Paul McCartney – Band On The Run

Paul is great at combining songs together. These three different songs blended together.

The song was recorded in two parts, in different sessions. The first two were taped in Lagos while the third section was recorded in October 1973 at AIR Studios in London. Paul was robbed at knife point in Lagos, Nigeria and they took the tapes that he had at the time. They were never recovered and Paul figured they recorded over them.

The song was off the album Band On The Run which was I think Paul’s best solo album. The album peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, Canada, and the UK in 1974.

McCartney drew inspiration out of something George Harrison said in a lengthy Apple Board meeting “If we ever get out of this house” which Paul changed to “here” and put it in the song.

The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada, and the #3 in the UK.

I’ve read about other possible inspirations for the song other than the George Harrison line.

One source said it was about a metaphorical prison we all find ourselves in at times.

The other was bands like the Wings were running trying to escape the law because of pot convictions. Paul said: “We were being outlawed for pot … And our argument on [‘Band on the Run’] was ‘Don’t put us on the wrong side … We’re not criminals, we don’t want to be. So I just made up a story about people breaking out of prison.’

Paul McCartney: It was symbolic: “If we ever get out of here … All I need is a pint a day” … [In the Beatles] we’d started off as just kids really, who loved our music and wanted to earn a bob or two so we could get a guitar and get a nice car. It was very simple ambitions at first. But then, you know, as it went on it became business meetings and all of that … So there was a feeling of “if we ever get out of here”, yeah. And I did

From Songfacts

Shortly after the Band On The Run album was released, McCartney told Melody Maker: “The basic idea about the band on the run is a kind of prison escape. At the beginning of the album the guy is stuck inside four walls, and eventually breaks out. There is a thread, but it’s not a concept album.”

McCartney recorded the album in Lagos, Nigeria along with his wife Linda and guitarist Denny Laine. The other Wings decided not to make the trip, which worked out fine in the end: McCartney considers the album his best post-Beatles work. He told Word in 2005: “I was on drums and guitar a lot, mainly because the drummer decided to leave the group the night before and one of the guitar players decided not to come! So we got that solo element into an otherwise ‘produced’ album.”

Paul was asked if this was a reference to Wings escaping from the shadow of The Beatles…he replied “Sort of – yeah. I think most bands on tour are on the run.”

This song was used to nice effect in the movie The Killing Fields, where a young woman with a transistor radio listens to this in the wake of a brutal US bombing of a Cambodian village when suspected rebels are being rounded up and shot. The song exemplified the contrast between the sort of druggy, frivolous Pop culture of the 1970s West and the stark realities of the Third World at the same time. 

Paul McCartney explained the song’s meaning to The Mail on Sunday’s Event magazine: “I wrote it as a story to sum up the transition from captivity to freedom. When the tempo changes at (sings), ‘The rain exploded with a mighty crash,’ I do that in my concert and that always feels like a freeing moment.”

Band on the Run

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

16 thoughts on “Paul McCartney – Band On The Run”

  1. a great song, and as you say, a great work of melding together different songs into something cohesive. Nice that radio generally plays the whole track now – for many years, I’d only hear the shorter version beginning with the guitar before “Well the rain exploded…”

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yea…I love Paul to death and would love to play guitar with him…but not in the middle of a civil war!


  2. Shockingly, I agree 100% with you!😆

    This is one of my favorite Paul McCartney tunes post Beatles. The three songs in one make it a mini opus.

    While on most of his post Beatles/solo albums Paul had at least one or two decent tunes, I also agree the “Band On the Run” was his best overall. “Tug of War” is a close second, in my opinion.

    BTW, are you “Goats Head Soup” heaven?👅😀

    also agree the “Band on the Run” overall is his best post Beatles album.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perfect description… Mini Opus!
      We agree again…I do like Tug of War also. That was a great album by him.

      Band on the Run would have stood up on a Beatles album.

      Yes on Goats Head Soup!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well yea…it’s Wings…come on…everything Wings = Paul McCartney… It’s not like everyone wrote something…once in a while he would take someone else’s song but not a lot. Medicine Jar was one of them written by the guitar player.


  3. As I’ve mentioned on your post about “Layla”, I love songs like this, “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”, “Layla” and “Stairway to Heaven” that are actually different melodies or songs melded together into a cohesive unit.

    Liked by 1 person

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