iTunes Diaries, entry #31: “Nobody Does it Better” by Carly Simon

I was once a little…um, okay, terribly obsessed with iTunes.  I got my first iPod in 2004 and became immediately entranced by Apple’s seeming infinite lists of music for sale.  Over the years, I spent way too much time on iTunes and spent way too much money on music, some of which was great, and some of which was not.  In 2011, for the sake of my sanity and my bank account, I went cold turkey.  I suspended my iTunes activities and completely stopped visiting site.  With the iTunes Diaries, I take a look back, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly in music that I just had to have in the moment. 


I was around 12 or 13 when I saw my first James Bond movie, which happened to be The Spy Who Loved Me. The movie involved Roger Moore being all Roger Moore-ish, Russian spies, girls swooning, and an underwater base. At least, I think all that was there. As with most of the Bond movies I’ve seen, in my head they all kind of roll into one big amalgam of fancy spymastering, chases involving impossible vehicles, lots of screen mugging, and gadget porn. But though The Spy Who Loved Me didn’t turn me into a Bond fanatic, it did introduce me to the musical majesty of Bond themes.

I have on my iPod several theme songs from Bond movies, but none makes my ears happier than “Nobody Does it Better” by Carly Simon. (And if you haven’t caught on already, this is the theme from The Spy Who Loved Me.)

I don’t know a ton about Bond themes, but I do know that the format used for this movie — scantily-clad (if clad at all) women moving around in silhouette or in focus — was replicated for several titles. The…um… gun gymnast(?) is what makes this one stick out in my mind. And at the time, way back when, I was a HUGE fan of gymnastics. Like, a Olympic-sized fan. I was never nimble enough myself to ever think of catapulting around willy-nilly, but boy oh boy, did I get a kick out of watching other people stick the landing. And no matter male or female, my two favorite events were the floor routine and the high/uneven bars. So watching a women swing around the barrel of a gun while “Nobody Does it Better” pounded away in the background was nearly too weird/confounding/exciting for my pre-teen brain to handle.

But as “wild” as The Spy Who Loved Me‘s opening sequence was, it really was Simon’s incredible voice that caught my attention most. Deep, rich, clear, not like other women singers I had heard before. (My Top 40 radio phase was just beginning, and my discovery of the female side of classic rock/adult contemporary was a little ways off.)  Every note she hit was perfect, every pause had meaning, and every moment both charmed while harboring just enough bravado. Plus, that orchestration! Gorgeous and broad and so easy to get swept up in.

“Nobody Does it Better” is one of those songs that nobody can do better. I’m sure there are covers of it are out there, but I’ll take only Carly Simon or none at all. In fact, here it is again, only this time with Simon in view. Sheer perfection.

The Spy Who Loved Me original motion picture soundtrack (1977)
The Spy Who Loved Me original motion picture soundtrack (1977)


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