“A Golden Girl Knows”

Adrian Daub and Charles Kronengold

in The James Bond Songs

Published in print October 2015 | ISBN: 9780190234522
Published online November 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780190234553 | DOI:
“A Golden Girl Knows”

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John Barry composed what would go on to become the most influential Bond-song of them all, “Goldfinger,” in 1963. “Goldfinger” was the first Bond-song to feature Shirley Bassey, and it put her singing voice at the center of the franchise. The song drew inspiration from an unlikely source: “Mack the Knife,” an anti-capitalist ballad composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertold Brecht. This unexpected strand never entirely left the Bond-song’s DNA. Nevertheless, this chapter shows, subsequent Bond-songs (especially the two ballads commissioned for Thunderball) struggled mightily to repress their Brechtian ancestry. They insisted they could tell good capitalism from bad, James Bond from his antagonists—but a sense of insecurity about those distinctions endured.

Keywords: Kurt Weill; Bertold Brecht; Goldfinger; Thunderball; Shirley Bassey; Lotte Lenya

Chapter.  8681 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Popular Music

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