Monday, December 31, 2007

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #31 - You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatra

Claire: We're conscious of repeating ourselves in this list, but to me, doing this list seems quite bizarre. The luscious nature of pop and it's power to heal, lift and empower should surely on any rational planet be celebrated, but instead, the power of the critical list seems to belong to the latest bunch of scruffy indie misfits babbling on, just because they can strum the F chord on a guitar. It's a strange and contrary world that thinks because a song has a joyous coda to it, it's cheap and meaningless. However, pop is very easy to get wrong, and people under-estimate the difficulty to be convincing at interpreting a pop song, as though anyone could do it. Believe us, not everyone can. That we need to point out the strength of these songs to the Toby Cresswells of this world feels like I'm turning into a rallying girl, who is saying the obvious.

Nancy Sinatra, it's fair to say, is a massive personal hero of mine. I think of her as the single most under-appreciated artist of the 1960s. She shone with star quality, and was an emphatically superb interpreter of a song, particularly once Lee Hazlewood instructed her to get nasty and "bite the words". To quote the old Smash Hits, her best of CD contains no duff tracks at all. However, because she was sublimely beautiful and, gasp, didn't write her own songs, history doesn't afford her the respect she deserves, and all she is remembered for is her is her duet with her Dad and the kitschy "These Boots...", rather than the 43 other singles she released on Reprise, which cover all the entire gamut of human emotions. And believe me, if you don't appreciate Nancy as a magical singer, have a listen to someone attempting covering her songs. Awful isn't it? I never forgave Coldplay...

You Only Live Twice (the Bond theme from the film of the same name, when having a Bond theme meant something) incidentally, is almost a mash up, since the words and vocals are pretty much cobbled together from a tape from a shambolic session where Nancy struggled to get her performance in order. However, the vulnerability and nerves on the vocal add to the lush, romantic theme of the song. Less aggressive than previous Bond themes, You Only Live Twice, tinged with a film appropriate Oriental feel, is laid back perfect pop, luscious and seductive. And of course, it's incumbent to mention THOSE John Barry strings, without which the songs romantic feeling wouldn't build anywhere near as well. This is heart stoppingly wonderful stuff, and even 40 years on, not a single second is wasted on the whole track.

It's perfect, absolutely perfect, but I suspect you knew that. However, if you prefer wordy indie poetry...


Blogger M.C. Glammer said...

I was going to suggest "Who Will Buy" off the soundtrack to her TV special, but it's not really pop so much as big band. (I have the album if you wish a copy.)

4:26 AM  
Blogger ThePopGirls said...

I've got the DVD and the CD re-release now, I obviously watch it often. I think this is probably Nancys best Pop moment (apart from maybe Last Of The Secret Agents) - I prefer SugarTown as a video and song, but it's more country.

Who Will Buy and Jackson are fab obviously.


2:48 PM  

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