The Living Daylights titles

MOVIES: The Bond Themes That Never Were: ‘The Living Daylights’

The Bond songs that should have been but were replaced at the last minute!

In this series, we take a look at the songs recorded for the James Bond films that were binned and replaced with something else. The how’s, the when’s and the why’s will all be answered. Some of the songs were featured elsewhere in their respective films, others were completely dumped. In this part we look at the song that should of accompanied the title sequence to…

The Living Daylights

By 1987, it was time for a change. Roger Moore had worn the suit and fired the Walther PPK for twelve years and after seven films that collectively grossed over $1.2b worldwide, he moved aside for the next chapter in 007’s long screen history. 33 year old Irish actor, Pierce Brosnan, was considered the front runner, but the Remington Steele star was signed to appear in a new series in 1986 that scuppered his chance. For now that is. Instead, the producers turned to an actor who had been considered as Sean Connery’s replacement for ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, Timothy Dalton. The 24 years old thought himself far too young for the job and turned it down. Now aged 41, Dalton could boast of key roles in the five-time Oscar nominated film ‘Mary Queen Of Scots’ (1972) and ‘Flash Gordon’ (1980).

His casting also prompted a new direction for the 007 films, veering away from the high comedy and spectacle of the Moore years and taking Bond back to the gritty, hard edged drama of the Fleming novels. ‘The Living Daylights’ was a short story written by Fleming in 1962 and published in 1966, two years after his death. The story was adapted and added to in order to provide enough material for a two hour film. With Dalton in place, filming took place in the second half of 1986 and into the early months of 1987. John Barry would return to provide his eleventh full score and, unknown to everyone at the time, his last. Barry would fall ill soon after the film’s release and by the time the franchise returned in the mid-90’s, new composers were lining up to ignite the series with a modern sound, with varying degrees of success. Barry would recover and go on to win his fifth Academy Award for Best Original Score for the film, ‘Dances With Wolves’.

For the title song, a number of artists were under consideration, but interestingly, one song submitted that was by all accounts under serious consideration came from the Pet Shop Boys. The synth-pop duo had begun their run of chart hits at the end of 1985 with “West End Girls” (UK No.1) and had added a second chart topper earlier in 1987 with “It’s A Sin”. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe composed a song, originally titled “The Living Daylights”, for the film, but as has happened so many times before, and since, the song was ultimately rejected and replaced with something else. The Pet Shop Boys didn’t scrap the song themselves. Although it didn’t make the final cut of their 1987 album, “Actually”, it was ‘reworked’ and turned up under the new title of “This Must Be The Place I Waited Years To Leave” for their 1990 album, “Behaviour”, all five and a half minutes of it!

So let’s see how the title sequence could have sounded against the backdrop of a PSB tune:


A late decision was made in the Spring of 1987 to come up with an alternative song and the producers were particularly mindful of the success of Duran Duran‘s smash hit title song from the previous film. So they turned to a band that had also made their name in the charts around the world in the intervening two years, Norwegian trio, a-ha. Working with songwriter and keyboard player Pal Waaktaar, John Barry helped to fashion another typical and traditional Bondian sounding song, although for the first time since ‘The Spy Who Loved Me, the title of the song was not sung at the same time as it appeared on the screen. a-ha themselves were not entirely happy with the finished version, despite the fact it reached the top five on the UK singles chart and went to number one in their home country. A new, reproduced version would later turn up on their 1988 album, “Stay On These Roads”, one that sounded more a-ha than movie theme.

‘The Living Daylights’ was also the first Bond film to benefit from yet more musical input, as John Barry would also work with British band, The Pretenders, with whom he co-wrote and produced two songs that would feature on the soundtrack album. The first, “Where Has Everybody Gone?”, would be repeatedly used when the henchman, Necros, appeared on screen, while the second, the ballad “If There Was A Man”, was used over the end titles instead of a-ha’s main title song.

So here is the main title sequence, as we all know it, with a-ha’s song, produced and scored by John Barry with the knowledge that it could have sounded so different:

Click here to read about the other title songs in this series

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