From an Unlucky Nose to a Spy Masterpiece

“The name’s Bond. James Bond.” We’ve all heard this famous movie quote at least once in our lives. It’s a classic, after all. Everyone knows James Bond. He’s quite literally The Spy. When someone brings up spies, your mind almost always goes to either Daniel Craig or Pierce Brosnan. I for one always think of the most action-packed Bond films when spies are brought up. Well, either that or Spy Kids. And Spy Kids wasn’t really that good… Now, along with the childhood dream of wanting to become a special agent just like Bond himself, there’s one thing about the Bond movies that’s hard to forget: the music. Oh, the incredible composition of the James Bond Theme is a musical masterpiece! But, just recently, I found out that this most iconic piece of “Spy music”, was quite literally recycled by the composer. That’s right, Monty Norman, the writer of the James Bond Theme, just took one of his old songs and had John Barry remake it into what we now know as the great James Bond Theme. 

The song that he used to create the James Bond Theme is called “Good Sign, Bad Sign” and was originally intended for a musical based on VS Naipaul’s award-winning novel, A House For Mr. Biswas. This song, at first, sounds absolutely nothing like the James Bond Theme. But upon closer inspection, the sitar that plays the chorus is exactly the same as in the iconic spies theme song! “Good Sign, Bad Sign” imitates the style of Indian Classical music and uses both a Tabla, a set of twin drums that originate from the Indian subcontinent and are used in many Indian classical pieces, and a sitar, a plucked string instrument that also originates from the Indian subcontinent and is used in most Indian Classical music.  

As it says in the title, “Good Sign, Bad Sign” is about a man’s unlucky nose. Yes you read that right, the lyrics include: “I was born with this unlucky sneeze / And what is worse I came into the world the wrong way round / Pundits all agree that I am the reason why my father fell into the village pond and drowned.” This is clearly a very stark contrast to the cool, action movie, suspenseful vibe you get when listening to the James Bond theme. Many will argue that it was actually John “Goldfinger” Barry who wrote out the James Bond theme and composed it, but Monty Norman has successfully defended his copyright multiple times. Norman 100% wrote the song, just not in the style that you usually hear it in. He used the music to create the music.

Related:  The Many Shades of Music

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SPARSH AIYAR
Editor at The City Voice | MIPA Honorable Mention Award Winner

Hello, my name is Sparsh and I do the music column! I cover anything music related (usually early 2000's punk and rock) and anime! I love writing and hopefully, you enjoy my products!