Sunday, October 15, 2017

Shirley Bassey – "Goldfinger" (1964)

He’s the man,
The man with the Midas touch

I’m sure you remember the scene in the James Bond movie, Goldfinger, where villain Auric Goldfinger kills a young woman by covering her entire body with gold paint.  

“She died of skin suffocation,” the know-it-all Bond explains to his boss, M. “It’s all right so long as you leave a small bare patch at the base of the spine to allow the skin to breathe.”

According to Helena Jenkinson’s note, “Skin Suffocation,” which appears in the August 2017 issue of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Dermatology journal, the skin does in fact breathe.  But the amount of oxygen taken in through the skin is only about 0.4% as much as the human body obtains through breathing.

“In other words,” Jenkinson writes, “one will not asphyxiate from being painted head to toe, as long as air continues to flow via mouth and nose to the lungs.”

In other other words, 007 was so full of sh*t that his eyes were brown.

*     *     *     *     *

Is there any doubt that “Goldfinger” is the best James Bond movie theme song ever?

Shirley Bassey was a popular UK recording artist when she was picked by the man who composed “Goldfinger,” John Barry, to record that song in 1964.  

Bassey and Barry with their
“Goldfinger” gold records
Barry, who eventually composed the scores for eleven James Bond films, had conducted the orchestra that accompanied Bassey on a tour the previous year.  The two had become romantically involved during that tour, which probably didn’t hurt Bassey’s chances when it was time for Barry to choose someone to record “Goldfinger.” 

Barry, who was married four times, must have had pretty good game because the second of his wives was the legendary beauty, Jane Birkin.  (After Barry and Birkin divorced in 1968, she hooked up with singer/songwriter/actor/director/poet/painter Serge Gainsbourg.  The actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg is their daughter.)

Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin
Regardless of whether Barry’s decision was made by his big head or his little head, Bassey knocked “Goldfinger” out of the park. 

Particularly noteworthy is the long last note, which Bassey held until she was blue in the face.  (She removed her bra between takes in the hope that doing so would allow her to inhale a little extra oxygen.)

“Goldfinger” was a top ten hit in the U.S., Japan, Germany, Italy, and a number of other countries.  Oddly, it peaked at #21 in the UK.

Here’s “Goldfinger”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon: 

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