The next Bond theme by John Barry for #Johnuary is The Living Daylights.

This is the final Bond score that Barry worked on and is another example of him collaborating with a modern band for the title song. This one being A-ha This is one of my favourite Bond films and I really like the theme tune too.

Pal Waaktaar, who was the guitarist and writer within A-ha, said this fairly recently about working with Barry… “I loved the stuff he added to the track, I mean it gave it this really cool string arrangement. That’s when for me it started to sound like a Bond thing”. However, the respect hadn’t always been there. Here are a couple of key points, lifted directly from Wikipedia which tell a bigger story about the collaboration between Barry and A-ha.

A-ha and Barry did not collaborate well, resulting in two versions of the theme song. John Barry was listed on the credits as co-writer and producer, and the initial release of the song was his version. Barry’s film mix is heard on the soundtrack and all three of A-ha’s best-of compilations. A second version of the song, re-worked by A-ha in 1988, their preferred mix, can be heard on their 1988 album Stay on These Roads.

When interviewed on a late-night show in 1987, Barry said that he found working with the band exhausting secondary to the band’s insistence on using their own version of the song for release. In an interview with Hotrod Magazine, keyboardist Magne Furuholmen said that “[the band’s] fight with Barry left a rather unpleasant aftertaste. Apparently, he compared us to Hitlerjugend in a newspaper interview.” Waaktaar-Savoy stated that although Barry produced the track, he never contributed to the songwriting process and should not have been credited as so (the band Duran Duran made similar claims after they worked briefly with Barry on the theme to the previous Bond film, “A View To A Kill” in 1985). Interesting that Waaktaar changed his views in recent years and started praising Barry’s involvement.

Allegedly, British pop band Pet Shop Boys was originally asked to compose the soundtrack, but backed out when they learned that they should not provide a complete soundtrack but merely the opening theme song.

I personally really like this theme song. I think Morten Harket sings it in quite an edgy way, which is quite suitable for a Bond theme. You can hear some strings and what sounds like ‘synth brass’ which are likely to be Barry’s contribution. I’d love to have been there though to see exactly what Barry’s involvement was in the production.