Paul and Linda McCartney on holiday in Jamaica

Early December 1971
Timeline More from year 1971
Montego Bay, Jamaica

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Early December 1971, Paul, Linda and their children flew to Jamaica for some time off. Here, they discovered and fell in love with reggae music, which inspired Linda to write her first song, “Seaside Woman“.

We were up in Scotland and I was painting the big corrugated – iron roof. During that time, Linda had bought some of the first reggae records that hit Britain, Tighten Up, and she’d play them downstairs while I was painting the roof. We both loved the music and going to Jamaica became our big ambition. When we did, we really fell in love with it: the country, the people, the music, the lifestyle, the weather. We spent weeks there, soaking up a lot of reggae – it was the start of rap but they used to call it toasting. There was a radio station called rjr that played reggae all day long, and a little shop in Montego Bay called Tony’s Record Store where we used to sift through all the 45s. It reminded us of the 1950s. We’d buy them by the titles – one record was called Poison Pressure by Lennon-McCartney. I thought, ‘Oh yeah? This is interesting.’ It was no song I’d ever had a part in, nor John. Maybe we weren’t the only Lennon-McCartney in the world, though – perhaps it was Moses Lennon and Winston McCartney.

Paul McCartney – From “Wingspan: Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run“, 2002

Fantastic. They’ve got singles down there! It’s like the ’50s. It’s just fantastic music. And all the kids… It’s so loose down there, all the kids blast it like in Montego Bay. At every corner, they’re playing reggae. I love reggae. My favourite.

Linda McCartney – From Wingspan documentary, 2001

The whole reggae thing was so free and young and new and fresh. We came in the studio, and influenced by that she wrote her first song, which was Seaside Woman. It was based on the Jamaican experience.

Paul McCartney – From Wingspan documentary, 2001

Because of all the business troubles at Apple we really didn’t have much money. Well, I had some but I couldn’t get at it because it was frozen. But Linda had some savings from her photography so we were able to live on that for a while. We always used to say that if all the money went, if we became broke, then we’d go to Jamaica and live in a little shack. After our first visit to Jamaica, Linda wrote her first song, Seaside Woman. We cut a demo and I played drums. I didn’t have a snare drum, though, so I used a couple of ropes. Again, that’s why we called it our ‘funky period’ – it was all improvised. The harmonies on tracks like Seaside Woman became central to Wings. That sound was slightly different to what anyone else was doing. Elton John said he really loved our harmonies, and when I later worked with Michael Jackson he asked for Linda to be on the harmonies. Our voices did blend very well together.

Paul McCartney – From “Wingspan: Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run“, 2002

Looking at all those reggae 45s, Paul and Linda found out that many of the B-sides contained dubs of the backing tracks without any vocals, and those were usually labelled “version”. They would use this tactic, when recording Wings’ first non-album single, “Give Ireland Back To The Irish” in February 1972.

Bluebird”, released on the 1973 album “Band On The Run”, was reportedly composed by McCartney in 1971, during his holiday in Jamaica.

We wrote it in Jamaica when we were on holiday. 

Paul McCartney – From interview with Disc Magazine, 1973

From Twitter – Paul in Jamaica, 1971. Photo by Linda McCartney #FBF #FlashbackFriday

Last updated on September 20, 2023

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