate his 72nd birthday in two months on June 18th.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
Tom in Huntsville, you are right. He only says "in" once, not three times. Paul's line isn't grammatically perfect, but not because of an extra "in." It's because of the vernacular pronunciation of -ing endings and a dropped auxiliary verb:

And if this ever-changin' world in which we livin' makes you give in and cry.

It's clear he means the world in which we're livin', or in which we be livin'. We livin' is just the present continuous with a dropped auxiliary verb. Hey, if Bob Marley can sing "We jammin'."
- Dave, Moscow, Russia Federation
Everyone, please go back and listen carefully to this song. Sir Paul is clearly saying "but if this ever-changing world in which we're livin'"
He only says the word "in" once.
- Tom, Huntsville, AL
I loved the song when it was released - perfect for the era and the Roger Moore Bond style - but couldn't help feeling it was substantially marred by the famous grammar error - and he was indeed singing, "in which we live in". Too bad, because the correct alternative would have been so easily inserted ("but if this ever changing world in which we're livin' makes you ...). I'm pretty sure I've heard him singing the latter in concert for about the last twenty years.
- Bruce, burlington, ON
This song was nominated for Best Song at the 1973 Academy Awards {Lost to "The Way We Were" from the movie of the same name}!!!
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
I have been a proofreader and I can assure "Daevid" in Glendale, CA, that the line, "But in this ever-changin' world in which we live in," is -- most assuredly -- *not* proper English.

Not only is there the redundant *in* -- let us leave aside the issue of it splitting an implied prepositional phrase -- there is that nasty, apostrophized *changin'*.

But -- crucially -- not only is it certifiably bad grammar -- far worse -- it sounds blinkin' stoopid! And a half.
- ks2problema, Everywhereville, USA, CA
Phil in Edmonton - i couldn't have said it better. (red/blue) Also, being part of the grammar police is a BUZZKILL. We're here to celebrate music, not mark tests. Although I LOVE when instant karma (pun intended) nabs the grammar police - they almost always make a grammar or spelling error in the sentence that complains about the error!

ANYWAY, I love this song, it's one of Paul's best. My band Raised On Radio is learning it right now for our upcoming shows.
- Stu, Philly, PA
This hit was performed by Paul McCartney and Wings on their Wings Over America tour, fairly shortly after the film had been released. It was a spectacular performance when they played it in Denver in the summer of '76, definitely one of their best received songs of the evening! The already enthusiastic crowd roared with even greater applause of approval in its recognition and appreciation of McCartney's "James Bond" achievement, as the band launched into an epic stage production of this high-impact theme -- which utilized pyrotechnics, lasers, and a brass horn section, as well as a giant background screen of original video from the film interspersed with avant-garde action shots. IMHO, this is one of the absolute finest movie opening themes ever (kudos to zanne above for correctly indicating the artistic depth of the original soundtrack), and the Wing's showmanship succeeded in actually magnifying its intensity to an electrified and thunderstruck live audience. This performance was totally breathtaking, and one of the most amazing live songs I have ever had the good fortune to witness! I just wanted to share this tidbit, as the article above overlooks the fact that McCartney performed this in 1976; well before 1989 (kudos also to Ken above, who was the first here to note it was performed by Wings)... I could not help but expound upon the considerable effort and outstanding display the Wing's show delivered in its support of this stellar piece.
- MarkShark, Denver, CO
I think this version of "Live & Let Die" is more original than Guns 'N' Roses' version.
- JJ, Washington, DC
Alan in Michigan! Way to get NickC in Indiana with his hypocritical grammar policing. "horribly gramatically" grates on me much worse than "the world in which we live in".

He obviously believes everything that English professors tell him and like English professors knows nothing about linguistics.
- Johnny, Pomona, CA
You people kill me. Versions of songs are not "better" or "superior". They are just different and it's peoples' personal preferences which one they like. It's like arguing red is a better colour than blue.
- Phil, Edmonton, AB
GNR hasn't even touched the popularity and success Paul has had. How can you even compare them. You people may like GNR way more but in no possible way are they better.
- Tyler, Lakewood, CA
Paul recently said that he still gets nervous and scared before performing this on stage, because of the pyrotechnics involved. He worries that there could be an accident and someone could get hurt, even though no one has in 36 years.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
The story according to George Martin: The usual Bond musical director, John Barry, had a conflict and the prodicers didn't want to wait. So they asked Martin, who had done film soundtracks in addition to producing pop artists. Martin produced Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger" (while Barry did the rest of the soundtrack). Martin then asked Paul if he wanted to write and perform the theme song, since Paul had told him in the past that he'd like to do a "Bond song" someday. The movie producers liked the song, but not Paul's demo - they wanted Shirley Bassey again! Martin told them that unless Paul performed it, Paul wouldn't let them use it. This was the first time a writer of a Bond theme song actually performed it.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
"But in this ever-changin' world in which we live in"... is the lyric line and is actually very 'proper' english, something Sir Paul has understood and utilized throughout his whole career.
so Nick from Ft.Wane,IN...there's only a need to cringe at your own blunderous misunderstanding. sorry.
- Daevid, Glendale, CA
I went to Paul's concert at the Schottein Center during his 2002 Back in the U.S.tour, and every aspect of th show stands out in some way. However, I can remember the instrumental course of this song 7 yrs. after I saw him perform it live.
- Shane, Columbus, OH
Who gives a crap about one tiny little grammar mistake! if you do care about that then you are so sad i almost want to cry. paul wrote the song and its his song, and its the best. no one else can compare to it. and paul is a hard rocker he can do anything
- Catherine, Essex, United Kingdom
Paul is the most talented and amazing man that I can think of outside the wizardry of Todd Rundgren. Everytime I hear "Live and Let Die" it blows me away. I am a Classic Rock DJ, so we play both Paul's version as well as GnR's. I admire Axl for his arrangement and personal touch as far as vocals go...it pretty much ROCKS, especially when "the amp goes to 11"...but Paul McCartney, along with the Full Orchestra, and all of it's Magnitude makes me wish I was there in the making of the Piece for the Soundtrack. If you actually take the time to listen to every detail of the arrangement (through a good pair of headphones) it will take you away to another place in time. A place of majesty and perfection; a true UTOPIA, no doubt. This piece is a true gift to the music world! Thanks, Paul! Kelly T on the Z
- zanne, Long Beach, MS
GNR is way better than paul McCartney
Also what is the mean for this song?
- Hunter, South West, MI
Folks , first you must understand the agenda for the New World Order. Eliminate 90% of the worlds population. This is their great Dream. Watch ENDGAME
blueprint for global enslavement. Sir Paul McCartney
was privy to this opertion from the Bilderberg group.
read the lyrics again and understand that this song we all love so much is about mass Genocide.
www.infowars.com
Down with the NWO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11
- Horus, 5th demention, Zimbabwe
Whoever says that GNR sucks needs to have a serious talk with me bc they blow Paul McCartney's freaking head. I have a problem with people who say that GNR suck. I will kick your butt if you have a problem with this
- Matt, Somewhere, TN
Guns N' Roses' version is good, but the original is definitely superior.
- Scott, Boston, MA
I like the Guns N' Roses version a lot better, It's definitely a fav of mine!
- Alyssa, Pemberville, OH
I love this song, but every time I hear it or play it when I drive my Ferrari Red 1994 Alfa Romeo 164 Quadrifoglio, I see at least one policeman. I don't know why, but when I am in the Alfa and this song (no matter who sings it), I see cops. It never happens in my Dodge Magnum or in my girlfriend's Volvo.
- Darrell, Eugene
Kelly from Burbank - I read that the reason Paul declined Wierd Al's parody (Chicken Pot Pie) was due to the fact that Paul is a strict vegetarian and also an animal rights activist. He did not feel it was right to promote eating animal flesh.
- Schells, Raleigh, NC
Woooh! This is my favorite music of Paul McCArtney.
I realy liked this because it gave me a lesson.
I like the part that "Boom, Boom" after he said LIVE AND LET Die. I like the part when he says "which we live in"
- Chelsey, London, England
I thought this song won an Oscar for McCartney.
- Adam, Poplar Bluff, MO
I like the Guns and Roses version better. Paul is a great pop artist but he's not a hard rocker.
- Mike, Hueytown , AL
spector produced let it be, george martin ,Abbey Road ,as Zak said... and GnR are the worst band ever
- Jenny, Hereford, England
Paul loves popcorn. That extra "in" is actually a kernel popping in the background.
- Basil, Skylark Sound City, MT
I HATE the GNR version. I hate their version of Knockin' on Heaven's Door and i hate their version of Live and Let Die. Axl has the WORST singing voice in history. Exerpt from GNR's Live and Let Die: Buut if this eeeeaaaver cheeaaaanging woourrld in which we live in, makes you giiiive in and creeayyyyy, said live and let dieeeeeeyaaaeiih...it sucks horribly.
- Brandon, Peoria, IL
The best Bond title-song this is. Not sure what I think of the Roses version, but I love McCartneys and the Wings original.
- Olle, Stockholm, Sweden
this is my favorite song in the whole world but i only love it cuz guns n roses redid it
- tara, lisle, IL
I like the Guns 'n Roses version, but Pauls is best.
- Jon, Oakridge, OR
I don't want to offend anybody, and I love this song like I love my mother. But I HATE Guns n Roses' version. Every time its on the radio I change it. One of the worst covers I have ever heard.
- Julian, Anaheim, CA
I went to Paul's concert in Dallas in 2005, and Live and Let Die was absolutly amazing...there was fire shooting up all over the stage, and spot lights going crazy...best show i've ever seen. Sir Paul Mccartney has only gotten better over the years.
- Matt, Dallas, TX
Hmm, I heard when he was suppose to write the sing, and he turned it in, completely done and the guy said, "It's a good demo, but where's the actual song."

Or something of that sort implying it wasn't really good enough to be the complete (don't know what other word to use).
- joey, Nowhere Land, CA
I absolutely love it when Paul & the guys play this song at concerts..the light show is absolutely amazing!
- joey, Nowhere Land, CA
Hahaha! Thanks for that clip, Ariana! What year was that movie made, anyway? Wasn't that at the time that everyone looked down upon rock n' roll and considered it not "high-class?". I think that's probably why James Bond put down The Beatles, Bond being the "classiest" of them all. And you're right, I'm sure if Paul had known they made fun of him in one of the previous James Bonds he wouldn't have done the score. Let's just hope that Paul never sees that movie! On another note, a hilarious singer/songwriter, Weird Al, asked Paul if he could do a parody of "Live and Let Die" but call it "Chicken Pot Pie". Being very protective of his music (I don't blame him, what with Wacko freakin' Jacko owning the rights to all his songs. That makes me so mad!), Paul said no. I can just imagine what it could have been like, though...anyway this song is fabulous and my favorite lyric is this: "What does it matter to ya? When you gotta job to do, You gotta do it well, You gotta give the other fellow hell!" I always make sure I scream it. Another great post-Beatles job, Paul.
- Kelly, Burbank, CA
I think he MEANT to sing it like that, and I don't see a problem? Besides, whi cares? This song is awesome! All so great, it's the Paul McCartney version of suite judy blue eyes, which is another awesome song
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
Nick, I also agree. That is a horrendous mistake. Colloquialisms such as "ain't seen nothin' yet", are obviously intentional. However, here, where the error in question is seemingly an accident, it's inexcusable. And it's only furthered by the fact that McCartney wrote this as a job, not just for his own revenue. It was a professional deal. I just hope he's figured it out by now and isn't still singing it wrong when he's live...
- John, Millersville, MD
Yeah, I know it sounds awful if you look at it like that but, why do you care about the grammar? there's so much more to look for in the lyrics than that!..And, I agree with Jackson, hiope it's "the world in which were livin'", coz that's what I sing..hehe.. I don't know if you noticed, but, in the movie "Gold-finger", James Bond says something awful about The Beatles music, and still Sir Paul writes a song for next movies.. I think you deserve to know that if you like Bond and love Beatles -> http://www.jamesbondmm.co.uk/film-clips/goldfinger-sounds.php
bye!
- ariana, lima, Peru
btw George Martin produced Abbey Road, Spector produced Let It Be
- John, Boston, MA
Why do you care about his grammar? I mean, come on, are you going to criticze John Fogerty, he uses awful English in his lyrics....COME ON! The music to this song is amazing, why are you so caught up on "The World in which we live in"?
- John, Boston, MA
Even though this song has complex orchestration, McCartney perfomed this in concert with Wings and as a solo. He hides the fact that the arraingment is much different (by necessity) in concert by staging a laser and/or fireworks show during the most dramatic part of the song.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
J-Raff, I'm pretty sure George Martin produced Abbey Road.
- Zak, Austin, TX
He also played Get Back at 2005 Superbowl.
- Andre, Tampa, FL
"Let It Be" was technically not the Beatles' last album. It was recorded before "Abbey Road", but released after. Just thought I'd clarify. Can't remember who produced "Abbey Road" though...
- J-Raff, Boston, MA
Linda supposedly came up with the little reggae bit in the middle.
- Rich, Birmingham UK, England
There is nothing wrong with not being gramatically perfect !
- BONES, New Plymouth, New Zealand
Paul played this at the 2005 superbowl. He also played Hey Jude and Drive my Car.
- Kristen, Aurora, IL
Nick-don't you mean "horrible gramatically"? Or "horribly ungrammatical?" Because "horribly gramatically" is worse than "the world in which we live in" horrible grammar-wise.
Paul did this at Super Bowl 2005 also.
- Alan, City, MI
i'm with you, nick. i really hope he's saying "the world in which we're livin'"
- jackson, waycross, GA
Every copy of the lyrics I've ever seen has, "the world in which we live in," which is horribly gramatically (the redudant use of the preposition, "in"). In chance he's actually saying, "the world in which we're livin'"? Axl Rose obviously sand the former lyric, but I just cringe at Sir Paul blundering so badly with the English language.
- NickC, Ft. Wayne, IN
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