Hal David, an appreciation

Hal David

Hal David, who contributed lyrics to songs in three James Bond movies, died on Sept. 1 at age 91. He’s not really remembered for his 007 contributions because he wrote lyrics to many popular songs, especially in collaboration with Burt Bacharach. But he merits mention for his Bond film work also.

The 1967 Casino Royale spoof produced by Charles K. Feldman is an uneven movie. Still, Bacharach’s score and the songs he did with David were a highlight, especially “The Look of Love” performed by Dusty Springfield. David went on to work two times on the Eon Productions series, collaborating with John Barry on songs for 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The main Barry-David offering was “We Have All the Time in the World” performed by Louis Armstrong.

A decade later, David worked with Barry one more time on the title song of 1979’s Moonraker, whose title song would be the third, and final, performance by Shirley Bassey in a James Bond movie.

Both “The Look of Love” and “We Have All the Time in the World” are memorable (the latter revived many years later for a beer commercial). “Moonraker” doesn’t get the kudos of other Bond title songs but it’s still a collaboration of three highly professional individuals in composer Barry, lyricist David and singer Bassey.

It should also be noted that David’s older brother Mack (1912-1993) also dabbled in the spy genre, writing lyrics for songs in two Matt Helm movies, The Silencers and The Wrecking Crew. Mack David also co-wrote the title song to 77 Sunset Strip and other Warner Bros. television shows.

Hal David and his impact on the world of 007

Lyricist Hal David, who turned 90 earlier this year, will be the subject of a musical tribute Oct. 17 in Los Angeles. David enjoyed a prolific career and had an impact on the musical side of James Bond movies.

When it comes to Bond songs, John Barry’s music and lyrics from the likes of Don Black, Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley understandably dominate the conversation because of classics such as Goldfinger, Thunderball, Diamonds Are Forever and You Only Live Twice.

But David actually worked on three 007 movies. Of course, the first of those three was the 1967 spoof Casino Royale. That movie wasn’t part of the film series from Eon Productions. It has a lot of flaws, is extremely uneven thanks to multiple directors and a gaggle of screenwriters. However, the Burt Bacharach score and songs by Bacharach and David were among the movie’s pluses.

David then worked on two films of the Eon series: 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and 1979’s Moonraker, both with John Barry as composer. David’s collaboration with Barry on We Have All the Time in the World produced one of the most memorable songs in the series, even if it wasn’t a commercial hit.

What follows are two segments from a 2006 television special about Bond songs that include David’s contributions to the musical world of 007. (For more information about the October event honoring David, JUST CLICK HERE.)

This first segment covers Casino Royale (in particular the song The Look of Love performed by Dusty Springfield) and Moonraker, the third of three Bond titles songs performed by Shirley Bassey:

This later segment describes how the song We Have All the Time in the World, performed by Louis Armstrong, came together.

More about James Bond songs from UK documentary

The original spoofy Casino Royale in 1967 was, by all accounts, a big mess. It was instigated by Cubby Broccoli’s former boss, Charles K. Feldman, who snared the rights. But Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, after already having to make Kevin McClory a partner in Thunderball, weren’t in the mood to share a second time with another producer. So Feldman made Casino Royale a spoof instead. Uneven is probably the most tactful description.

However, the film has a major asset, the song The Look of Love. The story behind it is can be seen below. Also, we get a look at the creation of the title song for Moonraker, the third (and least popular) Shirley Bassey Bond song. Dame Shirley wasn’t as keen on it as her earlier Bond efforts but says she did as a favor to her old collaborator John Barry.

As it turns out, Hal David did the lyrics for both of the songs featured in this segement: