Recording "Cut Me Some Slack"

Early April 2012 • For Various Artists

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Sound City: Real to Reel Official album.
Studio 606 West, Northridge, Los Angeles, USA

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Dave Grohl, of Nirvana fame, had the idea of creating a documentary about the history of the Sound City recording studio in Los Angeles (where Nirvana recorded its album Nevermind in 1991). He invited various artists to record the soundtrack, including Paul McCartney.

Dave [Grohl] asked me to come along for a jam with some mates. Dave suggested maybe doing something like ‘Long Tall Sally’ but I thought maybe we should just make something up.

Paul McCartney – From For Whom The Bell Tells, December 31, 2012

Those mates happened to be former Nirvana members, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear.

One thing I love about what I do is that so much of it happens organically. I just knew Dave. He stood in for our drummer one day as he couldn’t play. It was a couple of years ago. Dave is a very likeable guy, super enthusiastic, he’s really on the ball. And he just bought this desk from Sound City and was making a documentary. He said what I want to do is have a couple of mates to come over to my studio – where he now installed his famous recording desk – and jam. And I’m gonna film it and make a documentary on the board. So I said “l don’t know about the board (from Sound City), but I’m happy to come over and jam”. So he said “Right, what are we going to do?”. He said, “Maybe we should do Long Tall Sally”. And I said, “Well I’ve done that, I don’t want to recreate something I have already done. Let’s just make something up.” So I showed up there with this crazy guitar a friend of mine has given me. It’s a cigar box guitar, but it

sounds like the hottest piece of kit on earth. You plug it in and it’s just fabulous… it just takes over, it’s amazing, it’s like it’s alive. And there was a little amp that came with it. Actually, Johnny Depp gave it to me. I was so excited by it, I took it over and I think Dave was a bit surprised. I think he thought I might play bass. He said I’ve got a couple of friends here. So I said, Okay let’s make something up.’ I started playing this guitar and Dave joined in and Krist and Pat joined in and we made the track, we made it up,

I started screaming “Mama” and just ad-libbed it like a jam and then I sat down with them and said “What do think about structure?” and Krist said “Structure is good!”. “Okay let’s just structure it”, so we said “This should be the verse, this should be the middle eight”. Then we did it again, but this time not as a jam but a little bit more structured. And it turned into “Cut Me Some Slack”. And then I heard these guys talking “It’s been like 20 years since we last played together” and it turned out to be the Nirvana guys and I must say that I didn’t realize that I was there in the middle of this Nirvana reunion. The organic aspect of just showing up for a jam and then we made this track it’s something a major label should have spent six months planning, but it just came out of the blue and I love that.”

Paul McCartney – from a BBC interview, February 2013

It was magic for me, playing with these guys. To tell you the truth, I didn’t kind of know who they were. … Then, during the session, I hear them talking: ‘Wow we haven’t played that since Nirvana.’ So I found myself in the middle of a Nirvana reunion, and I was very happy.

Paul McCartney – from Forbes, February 5, 2014

Dave had sent me an email asking if I wanted to record with Paul McCartney in L.A., and I said, ‘Dude, I’ll walk there from Washington if I have to.’ So I flew down and we were standing around figuring out what to do, and I kept thinking, please don’t make me play bass guitar, please don’t make me play bass. That’s like being asked to do karate with Bruce Lee – you’re going to get your ass kicked. ‘Yep, I’m going boxing. Who’s your sparring partner? Muhammad Ali. Good luck with that!’

So of course he asked me to play bass. Paul had this slide guitar that he was playing, and Dave was playing drums, but it wasn’t working for us. Then I realized we were playing in D, so I did the old grunge trick and I drop-tuned my bass to D. I played some riffs, and boom! Paul got into it, Pat Smear was feeling it, and Dave laid down some serious grooves. Then Paul shot me a riff and I shot him a riff and everything started clicking perfectly. We had the old band back together, and we had this cool left-handed guitarist, who was actually Paul McCartney, and he was doing vocals. I had to pinch myself. We ended up winning a Grammy for that song, too.

Krist Novoselic – From Guitar World, April 1, 2023

From For Whom The Bell Tells, December 31, 2012:

Along with Dave, Paul found himself jamming with Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear. “They were saying how good it felt to be back together. I said, ‘Whoa? You guys haven’t played together for all that time?’ Someone whispered to me, ‘That’s Nirvana’, I couldn’t believe it.”

Stuart Bell

Cut Me Some Slack” was the result of 3 hours of jam, with Paul McCartney playing a cigar box guitar and doing vocals.

We’ve jammed with each other before, and I called him up and very gently said, “Maybe if you have a day off in Los Angeles, come over and have a little jam. Maybe we could jam on some old classic song”. He was the one who said, “No, no, no. Let’s write a song. Let’s write and record a new song.”‘

Dave Grohl

We walked in; we jammed the song. It just came out of nowhere. The best songs happen that way. We recorded it live and put a vocal over it and that was it. It was three hours and it was perfect.

Dave Grohl – From NME, January 17, 2013

As Dave said, we only had three or four hours. It was an excuse for my wife and daughter to go over and visit their family and eat and play with the kids. We sneaked out. I blame Johnny Depp. He’d just given me this little cigar box guitar, which I was wildly excited about. So I took it along. They really are great to play with, because they’re a great band. They were a great band with Kurt. And I say that’s what I experienced on the day, just playing with a really good band. Which is a great privilege, a very special thing, and I should know.

Paul McCartney – talking to journalists at the Staples Center, when getting a Grammy Award for “Cut Me Some Slack”

Paul McCartney talking about the filming of the “My Valentine” promo video, and Johnny Depp giving him this cigar box guitar:

It was great having them round. Natalie came over with her husband and new baby, which was very lovely, very family. Johnny came over and he has a friend who makes guitars out of lots of things like cigar boxes and wine cases, and he brought over a wine case-bass for me. He also sent over a little cigar box amp and guitar which is fantastic and so we had a jam. And I had to stop and say we better do this film!

Paul McCartney – From For Whom The Bell Tells, December 31, 2012

Video recordings of this session appear on the “Sound City” documentary.

Paul McCartney would reunite with the ex-Nirvana to play “Cut Me Some Slack” live at the Concert For Sandy Relief (on December 12, 2012) and on July 19, 2013 at Seattle.

Last updated on April 29, 2023

Songs recorded




Paul McCartney:
Vocals, Cigar box guitar
Dave Grohl:
Drums, Backing vocals
Krist Novoselic:
Bass guitar
Pat Smear:

Production staff

James Brown:
John Lousteau:
Butch Vig:
Jim Scott:


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