"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's band Wings. It was one of their most successful singles, and the most successful Bond theme to that point, charting at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number nine on the UK Singles Chart.[3][4]

Commissioned specifically for the movie and credited to McCartney and his wife Linda, 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 forGrammys. In 2012, McCartney was awarded the Million-Air Award from Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), for over 4 million performances of the song in the US.[5]


 [hide*1 Background and recording

Background and recording[edit]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."[6]

Originally, producer Harry Saltzman was interested in having Shirley Bassey or Thelma Houston perform it instead of Wings.[1] Martin said that McCartney would only allow the song to be used in the movie if Wings were 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 was originally meant for the group Fifth Dimension.[7]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.[8] The song was taped at A.I.R. Studios, with Ray Cooper providing percussion instruments.[9]

Release and aftermath[edit]Edit

The single reached number 2 in the United States and number 9 in the United Kingdom.[10][11] The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[12][13] 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 Paul McCartney single on Apple Records that was credited only to "Wings".

"Live and Let Die" was not featured on a Paul McCartney album until the Wings Greatest compilation in 1978, and was included again on 1987's All the Best!. The entire soundtrack was also 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 fromThe 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 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 attacks on 11 September 2001, the song was placed on Clear Channel'list of inappropriate song titles.

"in which we live in" or "in which we're living"[edit]Edit

Many comments have been made over the years 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 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". [14]



In 1984, McCartney asked "Weird Al" Yankovic when he was going to parody one of his songs.[15] 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 didn't want to promote the eating of meat. Fellow vegetarian Yankovic said he respected the decision;[16] however, he has performed the song live.

Guns N' Roses version[edit]Edit

"Live and Let Die"
Single by Guns N' Roses
from the album Use Your Illusion I
A-side Live and Let Die (LP Version)
B-side Live and Let Die (Live atWembley Stadium, London on August 31 1991 ) - Shadow Of Your Love (Live)
Released December 1991
Format CD, 7", 12"
Genre Hard rock
Length 00:09:46
Label Geffen
Producer(s) Mike Clink, Guns N' Roses
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 was also made shortly before Izzy Stradlin's departure and it was the last video where he appears. It charted at 20 on the Mainstream Rock chart.[17] The song was nominated for "Best Hard Rock Performance" during the 1993 Grammy Awards.[18]


Guns N' Roses
Additional musicians
  • Shannon Hoon – backing vocals
  • Johann Langlie – synthesizer
  • Jon Thautwein – horn
  • Matthew McKagan – horn
  • Rachel West – horn
  • Robert Clark – horn
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.