Live And Let Write (Music): BRIAN WILSON'S PROPOSED JAMES BOND THEME - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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From fun, fun, fun in a Ford Thunderbird, to run, run, run in an Aston Martin. Chris Morley explores the Bond theme that never was...

It would seem that Brian Wilson at one point dreamed of trading in the sort of car that shaped the subject matter of much of the early output of the Beach Boys for an Aston Martin! Entering the studio to record what would become Pet Sounds, he had every intention of composing a Bond theme and so set about recording Run James Run.

Recorded on November 17th 1965, just over a month before the release of Thunderball which Tom Jones had already laid done his vocals for, if Wilson had offered it to the Bond producers and they accepted it, the theme would've not been heard until 1967's You Only Live Twice (although with that title, perhaps, 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service might've suited it better?). As it was, though, Run James Run had to wait until 2017 for a release as part of the Brian Wilson Anthology set.

In a sense the track survived, at least in part it was included on what for many is the Beach Boys' masterwork Pet Sounds. Elements of Run James Run made up the titular instrumental piece which appears as the penultimate track of its writer's attempt to move away from surfing, cars & girls and into a more emotionally sensitive space of what he termed sophisticated feeling music, having had his mind blown by the Beatles' Rubber Soul.....

But what of the intended Bond-opening scope of the original composition? Speaking to Billboard after having resurrected it, Wilson would say,
"I love the lyrics on the car songs. They are just fun and they make people happy."
As this track might attest...
You'd better run James run
A little faster
Fast as you can go
Find a ride (run, run, run a little faster)
Get inside
You'd better run James run
A little faster
Take her by the hand
Find a ride (run, James, run a little faster)
Be the man

You can stop and stare but she really doesn't care
If she's running really loud
She's a top and a closer
And a real good short
When she's hanging with the crowd
Her wheels keep turning
As the wood keeps burning
Goin' faster, faster
You can catch her but you'll never outlast her
But Wilson's favourite part of Run James Run wasn't the words he penned, rather...
"What I like about ‘Run James Run’ is the melody, I thought that the song had an unusually good chord pattern.”
Inspiration for such chord pattern was found in the big names of big screen composition of the day
"I loved listening to composers like Henry Mancini, who did these cool themes for shows like Peter Gunn, and Les Baxter, who did all these big productions that sounded sort of like Phil Spector productions." 
Pet Sounds itself was written & recorded following Wilson's abandonment of live performance after a mid-air panic attack, the studio as much of an instrument as any of the more conventional kind played on the record. Another more retrospectively disastrous influence during its genesis was the introduction of drugs into the creative process.....
"I wrote Pet Sounds on marijuana—not on it, but I utilized marijuana now and then for Pet Sounds.... It gave me the ability—carte blanche—to create something, you know what I mean? And that's where it's at; drugs aren't where it's at. But, for me, that's where it was at in 1966."
However questionable his reasoning for going down that avenue it didn't stop him introducing other such dubious substances into the mix.
“I had what I consider to be a very religious experience.. I took LSD, a full dose of LSD, and later, another time, I took a smaller dose. And I learned a lot of things, like patience, understanding. I can't teach you, or tell you what I learned from taking it. But I consider it a very religious experience.“
A religious experience that was evident on tracks like God Only Knows, the first time the Lord had been name-checked in a pop song, but perhaps also exasperated Wilson's already fragile mental state.

For the recording of Run James Run, Brian performed it with several session musicians, no other members of the Beach Boys were present. The session sheet for the recording date carries the notation, "This is a working title only" and the unique percussion sound heard on the track is drummer Ritchie Frost playing two empty Coca-Cola cans, at Brian's suggestion.

Wilson would extend his choice of unusual instruments whilst attempting to finish the Pet Sounds follow-up, Smile - described by its creator as a teenage symphony to God. As Cheetah magazine would recount in Goodbye Surfing, Hello God, during a psychotic breakdown Wilson hosted a dinner party at his home to unveil the album to his guests.....
“When everyone was seated and waiting for the food, Brian tapped his knife idly on a white china plate. “Listen to that,” he said. “That’s really great!” Everybody listened as Brian played the plate. “Come on, let’s get something going here,” he ordered.

“Michael – do this. David – you do this.” A plate-and-spoon musicale began to develop as each guest played a distinctly different technique, rhythm and melody under Brian’s enthusiastic direction.“That’s absolutely unbelievable!” said Brian. “Isn’t that unbelievable? That’s so unbelievable I’m going to put it on the album.

Michael, I want you to get a sound system up here tomorrow and I want everyone to be here tomorrow night. We’re going to get this on tape.”
Director Bill Pohlad would later become keen to explore how Wilson got to this point & so made Love & Mercy in 2014.

Paul Dano played young Brian during the recording of Pet Sounds, and John Cusack the middle aged man he would become during his treatment with psychotherapist Dr Eugene Landy, as played by Paul Giamatti - his methods later deemed deeply unethical. Nevertheless Pohlad sensed a story worth telling.
“I have no interest in making a biopic. ... What's fascinating to me is to look at the different elements in his life, like that super-creative period when he was doing Pet Sounds and the later part when he was redeemed. ... You don't have to know the music here in the same way you didn't have to know the math in A Beautiful Mind.”
A beautiful mind that evidently veered from spies to spirituality.

Monty Norman
John Barry 
Sir Paul McCartney & George Martin
Alice Cooper's The Man With The Golden Gun

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