You Know My Name

"You Know My Name", performed by Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, is the theme song to the 2006 James Bond film, Casino Royale. Cornell wrote it jointly with David Arnold, the soundtrack's composer. The film producers went after Cornell because they wanted a strong male singer. Cornell and Arnold tried to make the song a replacement theme for the character instead of the "James Bond theme" reflecting the agent's inexperience in Casino Royale, as well as an introduction to Daniel Craig's grittier and more emotional portrayal of Bond. The single sold 148,000 copies in 2006 in the UK.

The track was leaked onto the Internet on September 20, 2006, and released as a single on November 13, 2006, charting in many countries. Reviews for "You Know My Name" were positive, and the song won the Satellite Award and the World Soundtrack Award, and was nominated for a Grammy Award. While not included in the Casino Royale soundtrack, "You Know My Name" appeared on Cornell's second solo album, Carry On.

You Know My Name.png
A man stands in front of an out-of-focus sports car. The background is a gradient that goes from red to green. Besides the man is written "Chris Cornell", with "You Know My Name" below it. In the down right corner is the text "As featured in the motion picture CasinO ROyale", with a gun-like "7" below Royale's "O".

Composition and recording

Lia Vollack, Sony Pictures's President of Music, called Chris Cornell inviting him to make a song for the new Bond movie, which would "reflect the dramatic new direction of James Bond", with a "strong male singer". Cornell thought it was a strange offer, considering that he is American, and imagined that he would perform a secondary song in the film instead of the main theme. Cornell declared he liked the Bond movies, particularly the ones with Sean Connery, but that he "wasn't really a big fan of the last several movies". But Daniel Craig's casting as James Bond intrigued the musician, and he decided to accept the job. Cornell then went to Prague to visit the film's shooting, and was much impressed with the film's emotional content after he was shown a rough cut of Casino Royale. In Prague he also met the score composer, David Arnold, who suggested writing a song "that echoed the film score".

The composers started their writing separately, Cornell in his apartment in Paris, and Arnold in his house in London. Cornell stated that he had some difficulties with composing: "It is difficult, I think, to write lyrics for a character, so really I just kind of wandered around for about a month not thinking about it too much, until I sort of formulated some idea of a way that I could approach it, where I'm kind of relating to what's in the character in the movie. And because this particular Bond is very edgy, but also has a lot of emotional depth, it's a lot easier." Later the two musicians met and showed each other's ideas, and according to Arnold "it was almost like we wrote two parts of the same song." Cornell wrote lyrics, to which Arnold added some lines and later music. Some of Arnold's ideas included the song's title, the heavy introduction, and "having the same genetic material as the Bond theme, but in a different order and in a different shape".

After a demo of the song was approved by the film's producers, both musicians recorded the full version in AIR Studios London. Cornell and Arnold recorded the guitar and bass parts themselves and hired a session musician for the drums. The recordings were finished by the time Casino Royale finished its principal photography on July 21, 2006, and Arnold played it at the wrap party. Afterwards he mixed in the orchestra parts.

Speaking to film music fan site Maintitles, Arnold said he wanted "You Know My Name" to act as a substitute for the James Bond theme, to represent Bond's immaturity. The song's main notes are played throughout the film, and the classic theme only plays during the end credits to signal the end of his character arc. Arnold felt the song should tie closer to the score, and have the "DNA of the James Bond music". The musical arrangement tried to create "the right blend of rock aggression and sophisticated instrumentation", with Cornell describing it as "more uptempo and a little more aggressive than any other Bond theme has been, maybe since Paul McCartney ['s 'Live and Let Die']".

Cornell stated that the biggest two influences on "You Know My Name" were Tom Jones, who performed the theme for Thunderball, and Paul McCartney, who composed and performed the theme for Live and Let Die. "I decided that I was going to sing it like Tom Jones, in that crooning style. I wanted people to hear my voice," Cornell said. "And 'Live and Let Die' is a fantastic song. Paul McCartney wouldn't have written it if not for that movie. I [also] wanted to write a song in its own universe. I knew I'd never have it again — a big orchestra — so I wanted to have fun with it." Cornell did not put the film's title in the lyrics, because he "couldn't imagine it fitting into a song lyric that would come out of my mouth". And he jokingly stated "Casino Royale didn't make a good rock title, but I would write a song named Octopussy just for fun".

Before producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli announced on July 26, 2006, that Cornell was performing the theme for Casino Royale, various names were reported in the media, some reports going so far as to have the performers apparently claim they were working on the song. This list includes Tina Turner, who previously sang "GoldenEye" for the 1995 Bond film of the same name, and Tony Christie.

The lyrics try to illustrate Bond's psyche in Casino Royale, described by Cornell as a conflicted and tough spy with more emotional depth, not the "superconfident, seemingly invincible, winking kinda ladies' man superspy" of the previous incarnations. Cornell tried to focus on the existential dilemmas and possible sacrifices of secret agents - "There's an isolation in that; the stakes are very high. I've done a lot of living in my 42 years, and it wasn't hard for me to relate to that." The song also served as an introduction to the character, even though he was featured in many other movies before - hence the title "You Know My Name" - dealing with Bond's action such as his first assassination, "introducing himself to what may be the rest of his life and how he will live it and what it will mean."


Three versions of the song were produced:

  1. Main Version: Track 1 on "You Know My Name" singles
  2. Pop Mix: used in the video and released on the Carry On album and on German singles as Track 2
  3. Film Versions: more orchestral versions used in the film's opening and closing credits.

The song was leaked on the internet on September 20, 2006. The first version of the song, the grittier one which was leaked and not used in the movie, was made available for download on iTunes Store on November 13, 2006. This version debuted on the UK Single Download Chart at number 20 on November 22, 2006. It was released as a stand-alone single on December 14, 2006. The single features a new acoustic version of the Soundgarden song "Black Hole Sun" as a B-side. The German, Dutch and Australian versions of the single offer a second version of "You Know My Name" (called the Pop Mix) as a B-side. This version is the one used for the song's music video, and is available on Chris Cornell's solo album, Carry On.

The song is the first Bond theme not to be included on its film's soundtrack album. Cornell declared that it happened because he wanted the song to be "his", and since he wrote "You Know My Name" in midst of recording the solo album Carry On, he felt that the song belonged to the album. In 2008, the song was included in the compilation The Best of Bond...James Bond.

The song's music video was directed by Michael Haussman, who tried to compare "the lives of a professional spy and a rock star". The video premiered on MTV's Making the Video on October 31, 2006.


"You Know My Name" was released in the winter of 2006 and became the most successful song from Chris Cornell on the rock charts and arguably Cornell's most recognizable and popular song. The song peaked at number 79 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 64 on the Billboard Pop 100 chart. In Europe, "You Know My Name" charted in several markets and peaked at number 7 in the UK Singles Chart. Chris Cornell won both the Satellite Award and the World Soundtrack Award for "You Know My Name" in 2007, and garnered a Grammy Award nomination for Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media the following year. The song also received a first-round nomination in the Best Original Song category for the 2006 Academy Awards, but did not qualify for the final list of nominees.

The song received enthusiastic reviews, with critics praising the song's ability to fit well with the context of the film. Film reviewer James Berardinelli considered "You Know My Name" to "sound eerily like something by John Barry"; DVD Verdict's review praised the song, describing it as "working remarkably well in the film's context, lyrically and sonically", and Cinefantastique called it "the best Bond theme song in years, [that] captures the full-blooded glory of classics like 'Goldfinger'". Entertainment Weekly listed "You Know My Name" on a list of Academy Award snubs for Best Song, describing it as "a musically suave, lyrically ominous rock tune that is perfect for Casino Royale's dark reboot of the spy franchise". Among music critics, Billboard described it as "the best Bond theme since 'A View to a Kill'", praising the minimal production; on its review of Carry On, the magazine considered "You Know My Name" to be the best track of the album, describing it as "some of Cornell's most uncomplicated and accessible music to date"; the BBC's unnamed reviewer considered that Cornell's voice "weighs down" the song;


  • Finnish rock band Poets of the Fall covered the song in 2008 for the compilation CD Livenä Vieraissa.
  • A cappella group the Amalgamates from Tufts University perform an all vocal version of the song on their album Prime.

Track listing


  1. "You Know My Name" 4:02
  2. "Black Hole Sun" (Acoustic) 4:38


  1. "You Know My Name" 4:02
  2. "You Know My Name" (Pop Mix)
  3. "You Know My Name" (Video)


Weekly charts

Chart (2006–07) Peak
Austrian Single Chart 28
Danish Single Chart 2
Dutch Single Chart 10
Euro Digital Tracks 2
European Hot 100 Singles 16
Finnish Single Chart 3
French Single Chart 51
German Single Chart 15
Irish Singles Chart 11
Italian Single Chart 4
Norwegian Single Chart 5
Swedish Single Chart 21
Swiss Single Chart 10
UK Downloads Chart 4
UK Singles Chart 7
US Billboard Hot 100 79
US Billboard Hot Digital Songs 57
US Billboard Pop 100 64

Year-end charts

Year Chart Rank
2007 German Singles Chart #87

See also

Content from Wikipedia