Who sang the song Big Gun in 1993

LIVE AND LET DIE is the title song of the eighth James Bond film of the same name from 1973 (German translation: Live and let die). The song developed into one of Paul McCartney's first real hits after the Beatles broke up.

I. History of origin

The film came out in June 1973 Live and Let Die in US cinemas. Its theme song was written by Paul and Linda McCartney. George Martin, a former Beatles producer, took over the production. The song was recorded while working on the second Wings album Red Rose Speedway. Originally, the responsible film producer thought that Paul McCartney would only contribute the composition and then - according to the subject of the film (see below) - have it interpreted by an Afro-American band. But Paul McCartney only agreed to the contract on the condition that his new band Wings would perform the song and that it would be mentioned in the opening credits - which ultimately happened. However, the official language regulation turned out to be inconsistent and from today's perspective may be seen as a sign of the indecision that Paul McCartney associated with his role as ex-Beatle. While the opening credits and soundtrack name “Paul McCartney & Wings” as the interpreters, the single released is known as “Wings” for short.

II. Context

Although the song was published as a single and thus existed in the public perception as a stand-alone media product, its significance as a pop culture artefact can only be adequately measured by reference to its functionality as the Bond theme song. This functionality is inscribed in the song not least through its title (which corresponds to the English-language original film title). At the same time, the functional integration requires an exposed position in the overall dramaturgical structure of the film. The song functions as a prologue that introduces the cinematic narrative world primarily atmospherically, i.e. in a sound-associative manner and with the help of linguistic images. Its atmospheric effect is supported by the imagery of the opening credits that has congealed over decades into an independent aesthetic concept. In the present case, this means the montage of various fades of naked, attractive young women (some with body painting and in a dancing pose) with close-ups of blazing torches and a fiberglass lamp. The plot revolves around the character of Dr. Kananga aka Mr. Big, drug lord and dictator of a Caribbean island, who has heroin produced on an industrial scale in order to secure a monopoly on the North American drug market. James Bond (played for the first time by Roger Moore) tries to put an end to this hustle and bustle, which is finally achieved with the help of Solitaire, the former assistant to the villainous Dr. Kananga, succeed. But before that, Bond has to go through a multitude of dangerous situations (including escaping from a crocodile farm and a fast boat hunt). For Paul McCartney, the cooperation with the Bond producers turned out to be an important step in terms of his artistic emancipation from the Beatles. The song became one of the most commercially successful single releases of his follow-up project with the Wings.

III. analysis

The song has a duration of 3:12 minutes. You can hear the voices and instruments represented in Paul McCartney's band (main and secondary vocals, guitar (s), keyboard / piano, bass and drums) as well as an orchestra. Paul McCartney contributes the lead vocals. The course of the song is determined by the tonal and stylistic contrast between the individual parts. The spectrum ranges from the intimate line-up of vocals and piano to the 'classic' rock band to the simultaneous use of band and orchestra. A total of nine sections can be distinguished, specifically in the sequence A B C D E C A ’B C. It turns out that the song is based on five different parts, consequently the verse-chorus principle typical of pop songs is broken. As a result, new musical material will be introduced up to minute 2:04. Section A is based on the two-measure chord progression G Hm7 | Cmaj7 D7 Qb9, which is repeated twice. This is followed by a single measure in Dm, which leads to the following section. The expressive character is overall ballad-like. The decisive factors for this are the almost lyrical melody in the vocals, the slow tempo of approx. 62 bpm and the intimate line-up of vocals and piano. This contemplative world of sound is suddenly broken up by the tutti beats of the orchestra and band at the beginning of the B section. The tempo is slightly increased to 70 bpm, the chord progression G C / G | develops on the lying tone G G0 G7 (2x). Every second tutti beat is brought forward by a syncope, which counteracts the regularity of the half-measure harmonic rhythm in section A. The classic backbeat structure in rock songs is indicated by the beats of the snare drum on beats 2 and 4. Overall, this section seems like a fanfare, but due to the diminished triad and its 'dissolution' into a major seventh chord, sufficient harmonic tensions are built up so that the grandiosity of this passage appears less ceremonial than threatening and martial. This effect is supported by the hook line “Live and let die” performed in the main and secondary vocals. A shortened measure (3/8) serves as a transition to section C. There is now a double-time beat in which the tempo (150 bpm) is increased again (with a 'pure' doubling, the tempo would have been 140 bpm). As in the previous section, the drone determines the sound on the root G. Above this, a melody line played in unison by electric guitar, strings and marimba unfolds, which is organized in three or two-tone short motifs. The melody line begins with the ascending tone sequences g, a, b and d, e, f, which, due to their interval structure, can be interpreted as a citing allusion to the electric guitar motif of the Bond theme by John Barry. Short ascending flute figurations and fundamental drones of the trombones sound between the short motifs. Overall, this leads to the fact that the song, which was ballad-like, then solemn-looking a few seconds earlier, has now merged into a wildly pulsating 'Wall of Sound'. In section D the tempo and rhythmic order remain. At first there is no melodic contour whatsoever, which means that the song temporarily resembles a dull hustle and bustle. After four bars, the flutes and the marimba begin with another melodic figure. Their tonal basis is a whole tone cluster consisting of the tones e, f sharp, g sharp and a sharp. The notes are played in staggered thirds (and syncopated rhythm) downwards. At the end of the section, the brass section also begins. The melody changes its dissonant-repetitive character in the direction of a diatonic towering lead to the next section. The moment of piling up does not lead to a furious finale, as would be expected, but ends abruptly in the band's game. On the chord progression C | G | D7 | Em F5 | a typical reggae groove develops based on eighth-note offbeats at a moderate tempo (approx. 80 bpm). As a transition to the next section, an F-sound adjusted for the third is used. In it come together the top note c ”screamed out by Paul McCartney and the abruptly starting orchestral apparatus. As mentioned above, the following sections are a repetition of sections C, A, B and C. The song ends in a fading Esm chord.

In lyrical terms, the singer's intellectual argument with another, not further explicated person (“You”) dominates. Both a narrative perspective (“When you were young and your heart was an open book”) and an informally addressing perspective (“What does it matter to ya”) are adopted. In this constellation, the singer (or the song persona embodied by him) takes on the role of the advisor. The other person should then replace the conciliatory motto “Live and let live” with the much more relentless and aggressive “Live and let die” (“Say live and let die”).

IV. Reception

LIVE AND LET DIE developed into a veritable hit single on both sides of the Atlantic. In the USA the song rose to position 2 in the charts, in Great Britain up to position 9. Thus it turned out to be an important step for McCartney in terms of artistic emancipation from the Beatles. Only a short time later, McCartney and his band Wings were able to achieve this success with the album Band on the run(1973) affirm. The album, the extracted songs “Jet” and “Band on the Run” as well as the Bond title song in question mark today, alongside the hit single “Mull of Kintyre” from 1977, the most successful commercial and artistic period together Work of the ex-Beatle with his band project. The reception of LIVE AND LET DIE within pop culture is also determined by an abundance of cover versions. The most prominent performers include Hank Marvin (formerly The Shadows), Geri Halliwell (formerly Spice Girls) and the hard rockers from Guns N ’Roses. The latter band coupled the song as the second single on their album Use Your Illusion I. (1991) from. The release proved to be a commercial success (Top 20 and Top 10 in the US and UK respectively) and is currently the most popular cover version of this Bond song.




Vocals, bass: Paul McCartney
Vocals, keyboard: Linda McCartney
Supporting vocals, guitar: Denny Lane
Guitar: Henry McCullogh
Drums: Denny Seiwell
Authors: Paul and Linda McCartney
Producer: George Martin
Label: Apple
Playing time: 3:12


  • Wings. “Live and Let Die”,Live and Let Die, 1973, Apple Records, R 5987, UK (vinyl / single).
  • Wings. “Live and Let Die”,Live and Let Die, 1973, Apple Records, 1863, USA (vinyl / single).
  • Wings. Red Rose Speedway, 1973, Apple Records, SMAL-3409, US (vinyl / LP / album).
  • Wings. Band on the run, 1973, Apple Records, SO-3415, US (vinyl / LP / album).


  • Guns N ’Roses. “Live and Let Die”,Live and Let Die, Geffen records, GED 21692, Europe (CD / single).
  • Hank Marvin. “Live and Let Die”,Heartbeat, 1993, PolyGram TV, 521 232-2, UK (CD / album).
  • Geri Halliwell. “Live and Let Die”,Lift me up, 1999, EMI, 7243 8 87 945 0 3, UK (CD / single).


  • Burling name, John: The Music of James Bond. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2012.
  • Cherry, John: Paul McCartney’s Solo Music Career 1970-2010. Life, Love, and a Sense of Child-like Wonder: An In-Depth Examination of the Best (and Worst) Songs from the World's Most Successful Singer / Songwriter. Sarasota: The Peppertree Press 2010.
  • Duncan, Paul: The James Bond Archives. Cologne: Taschen 2012.


  • www.paulmccartney.com/albums/songs/ [01/07/2013]

About the author

PD Dr. Christofer Jost is research associate at the Center for Popular Culture and Music, University of Freiburg, and teaches media studies at the University of Basel.
All contributions by Christofer Jost


Christofer Jost: “Live and Let Die (Paul McCartney & Wings). In: Song dictionary. Encyclopedia of Songs. Ed. by Michael Fischer, Fernand Hörner and Christofer Jost, http://www.songlexikon.de/songs/liveandletdie, 08/2013 [revised 03/2014].