Literary Mixtape: James Bond


If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels, well, us too. But wonder no more! Here, we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters. What would be on the personal playlists of Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, Huck Finn or Harry Potter, Tintin or Humbert Humbert? Something revealing, we bet. Or at least something danceable. Read on for a cozy reading soundtrack, character study, or yet another way to emulate your favorite literary hero. This week: Bond, James Bond.

As leading men go, Ian Fleming’s James Bond is a relatively simple one. Fleming originally conceived of the womanizing super spy as “an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument…when I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought by God, (James Bond) is the dullest name I ever heard.” However, the 007 we know and love evolved into a martini-drinking, idiosyncratic spy, fully human and capable of making mistakes, but still the wish fulfillment of many a middle-aged (or any aged) man. We think Bond would listen to a lot of music meant to bolster his own idea of himself, or at least to effectively soundtrack his spying. Here’s what we think Bond would sneak, smoke and surreptitiously order weak martinis to.

“Moanin'” — Charles Mingus

There’s nothing like some nimble, orchestral jazz to get you in the spying mood.

“Playboy” — Hot Chip

We’re pretty confident that if James Bond were around today, he’d be riding around in a Peugeot (or, we suppose, a Bentley — but the man can have several cars) with 20-inch rims and a hell of a lot of chrome. And then listening to music about it.

“Buy U a Drink” — T-Pain

The classy man’s pick up song. But be warned, ladies: the drink is going to be a martini with three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet, shaken, ice-cold, with a large thin slice of lemon peel.

“Battle Without Honor or Humanity” — Tomoyasu Hotel

Let’s not lie. This is for Bond to listen to as he walks from place to place — in slow motion, of course.

“Hard Out Here for a Pimp” — Three 6 Mafia

Finally, James has found someone who understands him. #Champagneproblems.

“Secret Agent Man” — Johnny Rivers

Okay, so it’s pretty corny of James Bond to listen to this song. But it probably makes him feel kind of badass, and we all know that under that stony exterior is a scared little boy who constantly needs to be reminded that he is, in fact, super cool.

“Paper Planes” — M.I.A

For the much-subdued renegade side of Mr. Bond, a little M.I.A.

“Toxic” — Mark Ronson feat. Tiggers & Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Sure, Bond wouldn’t be caught dead listening to the original Britney version, but this ultra-sexy, masculine version would be right up his alley — perfect for zooming around in a tiny car with a curvaceous brunette in the bucket seat next to you.

“SexyBack” — Justin Timberlake feat. Timbaland

James Bond is the Justin Timberlake of spying. Before you ask: yes, Honey Ryder is Timbaland.

“Space Humping $19.99” — Lifter Puller

Spies need to be masters of disguise, so we thought Bond would have at least one hipster-cred track in his arsenal to blend in with any modern villains he might come across. Plus, it includes what has to be one of the best self-congratulating lyrics of all time: ‘I want everyone who’s been eyeing my girl to slowly close their eyes and think about what you’ve got, compare it to what I’ve got, and ask yourself, what do you think my girl wants?’ Killer.