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 chronology
"My Love"
"Live and Let Die"
"Helen Wheels"
James Bond theme chronology
"Diamonds Are Forever"
"Live and Let Die"
"The Man With the Golden Gun"

"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 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.[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".

Wings recorded "Live and Let Die" during the sessions for the Red Rose Speedway album,[1] in October 1972.[7] The song was taped at A.I.R. Studios, with Ray Cooper providing percussion instruments.[8]

Release and aftermath[edit]

The single reached No. 2 in the United States and No. 9 in the United Kingdom.[9][10] The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[11][12] 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.)


Comments have been made over the years[by whom?] 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[attribution needed] 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".[13]

Following the attacks on 11 September 2001, the song was placed on Clear Channel's list of inappropriate song titles.[14]


Chart positions[edit]


In 1984, McCartney asked "Weird Al" Yankovic when he was going to parody one of his songs.[24] 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;[25] however, he has performed the song live.[citation needed]

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
Length 3:04
Label Geffen
Guns N' Roses singles chronology
"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.[26] The song was nominated for "Best Hard Rock Performance" during the 1993 Grammy Awards.[27]


Guns N' Roses
Additional musicians
  • Shannon Hoon – backing vocals
  • Johann Langlie – synthesizer
  • Jon Thautwein – horn
  • Matthew McKagan – horn
  • Rachel West – horn
  • Robert Clark – horn
Track listing
  1. "Live and Let Die" – 2:59
  2. "Live and Let Die" (Live) – 3:37
  3. "Shadow of Your Love" (Live) – 2:50

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. ^ "The McCartney Recording Sessions - 1972". Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Luca Perasi, Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013), L.I.L.Y. Publishing, 2013, ISBN 978-88-909122-1-4, p.89.
  9. ^ "Paul McCartney singles". allmusic. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  10. ^ "Official Charts: Paul McCartney". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 13 October 2011. 
  11. ^ Paul Grein (3 January 2013). "Chart Watch Extra: Top Songs of 2012". Chart Watch. Yahoo Music. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  12. ^ "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - June 06, 2014". RIAA. Retrieved 2014-06-06. [permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "Live and Let Live: Sir Paul McCartney". Washington Post. 30 July 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "It's the End of the World as Clear Channel Knows It". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  15. ^ "Canadian Chart". Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  16. ^ "". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "Japanese Chart". Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  18. ^ " Paul McCartney discography". Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 2 August 2011. 
  19. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Retrieved 2016-09-07. 
  20. ^ "Norwegian Chart". Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  21. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (2015). The Comparison Book. Menonomee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 333. ISBN 978-0-89820-213-7. 
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ "Top Pop Singles" Billboard December 29, 1973: TA-28
  24. ^ Weird Al Yankovic Interviews on Yahoo! Music Archived 7 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  25. ^ Dan Epstein. ""Weird Al" Yankovic : The Icon Profile". Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  26. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Guns N' Roses | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  27. ^ "35th Grammy Awards - 1993". Retrieved 15 February 2013. 

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