Some opinions change over time, as I reappraise things I previously underappreciated, or as I come to see things I've long loved as more and more flawed. It happens. But there are other opinions that are pretty much calcified in place in my mind for all time. One of these is my belief that Live and Let Die is the worst James Bond movie ever. I hate this movie. It's got some good scenes, and it has generally good acting, but overall, the script is awful junk that offers up the most odiously sexist James Bond ever, a nauseating collection of stereotypes from urban blacks to southern whites, and...well, let's just leave it at that. Live and Let Die stinks.
But then there's the theme song. It's an odd song by Bond film standards. Performed by Paul McCartney and Wings, it has a structure that's unlike just about every other Bond song. It starts off as a ballad, until McCartney gets to the song (and film) title itself, where a series of loud, pounding chords lead into an orchestral segment, no lyrics, seemingly depicting Bondian mayhem. This is all very well, as is the reprise that comes after a middle section.
It's the middle section that's bugged me for years about this song. It sticks out like a sore thumb, being stylistically completely different from the rest of the song. I never, never understood why this bit is in the song. It has never made one lick of sense to me.
But here's the thing: all this Beatles listening I've been doing over the last couple of years has allowed me to put "Live and Let Die" in a context other than that of a Bond song -- now I am also hearing it as a Paul McCartney song, wherein one can often find things like long orchestral segments, songs that start as ballads but become something else, and middle sections that stylistically bear little resemblance to the rest of the song. "Live and Let Die" makes sense to me now. Huzzah! I love it when I get to have an Ohhhhh! moment.
And now, here's "Live and Let Die".