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January 1967

The Family Way

By Paul McCartney


  • UK release date: Jan 06, 1967

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The Family Way (Original Soundtrack Album)” is the soundtrack to the 1966 film “The Family Way”, directed by Roy Boulting and starring Hayley Mills. It was composed by Paul McCartney and produced and arranged by George Martin. 

The directors, the Boulting Brothers, actually approached me – one of them, Roy – and he was interested in some of the music we’ve been writing. He said, ‘Would you be interested in actually writing something for film?’ I said, ‘Wow, great honour.’ And they’re very good directors, quite famous English directors, so I knew they’d be good and the film would be good, and a very good cast with John Mills and Hayley Mills and Hywell Bennett. So I said, ‘Yeah, okay!’

Paul McCartney – From Paul McCartney: The Family Way soundtrack – facts, recording info and more! | The Beatles Bible

It was most unglamorous really. I rang our Nems office and said I would like to write a film theme, not a score, just a theme. John was away filming [How I Won The War] so I had time to do it. Nems fixed it for me to do the theme of The Family Way.

Paul McCartney – From New Musical Express – December 24, 1966

If you are blessed with the ability to write music, you can turn your hand to various forms. I’ve always admired people for whom it’s a craft – the great songwriting partners of the past, such as Rodgers and Hammerstein, or Cole Porter. I’ve admired the fact that they can write a musical and they can do a film score.

So film scores were an interesting diversion for me, and with George Martin being able to write and orchestrate – and being pretty good at it – I got an offer through the Boulting Brothers for him and me to do some film music for The Family Way.

I had a look at the film and thought it was great. I still do. It’s very powerful and emotional – soppy, but good for its time. I wanted brassband music; because with The Beatles we got into a lot of different kinds of music, but maybe brass band was a little too Northern and ‘Hovis’. I still loved it. My dad had played trumpet and his dad had been in a brass band, so I had those leanings. For the film I got something together that was sort of ‘brassy bandy’, to echo the Northernness of the story, and I had a great time.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

In October 1966, the British magazine New Musical Express reported that John Lennon and Paul McCartney would collaborate on the score, following John’s return from filming “How I Won The War” in Spain. However, John never really worked on it (even if George Martin explained he “advised a bit“), and therefore it is considered the first solo effort by Paul McCartney, as it was the first time Paul didn’t share the credits with John.

When he returns from filming in Spain next month, John Lennon will help is songwriting partner Paul McCartney to score the new Hayley Mills film, All In Good Time … The picture’s alternative working title of Wedlocked has now been dropped, the producers having settled on All In Good Time. Paul is believed to be already working on the music.

New Musical Express – October 1966

John was visiting and advised a bit, but Paul created the tune and played it to me on guitar. I listened and wrote it down. It is a fragile, yet compelling, melody. I arranged it for woodwinds and strings and we called it ‘Love In The Open Air.’ It’s quite haunting.

George Martin – From New Musical Express – December 24, 1966

[The Family Way soundtrack] was actually the first time you would officially compose outside the Lennon-McCartney tandem.

Yes, and you know, it’s funny. That’s true. It’s funny because talking to Yoko recently, you know, you talk about all these things that happen way back in history. It turns out John was not pleased; but I didn’t know ‘til a year ago that he wasn’t pleased. He always told me, “Fine.” ‘Cause he’d been acting in a film – he did a film called How I Won The War – so we started to do little solo thing, just for a change, just for a break, and so I assumed, I asked him, “Is it okay with you?” He said, “Yeah, fine, fine.”

But Yoko told me that he was actually a little bit put off by that, because he hoped probably that I would say Lennon-McCartney will write this together. But to me it seemed a good opportunity to get away of what I did normally. But Yoko just told me apparently John was a little bit hurt about that. Which is sad. But we did actually talk about it. He just never told me at that time. He probably just covered up.

Paul McCartney – Interview with Michel Laverdière, May 23, 1995

For me, it was very interesting, because it allowed me just something on my own. It was quite good to just get away. I think, if I had known that John was disturbed by it, I would have just asked him to join me, and we could have done it. There would not have been a problem. But I like the idea of doing something solo, just for a change, because everything we did was a four-headed monster. Wherever we went, there were four Beatles. We looked the same, we dressed the same and we sang the same, so it was quite nice to get away.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

I copped money for The Family Way, the music that Paul wrote when I was out of the country filming How I Won The War. I said, ‘You’d better keep that.’ He said, ‘Don’t be soft!’ It’s the concept. We inspired each other so much in the early days. We wrote how we write now because of each other.

John Lennon – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

However, Paul’s contribution to the soundtrack was minimal. Sometimes in October 1966, before going on holiday in France, he wrote 15 seconds of music for the film’s main theme. When he came back from his safari trip in Kenya in late November, he wrote another bit, the film’s love theme which would be known as “Love In The Open Air“.

[George Martin] is the interpreter. I play themes and chords on piano or guitar, he gets it down on paper. I talk about the idea I have for instrumentation. Then he works out the arrangement. I tried to learn music once with a fellow who’s a great teacher. But it got too much like homework. I have some block about seeing it in little black dots on paper. It’s like Braille to me.

Paul McCartney – Interview with Sunday Times, 1966

I went to America for a time and on returning [November 21, 1966?] realised we needed a love theme for the centre of the picture, something wistful. I told Paul and he said he’d compose something. I waited, but nothing materialised, and finally I had to go round to Paul’s house and literally stand there till he’d composed something.

John was visiting and advised a bit, but Paul created the tune and played it to me on guitar. I listened and wrote it down. It is a fragile, yet compelling, melody. I arranged it for woodwinds and strings and we called it ‘Love In The Open Air.’ It’s quite haunting.

George Martin – Interview with New Musical Express, December 24, 1966

From there, George Martin wrote the score to extend those two themes to a 24-minute-long soundtrack.

Recording sessions

The book “Eight Arms To Hold You” by Chip Madinger and Mark Easter places the recording sessions for the soundtrack in early December 1966.

Composition of ‘Love In The Open Air’ was not completed until after Paul returned from an extended vacation to France, Spain and Kenya. Martin took away the melody, this time arranging it for woodwind and strings. Five sessions at CTS Studios followed, spread over the course of three days and nights, all in the midst of recording the Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

From “Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium” by Chip Madinger and Mark Easter

Steve Turner, in the book “Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year“, gives some indications about the session players who contributed to this session:

Martin then subjected the composition to enough repeats, variations, and restatements to fill out twenty-four minutes of a recording. This was later recorded at CTS Studios over three days by the George Martin Orchestra (actually a collection of session musicians including Neville Marriner and Raymond Keenlyside on violins, John Underwood on viola, and Joy Hall on cello), but Paul took the composer’s credit.

If the reference “all in the midst of recording the Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’” is right, this suggests the music for “The Family Way” was completed 10 days before the film’s premiere on December 18, 1966.

If it sounds like it was done in a hurry, it’s because it was done in a hurry.

George Martin – From “The Daily Mirror”

Album releases

The album, titled “The Family Way (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)“, was released in the UK on January 6, 1967, by Decca (in mono and stereo). London Records released it in the US on June 12, 1967 (also in mono and stereo).

In 1995, “Love In The Open Air” was recreated as a classical suite for guitar and flute by Carl Aubut, a classical guitarist from Quebec, and the Claudel String Quartet. This recreation was given the approval of Paul McCartney and George Martin.

In 2000, some other variations of “Love In The Open Air” were recorded by the quartet La Flûte Enchantée and released on the album “Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool“. The liner notes mentioned: “Recording suggested and authorized by Sir Paul McCartney“.

The soundtrack was remastered from the original stereo master tapes, and re-released in 2011 on CD by the Californian label Varèse Sarabande. The same remasters were re-released on vinyl in 2015.

7″ releases

In the UK, Decca purchased the musical rights to the film and decided to release a single in addition to the album. But George Martin had also planned to release a single through EMI. A compromise was found. The Decca single, which was scheduled to be released on December 15, was pushed back for a week. George Martin recorded his own version of the two themes on December 15. The two singles were released on December 23, 1966, and were commercial failures.

For the US release, and considering the poor performance of the singles in the UK, United Artists requested a more up-tempo version of “Love In The Open Air“, which was recorded in early February 1967 and was also a commercial failure.

Ivor Novello Award

In May 1968, Paul won his first solo Ivor Novello award for “Best Instrumental Theme” for “Love In The Open Air“.

We got an Ivor Novello Award for the score – for the best film song that year, a piece called ‘Love In The Open Air’, which Johnny Mercer was nearly going to put lyrics to, but I didn’t know who he was. Later I realised, ‘Oh, that Johnny Mercer! You mean the greatest lyricist on the planet!’ I should have done that. Never mind – it fell through – but it was good fun doing the music.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

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