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You Only Live Twice (song)

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Title: You Only Live Twice (song)  
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Subject: You Only Live Twice (film), Nancy Sinatra, James Bond music, 007は二度死ぬ, List of songs recorded by Björk
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You Only Live Twice (song)

"You Only Live Twice"
Single by Nancy Sinatra
from the album You Only Live Twice
Released 1967
Recorded 2 May 1967 at the CTS Studios in London
Genre Pop
Length 2:48
Label Reprise
Writer(s) Leslie Bricusse, John Barry
Producer(s) John Barry

"You Only Live Twice", performed by Nancy Sinatra, is the theme song to the 1967 James Bond film of the same name. Music and production was provided by veteran James Bond composer John Barry, with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. The song is widely recognized for its striking opening bars, featuring a simple 2-bar theme in the high octaves of the violins and lush harmonies from French horns. It is considered by some to be among the best James Bond theme songs,[1] and has become one of Nancy Sinatra's best known hits. Shortly after Barry's production, Sinatra's producer Lee Hazlewood released a more guitar-based single version.

The song has been extensively covered by artists, from Coldplay to Soft Cell, Björk and Little Anthony & The Imperials to Shirley Bassey. Robbie Williams notably re-recorded the opening bars of the song for his hit "Millennium".


Nancy Sinatra in the 1960s

James Bond veteran John Barry returned to the franchise to produce the score. The lyrics were by Leslie Bricusse, who had previously cowritten the lyrics for the theme to Goldfinger. Julie Rogers was asked to perform the song, and recorded it with a 50 or 60 piece orchestra at CTS Studios. The song was quite different from the later Sinatra version, with a more Oriental flavour. John Barry said: "It was usually the producers that said 'this isn't working, there's a certain something that it needed'. If that energy wasn't there, if that mysterioso kind of thing wasn't there, then it wasn't going to work for the movie."[2] The song shares only two lines with Sinatra's, "You only live twice", and "you’ll pay the price". The film's producer Cubby Broccoli, wanted his friend Frank Sinatra to perform the song. Frank suggested that they use his daughter instead. Barry wanted to use Aretha Franklin, but the producers insisted that he use Nancy instead, who was enjoying great popularity in the wake of her single, These Boots Are Made For Walkin'.[3]

The version (2:46) featured in the film's opening title sequence and on the soundtrack LP is in the key of B and has a single vocal track. The song was recorded with a 60 piece orchestra on 2 May 1967 at the CTS Studios in Bayswater, London.[4] Sinatra later recalled that she was incredibly nervous during the recording, and it took around 30 takes to acquire enough material.[5] Producer John Barry eventually created the final product by incorporating vocals from 25 takes.[6]

Sinatra's American producer Lee Hazlewood created the version that was released as a single. It is in the key of C and features vocal overdubbing, backing chorus, brass and stinging twangy guitar, with a running time of 2:56.

The recognizable opening string melody of the song originates from Alexander Tcherepnin's First Piano Concerto (op.12), composed in 1919, although in his version the initial motif is succeeded by a falling octave pattern instead of transposing and repeating the motif in a different key, as is characteristic to "You Only Live Once".

Critical reception

Roy Wood described Barry's string introduction to his song "You Only Live Twice" as "absolute perfection". Mark Monahan of The Daily Telegraph described the lyrics as "mysterious, romantically carpe diem ... at once velvety, brittle and quite bewitching".[7]

Cover versions

The song is one of the most covered Bond themes.

Use in popular culture

The song was used in the closing montage of Mad Men's season five finale, "The Phantom".[1]

A parody of the song was created for The Simpsons episode "YOLO".


Chart (1967) Peak position
AUS 10
CAN 39
UK 11
US 44

See also


  1. ^ a b Rosen, Christopher (06/11/2012). Mad Men' 'You Only Live Twice': Season 5 Finale Closes With Bond Theme"'".  
  2. ^ MI6-HQ Copyright 2011. "You Only Sing Twice - MI6 uncovers the twists and turns that the You Only Live Twice theme song took, from Julie Rogers to Nancy Sinatra :: MI6 :: You Only Live Twice (1967) :: James Bond 007". Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  3. ^ Hastings, Rob (1 February 2011). "Tributes to John Barry, the man with the Midas touch for movie music". The Independent. 
  4. ^ Jon Burlingame. The Music Of James Bond. Oxford University Press. pp. 197–.  
  5. ^ Jon Burlingame. The Music Of James Bond. Oxford University Press. p. 198.  
  6. ^ Jon Burlingame. The Music Of James Bond. Oxford University Press. p. 199.  
  7. ^ Monahan, Mark (16 November 2006). "James Bond songs From Bassey and Barry to Bono and Tina". The Daily Telegraph. 
  8. ^ "YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (On ne vit que deux fois) Alternate Opening by Little Anthony & The Imperials". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Paul Simpson (2002). The Rough Guide to James Bond. Rough Guides. p. 227.  
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