Paul McCartney – Helen Wheels

Great rocker by Paul that was on his most successful album Band On The Run. “Helen Wheels” was Paul’s tongue-in-cheek nickname for his Land Rover vehicle (“Hell-on-Wheels”). Paul originally wanted this song to be a stand-alone single but Capitol overruled him…. and placed it on US versions of the Band On The Run album.

Drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarist Henry McCullough quit Wings right before Paul was heading to Lagos, Nigeria to record this album. Paul only had himself, Linda, and Denny Laine to get it done. He wanted to record outside of the UK and got a list from Capitol of all of ther studio locations. He picked Africa and was accused of going there to expand his music with their percussion and rythms.

They got to Lagos ready to work but it didn’t go well at first. Paul and Linda walked home one night from the studio and were pestered by a group of men in a car, who repeatedly asked if they wanted a lift. After arguing with the men…six of them got out of the car and robbed Paul and Linda by gun point. They ended up handing over over demo tapes, cameras and cash. Al the music and lyrics he had for Band On The Run was gone. He had to reconstruct everything in the Lagos studio.

They went out of their way to avoid an African sound after the mugging and being accused of coming to Lagos to exploit their music. After 6 weeks in Lagos, the album was completed in London.

I do wish Paul would have made more songs like Juinors Farm, Let Me Roll It, and this one. He could do edgy songs when he wanted to.

The song peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100, #4 in Canada, and #12 in the UK in 1973. It was a non-album single in the UK and Europe but included on Band on the Run in America.

The Band on the Run album peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, Canada, The UK, and #23 in New Zealand in 1973-1974.

Helen Wheels

Said farewell to my last hotel, it never was much kind of abode
Glasgow town never brought me down when I was heading out on the road
Carlisle city never looked so pretty, and the kendal freeway is fast
Slow down driver, wanna stay alive, i wanna make this journey last

Helen! (Helen) Helen Wheels
Ain’t nobody else gonna know the way she feels
Helen! (Helen) Helen Wheels
And they never gonna take her away

M6 south down Liverpool, where they play the west coast sound
Sailor Sam, he came from Birmingham, but he never will be found
Doin’ fine when a London sign, greets me like a long lost friend
Mister motor won’t you check her out, she’s gotta take me back again

Helen! (Helen) Helen Wheels
Ain’t nobody else gonna know the way she feels
Helen! (Helen) Helen Wheels
And they never gonna take her away

Got no time for a rum and lime, i wanna get my right foot down;
Shake some dust off of this old bus, i gotta get her out of town
Spend the day upon the motorway, where the carburettors blast;
Slow down driver, wanna stay alive, i wanna make this journey last

Helen! (Helen) Helen Wheels
Ain’t nobody else gonna know the way she feels
Helen (Helen) Helen Wheels
And they never gonna take her away

Say bye-bye…