Friday, November 17, 2006

You Know My Name

"You Know My Name" - Chris Cornell

When I first heard this song, I was unaware that it is the theme tune to Casino Royale, the new Bond film. I heard and recognised Chris Cornell's voice immediately, but quickly clocked from the backing track that this was not an Audioslave record.

I really, really like it.

When I played it to Lord B for the first time, his first reaction was to ask me what it was. His second reaction was one of shock that this was the Bond theme. According to Lord B, Bond themes are supposed to great big dramatic numbers with swelling orchestration (and ideally featuring Shirley Bassey on vocals). Slightly scuzzy rock songs are just not appropriate. He didn't say he thought it was a bad song, he just thought it wasn't a Bond theme.

I disagree for three main reasons:

1. First and foremost, I think this is a pretty good record in its own right. It sounds good - Chris Cornell is one of the best rock vocalists around today, and in spite of being taken out of its normal context (i.e. Soundgarden / Audioslave), his voice still sounds great.

2. Casino Royale is being trumpeted as an attempt to take James Bond away from the gadgets and the gimmicks that the films have become famous for and represents a return to the altogether grittier spy of Fleming's original novels. A move away from the "classic" Bond theme tune is hardly a complete surprise then.... and hiring a rock singer with a slightly edgy past is a good shorthand for the producers to signal their intent loud and clear that Bond is back. Just as Chris Cornell is no Shirley Bassey, Daniel Craig is no Roger Moore.

3. Strip away the vocal and listen to the backing track. Sounds pretty orchestral to me. They've masked it a little with the drums and guitars, but just check out that swell of brass and strings as the song builds to a crescendo..... make no mistake about it, this is a Bond theme in the grand tradition.

What do you think? Thumbs up or down?

1 Discussions:

Blogger bedshaped said...

I can't say I'm a big fan of Bond theme tunes, but this one is a breath of fresh air.
I'm sure Bond fanatics are plugging their ears and spitting at the thought of 'something different'.
As a song in it's own right, it's great. Chris's vocals are as solid as ever, but I hate the orchestrations in it. It's almost like they played the song to the decision makers and they said, "Well yeah, but it needs more brass, more strings, more Bondification."
What it really needs is less dramatic orchestration and more cowbell.
More cowbell dammit!

8:45 PM  

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