If you’re looking for something to do with your next 22 evenings, I highly recommend watching the James Bond films. In chronological order, if possible. Apart from being a history of the last fifty years of filmmaking, the series is full of great music, including this great and unexpectedly beautiful song by Louis Armstrong.
The movie it comes from, 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, is a bit unexpected itself, in that it ends with Bond doing something you’d never think he would do: getting married. After leaving the ceremony, he stops on the side of the road with his new wife to enjoy a scenic view (spoiler alert!) when the bad guys drive by and spray the car with bullets, killing his bride but leaving Bond unscathed. He gets in the car and cradles her body as the music starts, saying, “it’s alright, she’s just resting. There’s no rush…we have all the time in the world.” A tear wells up in Bond’s eye, and the movie ends. Wow.
For a movie franchise that usually relies on gratuitous womanizing and lame one-liners, it’s an incredibly touching moment. Couple that with the fact that this was the last piece of music Armstrong recorded as his health faded away, and the song becomes a poignant statement about the brevity of love and the inevitability of death.
What makes this a beautiful song:
1. Louis’ voice. One of the most recognizable voices in history. I always thought he sounded a bit like a muppet with a sore throat. Not a formula for success in the singing world, but it works. What I love best about his voice is that it always sounds like he’s smiling while he sings.
2. The mini-guitar solo after each time Louis sings “nothing more, nothing less, only love”. If this was done on an electric guitar, it would be a real face-melter. But as it is, it’s much more relaxed.
3. The trumpet solo. It’s restrained, it sounds like grocery store music, and it’s not Armstrong (he was too sick to play it). But that’s okay. It just helps ensure that Armstrong’s voice is the highlight.
Recommended listening activity:
Holding hands with someone by linking pinkies.