Recording "Say Say Say", "The Man"

May 1981 • For Paul McCartney

Part of

Tug Of War sessions at AIR Studios, London

March 11, 1981 - March 1982 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Tug Of War

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Pipes Of Peace Official album.
AIR Studios, London, UK
Odyssey Studios, London

Master release

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In May 1981, Michael Jackson traveled to UK, to collaborate with Paul McCartney. They wrote and started recording “Say Say Say” and “The Man” which would appear on the 1983 album “Pipes Of Peace“.

Michael rang up, and said he wanted to work together. I said, ‘What do you mean?’ […] He said, ‘I wanna make some hits, you know?’ I said, ‘Sounds good.’ So he came over.

We sat around upstairs in my office in London, I grabbed a guitar and ‘Say, Say, Say’ came out of that. He helped with a lot of the words. It’s not a very wordy song, but it was fun working with him because he’s enthusiastic. But again it’s nothing like working with John. At that stage with Michael, you weren’t even talking about a writer, more just a vocalist and a dancer. But he said, ‘Let’s make a couple of hits’, and that’s exactly what we did.

Paul McCartney, from Conversations with McCartney, by Paul Du Noyer

I first heard from Michael when he phoned me over the Christmas holiday season in 1980 and my initial reaction
was ‘who is this and how did he get my private telephone number?’. Michael laughed and explained who it was and, as we talked and I asked him why he was ringing, he said ‚’Do you wanna make some hits?’ and that was the start of our adventure together. He came over to England with his close friend and minder, Billy and they visited our house in the country many times as Michael and I put together the ideas for our songs together. First of all, we came up with and
finished an idea for a song I had started which became Say Say Say. We recorded in Air Studios, London with George Martin producing and eventually went to California to make the video for the song. Funnily enough, I was staying at the ranch that Michael later bought and made into Neverland.

Paul McCartney, from, July 4, 2009
Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson, Sussex UK, May 1981. Michael wearing a “McCartney Japanese Tour 1980” jacket

In October 2014, Bill Wolfer, the keyboard player on the song, was the first to share his recollection of the making of Say Say Say. He related how Michael Jackson called to ask him to make a finished demo using a cassette on which he and Paul McCartney had recorded their two voices plus a single guitar line. […]

From Michael Jackson: All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track, By François Allard, Richard Lecocq

Last updated on May 13, 2020

Songs recorded



The Man

Written by Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson


Going further

Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989

With 25 albums of pop music, 5 of classical – a total of around 500 songs – released over the course of more than half a century, Paul McCartney's career, on his own and with Wings, boasts an incredible catalogue that's always striving to free itself from the shadow of The Beatles. The stories behind the songs, demos and studio recordings, unreleased tracks, recording dates, musicians, live performances and tours, covers, events: Music Is Ideas Volume 1 traces McCartney's post-Beatles output from 1970 to 1989 in the form of 346 song sheets, filled with details of the recordings and stories behind the sessions. Accompanied by photos, and drawing on interviews and contemporary reviews, this reference book draws the portrait of a musical craftsman who has elevated popular song to an art-form.

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Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium

We owe a lot to Chip Madinger and Mark Easter for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details!

Eight Arms To Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium is the ultimate look at the careers of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr beyond the Beatles. Every aspect of their professional careers as solo artists is explored, from recording sessions, record releases and tours, to television, film and music videos, including everything in between. From their early film soundtrack work to the officially released retrospectives, all solo efforts by the four men are exhaustively examined.

As the paperback version is out of print, you can buy a PDF version on the authors' website

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