BOND: Live & Let Write (Rejected Music) - Radiohead - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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BOND: Live & Let Write (Rejected Music) - Radiohead

Chris Morley discovers that nobody does it better than Radiohead (except Sam Smith, apparently).

The karma police clearly had it in for Radiohead during their attempts to contribute themes for Spectre, the job eventually going to Sam Smith after not one but two attempts by the band were rejected! The first, titled Man Of War was originally performed live on several occasions with a version recorded for OK Computer but going unreleased until a resurrection in time for inclusion on the second disc of its 20th anniversary reissue in June of 2017 as OKNOTOK.

Man Of War itself had actually been kicked around since OK Computer's predecessor The Bends, and was described by frontman Thom Yorke as their homage to classic Bond themes in their own melodramatic fashion. The point was rammed home on tour promoting the album as they would cover Nobody Does It Better, Carly Simon's contribution to The Spy Who Loved Me

A subsequent attempt to rework their own original contribution to the Bondian pantheon, in line with their shift into a more electronic direction, came with the soundtrack of the 1998 film remake of The Avengers. The attempt, though, ended in apathy, with Yorke remembering...
"We were so messed up and we went in, tried to do the track, but we just couldn’t do it. It was actually a really difficult period of time.
We had a five-week break and all the shit was coming to the surface ... It was a real low point after it."
From that low came the fruits of further such experimentation. Within two years, Kid A arrived and began the start of a run also including Amnesiac, Hail To The Thief, In Rainbows & The King Of Limbs which seemingly confirmed they'd escaped the confines of your standard guitar, bass & drums.

Off the back of that they actually got themselves a commission to write the Spectre theme, submitting Man Of War. While the film's producers liked the song, the fact it hadn't been written specifically for the film rankled them a bit. Probably as it meant that it wouldn't be eligible for a Best Original Song award at the Oscars! And so Man Of War was shelved, destined only for the abovementioned OK Computer bonus disc.
Drift all you like
From ocean to ocean
Search the whole world
But drunken confessions
And hijacked affairs
Will just make you more alone

When you come home
I'll bake you a cake
Made of all their eyes
I wish you could see me
Dressed for the kill
You're my man of war

You're my man of war

And the worms will come for you
Big Boots
Yeah, yeah, yeah

So unplug the phones
Stop all the taps
It all comes flooding back
Undeterred, Radiohead had a second go and came up with a potential theme during the sessions for A Moon Shaped Pool. The title of the song, this time, even matching the film...

Coming up with Spectre, the band would taste disappointment once more - this effort rejected as being too melancholy. Director Sam Mendes thought the lyrics too distracting from the overall tone of the film, having tried to shoehorn it into the film elsewhere but giving up & admitting the attempt was...
" utter nightmare ... we had this beautiful song and we weren't able to use it.”
What was it about the words that might have peeved Mendes so?
I'm lost, I'm a ghost
Dispossessed, taken host
My hunger burns a bullet hole
A spectre of my mortal soul
These rumors and suspicion
Anger is a poison
The only truth that I could see
Is when you put your lips to me
Future's tricked by the past
Spectre, how he laughs

Fear puts a spell on us
Always second-guessing love
My hunger burns a bullet hole
A spectre of my mortal soul
The only truth that I can see
Spectre has come for me
Speaking to the BBC, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, also a composer for film in his own right, elaborated further.
“It wasn't right for the film, what we did. So we thought, "Great! Then it's ours. We can finish it how it's meant to be and we can release it. So that side of it was really positive, you know?
But I guess there's lots of people interested in who does [the Bond theme]. There's a lot riding on it and the song we did was just too dark or whatever, so that's fine. [It] means we get to have it back and it's ours and we got to put it out. We're really, really proud of it.”
Long-time Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich was less charitable about the whole business!
"That fucking James Bond movie threw us a massive curveball. It was a real waste of energy.

We stopped doing what we were doing and had to concentrate on that for a while since we were told it was something that was going to come to fruition ... It caused a stop right when we were in the middle of [the album recording]."
Spectre, like the preceding Man Of War, did at least get a second chance - both as a bonus track on the special edition of A Moon Shaped Pool & B-side on the vinyl Burn The Witch single, but with not one but two rejected James Bond themes to their name, proof perhaps that nobody tries to do it better than Radiohead.

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