Saturday Single No. 7

Originally posted March 31, 2007

I had a huge James Bond jones when I was a kid.

I was eleven in 1964 – in sixth grade – when the growing popularity of the novels by Ian Fleming and the first two films based on those novels, Dr. No and From Russia With Love, burst into full-blown Bondmania with the release of the third film, Goldfinger.

I wanted oh so badly to see the movie, but my parents weren’t sure. After all, the ads looked like they showed a naked woman painted gold. I won’t deny the attraction that held, but it was truly the story of 007 saving the world – or at least the world’s gold supply – that grabbed me. But the folks said no, a little regretfully, I’ve always thought. They also weren’t sure that I should be allowed to read Fleming’s novels; Dad bought a copy of Goldfinger to see if it would be appropriate for the somewhat precocious urchin I was, but he read it in the evening, just before retiring, and he read at most four or five pages at a time. I despaired as I saw his bookmark make such slow progress into the middle of the book.

Then the Minneapolis Star, an evening paper that no longer exists, began to print excerpts from The Man With The Golden Gun, the final novel Fleming completed before his death in August of 1964. My parents saw how avidly I read the twelve or so excerpts, which had to be okay – after all, they were in the evening paper. And I think they began to think that the books might be okay for me, after all.

But the bookmarker still moved slowly. And one day, I heard on the radio the main theme to Goldfinger, with the vocal performed by Shirley Bassey. We belonged to a record club, so I ordered the soundtrack to the movie, and once it arrived, I would sit by the stereo, trying to imagine the scenes that went with John Barry’s sometimes lush and sometimes sparely powerful music. I especially liked the instrumental version of the main theme, with its lead and rhythm guitars, its surging horns and its insistent percussion.

Eventually, Dad’s bookmark reached the end of the book, and with a sigh at my impatience and a shrug, he handed me Goldfinger, which I devoured in only a few days. (It was, like almost all of Fleming’s Bond novels, only 191 pages!) I moved into seventh grade and met a classmate named Brad, who was also a Bondhead. The film version of Thunderball came out; we went to it and I bought the soundtrack. We spent an afternoon at a double feature of Dr. No and From Russia With Love. We devoured movie magazine pieces about Sean Connery (who in my mind will always be James Bond). And we saw Goldfinger when it was re-released.

At the local toy store, where we raced model cars on the big track – we did have some interests beyond Bond – we looked at the items marketed under the 007 license: toy guns, board games, secret agent kits, trick briefcases, and more. As we looked, we partly thought, who would buy this stuff? And we partly thought, oh, I want it!

Secret agents were so cool. Not just James Bond, but Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin, the men from U.N.C.L.E. And John le Carré’s Alec Leamas, who was “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold,” as well as Len Deighton’s nameless agent in “The Ipcress File.”

My dad took me to see the films based on the latter two books, and I read a few “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” books. A copy of the book Dr. No showed up in my Christmas stocking, and I devoured that as rapidly as I had the first book. I got two more records: one a low-budget item titled Thunderball on the Design label, which had a bunch of jazz guys performing themes from all the various secret agent movies and programs, and one called Sounds For A Secret Agent, on which David Lloyd and his London-based orchestra (a jazzy group, despite the word “orchestra”) offered their versions of themes from the four existing Bond films as well as themes for those Bond titles that had not yet been made into films. Brad and I thought that was a great idea, and the music was pretty cool, too.

And then, it ended. When eighth grade began, Brad had moved out of town; I never knew where. And although spies and agents were still cool for a while, by the time 1967 rolled around, other things – the rise of the hippie, for one – captured the public’s imagination. I finished reading Fleming’s novels, and I enjoyed them, but about the time I finished the last one, my sister brought home a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and I had a new world to explore.

I still have the four Bond records, and I play them occasionally, the two soundtracks and the Lloyd more frequently than the low-budget jazz LP. And my favorite bit of music from all of them remains John Barry’s instrumental version of “Goldfinger,” today’s Saturday Single.

John Barry – “Goldfinger” [1964]

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7 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 7”

  1. A Baker’s Dozen from 1985, Vol. 2 « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] I paid little attention to baseball at all in those years, preferring to read and to listen to my James Bond […]

  2. Recalling The Year Of No Crayons « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] version of “007” from the James Bond films comes from an album mentioned here some time ago. David Lloyd jumped on the Bondwagon in 1965 by recording not only the themes to the […]

  3. A Rambling Post Seeking A Destination « Echoes In The Wind Says:

    […] the answer to a question that I’d wondered about a fair amount during my mid-1960s James Bond immersion: Why, given the iconic success of the “James Bond Theme” – which was introduced in the first […]

  4. The Music Behind The Movies « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] long-time fascination with film soundtracks began – as I shared here in the first few months of this blog – with Goldfinger, the third of the James Bond films. As I […]

  5. Saturday Single No. 321 « Echoes In The Wind Says:

    […] of bass player Jimmy Bond. His name popped up in 1965 on the back of a record I bought during my James Bond mania. As I’ve noted other times, before reading any of Ian Fleming’s books or seeing any of the […]

  6. ‘In From The Cold . . .’ « Echoes In The Wind Says:

    […] for something suitable for a frigid Minnesota morning. Back in the mid-1960s, when I was in my James Bond phase, I went beyond Ian Fleming’s books and the movies based on them and read other spy novels and […]

  7. Saturday Single No. 479 « Echoes In The Wind Says:

    […] home to begin reading Ian Fleming’s letters. Fans of James Bond – and I am one, as I’ve noted here several times – will have caught the title’s reference immediately: Fleming’s final Bond […]

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