Music Flashback: Paul McCartney Belts Out “Band on the Run” 

Paul McCartney Band on the Run

By Randal C. Hill 

Paul McCartney, wife Linda and his Wings group were scheduled to fly to Nigeria to record “Band on the Run.” But some of the musicians never showed that day, so only Paul, Linda and Wings guitarist Denny Laine made the journey. 

In the studio, McCartney sang lead and filled in on guitar, electric piano, bass and drums. (“I played a lot of stuff myself. It was almost a solo album. Almost.”) Not quite, Paul. Linda McCartney added synthesizers and electric piano to the tracks, and Denny Laine offered lead guitar. And both sang backup vocals.  

“Band on the Run” became a five-minute-plus work that played out like a three-act mini-drama. There was the slow, meandering opening. A hard-rocking section kicked in next. Finally, a dynamic Eagles-like harmony drove the work to a powerful finale. 

When the Fab Four began their own music label—Apple Records—in 1968, they “officially” entered the world of Big Business. Consequently, the Beatles often had to endure boring meetings in stuffy boardrooms. At one such gathering, George Harrison unknowingly handed McCartney a part of “Band on the Run.” Paul remembered, “It started off with, ‘If I ever get out of here.’ That came from a remark George made at one of the Apple meetings. He was saying that we’re all prisoners in some way.”  

Related: Music Flashback: “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young 

McCartney later explained that his lyrics involved police hassles and drug problems: “We were being outlawed for pot.” (He preferred marijuana over booze.) “Our argument on ‘Band on the Run’ was that we’re not criminals…So I just made up a song about people breaking out of prison.” 

Paul later said of his musical creation, “It’s a million things, all put together…a band on the run—escaping, freedom, criminals. You name it, it’s there.”