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The James Bond SongsPop Anthems of Late Capitalism$
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Adrian Daub and Charles Kronengold

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190234522

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190234522.001.0001

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“A Golden Girl Knows”

“A Golden Girl Knows”

The Ballads of James Bond

(p.47) 2 “A Golden Girl Knows”
The James Bond Songs

Adrian Daub

Charles Kronengold

Oxford University Press

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

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