Oct 14

Nobody Does It Better

Nobody Does It Better

Nobody Does It Better” is a power ballad and the theme song for the James Bond film ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (1977). Composed by Marvin Hamlisch with lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, the song was an inescapable worldwide hit performed by Carly Simon.

The other night I re-watched (once again!) the James Bond film ‘Quantum of Solace’, in which the theme song was written and performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys (itself a very cool song).  Since my last blog was on the 1961 movie theme “Town Without Pity – blogsong”, I thought I’d continue the trend and skip ahead 16 years to 1977, and also because today (October 14) was Roger Moore’s birthday. Even though I personally prefer Sean Connery and Daniel Craig, Roger and I did experience seven exciting cinematic adventures together (whew)- and it also fits in with my ‘On This Day’ theme.

In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked it the third-greatest James Bond theme song, while Billboard ranked it the second-greatest. In 2021, USA Today crowned “Nobody Does it Better” the greatest James Bond Theme Song. In addition to Carly Simon’s unforgettable rendition, the song has also been performed live by such varied artists as Celine Dion and Radiohead; in fact, Radiohead’s lead singer, Thom Yorke, called it the “sexiest song ever written”. (Lyrically, “Nobody Does It Better” is a about James Bond’s sexual prowess.)

The Devil’s Interval. I notice that the initial chord of the song, in fact the initial melodic note is a tritone, the most dissonant interval in music. Because of the tension of this interval, since medieval times this has been referred to as a ‘dangerous’ interval or ‘the devil’s interval’. The interval is so dissonant that it acquired the nickname diabolus in musica – the devil in music. Leonard Bernstein used this interval to create the emotional tension in the first three notes of the song ‘Maria’ from West Side Story. I wonder if Marvin Hamlisch made a conscious decision to use this ‘dangerous’ interval for this song in accordance with James Bond’s persona.

My two other favorite Bond theme songs are Goldfinger (of course) and Live and Let Die (of course). By the way, I can highly recommend the 2022 documentary ‘The Sound of 007’ on Prime Video. I had never really given the quality of the music that much thought, but this film pointed out that all of Bond’s music was created by composers, recording artists and music engineers at the very pinnacle of their careers.

Anyway, enjoy.

Dr. Weiss

Some information from Wikipedia