Live and Let Die (song)

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"Live and Let Die"
Live and Let Die by Wings UK vinyl solid centre.jpg
A-side label of the UK 7-inch single
Single by Paul McCartney and Wings
from the album Live and Let Die
B-side "I Lie Around"
  • 1 June 1973 (UK)
  • 18 June 1973 (US)
Format 7" single
Recorded October 1972
Genre Symphonic rock[1]
Length 3:12
Label Apple
Producer(s) George Martin
Wings singles chronology
"My Love"
"Live and Let Die"
"Helen Wheels"
"My Love"
"Live and Let Die"
"Helen Wheels"
James Bond theme singles chronology
"Diamonds Are Forever"
(1971) Diamonds Are Forever1971
"Live and Let Die"
(1973) Live and Let Die1973
"The Man With the Golden Gun"
(1975) The Man With the Golden Gun1975

"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 McCartney'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.[2][3]

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 the Guns N' Roses version being the most popular cover. Both the McCartney and the 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.[4]

Background and recording[edit]

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."[5]

Originally, producer Harry Saltzman was interested in having Shirley Bassey or Thelma Houston perform it instead of Wings.[1] 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.[6] 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". It was also released by RCA Records as a single in late June 1973.[7]

Wings recorded "Live and Let Die" during the sessions for the Red Rose Speedway album,[1] in October 1972.[8] The song was taped at A.I.R. Studios, with Ray Cooper providing percussion instruments.[9]

Release and aftermath[edit]

The song "Live and Let Die" was released as part of the 1973 television special James Paul McCartney, which aired on 16 April in the United States and 10 May in the United Kingdom. In the segment, McCartney and Wings were shown performing the song in his studio while clips of the eponymous film were used before the film's US theatrical release on 27 June.[10]

The single reached No. 2 in the US and No. 9 in the UK.[11][12] The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[13][14] 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'.

Sales of the single release and of the sheet music were "solid."[15] The sheet music, initially released in the same year, used the line "in this ever-changing world in which we live in" as part of the opening verse of the song. In the Washington Post interview more than 30 years later, McCartney told the interviewer, "I don't think about the lyric when I sing it. I think it's 'in which we're living', or it could be 'in which we live in', and that's kind of, sort of, wronger but cuter," before deciding that it was "in which we're living."[10]

"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.

United Artists promoted the song in trade advertisements that billed McCartney and Wings and used "the mystical tarot-card theme of the film", though producer Broccoli opposed the marketing tactic as unnecessary.[16] The song became 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). In the Academy Award performance of the song, entertainer Connie Stevens dressed in a "silver-lamé outfit" with a Native American-looking headdress "descended from the ceiling" and then was "variously lifted and tossed about" by dancers dressed in various colours until she left the scene. The song lost to the eponymous theme song from the musical film The Way We Were.[17]

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.)

Following the 9/11 attacks, the song was placed on Clear Channel's list of inappropriate song titles.[18]

The song was included in the movie Shrek The Third (2007) and on its soundtrack.[19]




In 1984, McCartney asked "Weird Al" Yankovic when he was going to parody one of his songs.[30] 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 did not want to promote the consumption of meat. Yankovic, a vegetarian himself, said he respected the decision;[31] however, he has performed the song live.[32]

Guns N' Roses version[edit]

"Live and Let Die"
Live and Let Die by Guns N' Roses US cassette.jpg
U.S. commercial cassette single
Single by Guns N' Roses
from the album Use Your Illusion I
A-side "Live and Let Die" (LP Version)
  • "Live and Let Die" (Live at Wembley Stadium, London on 31 August 1991 )
  • "Shadow of Your Love" (Live)
Released 3 December 1991
  • CD
  • 7"
  • 12"
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal
Length 3:04
Label Geffen
Guns N' Roses singles chronology
"Don't Cry"
"Live and Let Die"
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
"Don't Cry"
"Live and Let Die"
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"

"Live and Let Die" was released as the second single from Use Your Illusion I album and the fourth out of all the Use Your Illusion singles. A music video was made in November 1991 featuring the band playing live on stage and showing old pictures. The video also was made shortly before Izzy Stradlin's departure, and it is the last video where he appears. It charted at No. 20 on the Mainstream Rock chart.[33] The song was nominated for "Best Hard Rock Performance" during the 1993 Grammy Awards.[34]


Weekly charts
Chart (1991) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[35] 10
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[36] 27
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[37] 20
Finland (The Official Finnish Charts)[38] 1
France (SNEP)[39] 39
Germany (Official German Charts)[40] 33
Ireland (IRMA)[41] 5
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[42] 13
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[43] 1
Norway (VG-lista)[44] 3
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[45] 15
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[46] 19
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[47] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[48] 33
Year-end charts
Chart (1992) Position
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[49] 27

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Live and Let Die" – 2:59
  2. "Live and Let Die" (Live) – 3:37
  3. "Shadow of Your Love" (Live) – 2:50


Guns N' Roses

Additional musicians

  • Shannon Hoon – backing vocals
  • Johann Langlie – programming
  • Jon Thautwein – horn
  • Matthew McKagan – horn
  • Rachel West – horn
  • Robert Clark – horn

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Benitez, Vincent P. (2010). The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-313-34969-0. 
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums. London: Guinness World Records Limited
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2006). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Billboard Books
  4. ^ "Live and Let Die Recognized for over 4 Million Performances in the USA". Broadcast Music, Inc. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Barnes, Alan; Hearn, Marcu (1997). Kiss Kiss Bang! Bang!: the Unofficial James Bond Film Companion. Batsford Books. pp. 110–11. ISBN 978-0-7134-8182-2. 
  6. ^ Lindner, Christoph (2003). The James Bond Phenomenon: a Critical Reader. Manchester University Press. pp. 130, 134. ISBN 978-0-7190-6541-5. 
  7. ^ Burlingame 2012, p. 111 [1]
  8. ^ "The McCartney Recording Sessions - 1972". Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  9. ^ Luca Perasi, Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013), L.I.L.Y. Publishing, 2013, ISBN 978-88-909122-1-4, p.89.
  10. ^ a b Burlingame 2012, p. 112 [2]
  11. ^ "Paul McCartney singles". allmusic. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  12. ^ "Official Charts: Paul McCartney". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 13 October 2011. 
  13. ^ Paul Grein (3 January 2013). "Chart Watch Extra: Top Songs of 2012". Chart Watch. Yahoo Music. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - June 06, 2014". RIAA. Retrieved 2014-06-06. [permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Smith, Jeff (1998). "The Midas Touch". The Sounds of Commerce: Marketing Popular Film Music. Columbia University Press. p. 115. ISBN 0-231-10862-1. LCCN 98-17923. Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  16. ^ Burlingame 2012, pp. 113–114 [3]
  17. ^ Burlingame 2012, p. 114 [4]
  18. ^ "It's the End of the World as Clear Channel Knows It". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Canadian Chart". Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  21. ^ "". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  22. ^ "Japanese Chart". Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  23. ^ " Paul McCartney discography". Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 2 August 2011. 
  24. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Retrieved 2016-09-07. 
  25. ^ "Norwegian Chart". Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  26. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (2015). The Comparison Book. Menonomee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 333. ISBN 978-0-89820-213-7. 
  27. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 157. 
  28. ^ [5]
  29. ^ "Top Pop Singles" Billboard December 29, 1973: TA-28
  30. ^ Weird Al Yankovic Interviews on Yahoo! Music Archived 7 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  31. ^ Dan Epstein. ""Weird Al" Yankovic : The Icon Profile". Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  32. ^ Andy Greene. "Flashback: Weird Al's Rejected Wings Parody, 'Chicken Pot Pie'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-09-28. 
  33. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Guns N' Roses | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  34. ^ "35th Grammy Awards - 1993". Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  35. ^ " – Guns N' Roses – Live and Let Die". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  36. ^ " – Guns N' Roses – Live and Let Die" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  37. ^ " – Guns N' Roses – Live and Let Die" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  38. ^ Pennanen, Timo. Sisältää hitin: levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972. Otava Publishing Company Ltd, 2003. ISBN 951-1-21053-X
  39. ^ " – Guns N' Roses – Live and Let Die" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  40. ^ " – Guns N' Roses – Live and Let Die". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  41. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Guns N' Roses". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  42. ^ " – Guns N' Roses – Live and Let Die" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  43. ^ " – Guns N' Roses – Live and Let Die". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  44. ^ " – Guns N' Roses – Live and Let Die". VG-lista. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  45. ^ " – Guns N' Roses – Live and Let Die". Singles Top 100. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  46. ^ " – Guns N' Roses – Live and Let Die". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  47. ^ "Guns N' Roses: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  48. ^ "Guns N' Roses Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  49. ^ "End of Year Charts 1992". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 3, 2017. 


Preceded by
Shirley Bassey
Diamonds Are Forever, 1971
James Bond title artist
Live and Let Die (song), 1973
Succeeded by
The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974