Goldfinger

Album: Goldfinger Soundtrack (1964)
Charted: 21 8
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Songfacts®:

  • This song was the theme for the James Bond movie Goldfinger. Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse wrote the lyrics and John Barry the music. It was Shirley Bassey's biggest hit.
  • On Shirley Bassey's website, she says about Goldfinger: "John Barry wrote the music. We were touring in England at the time and he was conducting for me. One day he said, 'There is this new song for the James Bond film Goldfinger and we'd like you to do it. I know your rule that you will never listen to a song unless there are words. There are no words, I must warn you - there's only the music, which I have done. And we're waiting on the lyric.' And because we had such a wonderful relationship on our tour I said to John, 'Well, I'll listen to it. I'll break my rule.' And thank God I did, because the moment he played the music to me, I got goose pimples, and I told him, 'I don't care what the words are. I'll do it.' And fortunately the words were great."
  • Barry didn't have a lot of direction when he got the assignment to write this song, but he knew it had to be about a villain, which was very unusual subject matter for a song. He took inspiration from the classic song Mack The Knife, which he considered the ultimate villain tribute, and came up with the music to introduce Bond's nemesis. The melody was written to accommodate the word "Goldfinger."
  • John Barry worked long into the night on the music. According to an article in the London Times, the next morning over breakfast, he played the opening three notes to his flatmate at the time, Michael Caine. The actor said bluntly, "It's 'Moon River.'" Barry swiftly added the three-note brass line to disguise the similarity.
  • Bond producer Harry Saltzman hated this and he took a lot of convincing to use this as the film tune. John Barry explained in his interview with NPR that Saltzman called it "the worst song he'd ever heard in his life," but because there was no time to change it, he had to live with it.
  • When John Barry wrote his songs for the Bond movies, he wrote them with the intention of using the music from that song as the basis for the score of the movie, so you would hear the song at the beginning of the film, then hear music based on that song in key points throughout the film, like in the Fort Knox scene from Goldfinger.
  • John Barry said that his goal for the Bond themes was to make them larger-than-life and lots of fun. Said Barry: "Everyone knew Bond would get the broad, kill the villain and be happy, and we enjoyed it on that level. This was not Citizen Kane. You could do anything really silly, and that was the fun of it. I left when it started to be formula and the fun went out of it." The last Bond movie Barry scored was The Living Daylights in 1987.
  • Vic Flick, who was one of the top session musicians in England in the 1960s, played guitar on this track. He told the Daily Mail that Shirley Bassey originally struggled with this song: "Barry wanted this long note held," he recalled. "He said to do it again, and she said she couldn't. But then there was a rustling noise - and suddenly this bra comes over the top of the vocal booth. And then Shirley really let it go."
  • At age 76, Shirley Bassey performed the song during the 2013 Academy Awards as part of a tribute to the James Bond franchise's 50th anniversary on the big-screen.
  • Retro-soul outfit Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings recorded a remake of the song for the soundtrack of Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street movie.
  • Dame Shirley Bassey re-recorded the song for her 2014 album Hello Like Before, recreating the original orchestration. The Cardiff-born singer admitted there are two wrong notes in the original version and was glad to have the opportunity to re-record the tune. "For me they always sounded wrong and I could never get it right in my head," she told BBC Radio Wales presenter Wynne Evans: "My musical directors through the years said there was nothing wrong with it. It was probably me. But now with my voice we've lowered the song, and I can't hear those wrong notes any more - and it sounds so right, I'm so glad we got to do it again."

Comments: 11

  • Paul From Cleethorpes from Lewes, United KingdomDanny from Streator is confusing Shirley Bassey with Jimmy's experience with Tom Jones on Thunderball.
  • Danny from Streator Il.I just read an article on my news feed just now where the infamous Jimmy Page said he was a session musician who played guitar on this track. He claimed Ms. Bassey came in, sang the song in a single take and then proceeded to pass out (in true diva form), after singing the long note at the end of the song. So whether it was a foggy, faulty memory on his part or perhaps he was another guitarist at the session itself I'm not so sure of. It's a good story either way.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenGreat song, but it's hard to look at the actor who played Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) and envision a "web of sin" or any girl (golden or otherwise) actually wanting to kiss him.
  • Ed from Keene, New HampshireShirley Bassey has now re-recorded the song (which she insisted had "two wrong notes") as part of a December, 2014 album release entitled "Hello Like Before".
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 24th 1965, "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on March 21st, 1965 it peaked at #8 (for 2 weeks) and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #2 (for 4 weeks) on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    On March 7th, 1963 the song's composer, John Barry, entered the Top 100 with his own version, he peaked at #72...
    Two other covered versions also charted in 1965; Billy Strange (at #55) and pianist Jack LaForte (at #96)...
    And finally on March 14th, 1965 the 'Goldfinger' soundtrack album reached #1 (for 3 weeks) on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    Ms. Bassey celebrated her 77th birthday sixteen days ago on January 8th (2014).
  • Paul from Washington Dc, DcThe BEST Bond theme song ever if not the best movie title song ever, period. I've always loved John Barry's film scores, in particular the ones he composed for "Body Heat" and "Somewhere In Time".
  • Ken from Louisville, KyThis was produced by George Martin. Shirley was signed to a different EMI label other that Parlophone but was assigned to Martin, since he was England's hot producer at the time. She left Martin after making a few more records with him because she felt he was too involved with the Beatles and Cilla Black and not enough with her.
  • Larry from New York City, NyShirley is one of the best female voices in the business!!! Powerful, Sexy and great stage presence!
  • Farrah from Elon, NcShe is so awesome on this song. No one will ever compare to her.
  • Spencer from Los Angeles, CaNo, Chris Cornell (of Audioslave and Soungarden) is doing it.
  • Joshua from Twin Cities, MnBassey also sang the theme songs from Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker, and remains the only singer to record more than one James Bond theme. (This may change if Tina Turner does the theme from the upcoming Casino Royale, as has been speculated; Turner previously sang the Goldeneye theme song.)
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