Paul McCartney Was “Very Happy” that Guns N’ Roses Covered “Live and Let Die”

On the latest episode of his McCartney: A Life in Lyrics podcast, Paul McCartney looks back at “Live and Let Die,” the theme song he wrote and recorded for the 1973 James Bond film of the same name. The tune, which McCartney recorded with his band Wings, became the highest-charting Bond theme up to that time, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and later was famously covered by Guns N’ Roses.

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“I thought it was pretty good, actually,” McCartney said of Guns N’ Roses’ 1991 version of the song. “I was more amazed that they would do it, this sort of young American group.”

[RELATED: Paul McCartney Photo Collection to Go On Exhibition at the Chrysler Museum of Art]

The former Beatles star also revealed that at one point, his younger children had a hard time convincing their schoolmates that their father composed the tune. “[M]y kids went to school and they would say, ‘My dad wrote that.’ [And other kids would say,] ‘No [he] didn’t. It’s Guns N’ Roses,’” McCartney noted. “Nobody would ever believe them.”

That being said, McCartney maintained that he was “very happy” the hard-rock band had covered his song, adding, “I always like people doing my songs … it’s a great compliment.” He also pointed out that it doesn’t hurt his bank account either.

Guns N’ Roses’ rendition of “Live and Let Die,” which appeared on the band’s Use Your Illusion I album, reached No. 33 on the Hot 100 and No. 5 on the U.K. singles chart, while McCartney and Wings’ original version only made it to No. 9 in the U.K.

McCartney said he didn’t feel “Live and Let Die” rated among the very best Bond themes, maintaining that he considered songs like “From Russia with Love” and “Goldfinger” more “Bond-ian,” but he also noted that “a lot of people put it on their lists and put it top of the list, actually.”

“Live and Let Die” features a dramatic horn-driven orchestral arrangement created by longtime Beatles producer George Martin, who produced the track, and McCartney continues to showcase the song in his concerts, always accompanying his performance with a pyrotechnics display.

“It can get a little hot up there, yeah, I must say,” McCartney said. “And the thing I think I like most about it is that, as we know the [first] explosion’s about to happen … we often look at the people, particularly in the front row, who are, like, blithely [singing] along … and, boom! … It’s great to just watch them. They look at each other and … they’re shocked.”

The McCartney: A Life in Lyrics podcast can be heard now at iHeart.com, Pushkin.fm, and various popular streaming services.

As previously reported, the podcast series was inspired by McCartney’s 2021 book The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, which features profiles of 154 of his songs. The podcast is hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon and incorporates audio interviews that he did with McCartney that served as the basis for the book.

Two 12-episode seasons of the podcast series are planned, with new episodes of the first season premiering in weekly installments. McCartney: A Life in Lyrics is co-produced by iHeartPodcasts and the Pushkin audio-production company.

The first eight episodes of the podcast can be heard now. In addition, the entire first season of the series is available to subscribers to the Pushkin+ service.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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