3 Legs

Written by Paul McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Ram Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1971
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

Songs recorded the same day

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Song facts

From Beatles Bible:

Seemingly written about his feelings about The Beatles and his new-found freedom, 3 Legs was the second song on Paul and Linda McCartney’s 1971 album Ram.

While John Lennon and, to a lesser extent, George Harrison, were happy to write openly about The Beatles, Apple and their associated troubles, Paul McCartney preferred to couch his objections in metaphors and ambiguities. So, while it is tempting to see 3 Legs simply as an allegory for his transition from Beatle to solo artist and family man, it is far from certain.

Studio engineer Eirik Wangberg said the song was inspired by a picture drawn by the young Heather McCartney. Her father originally titled the song A Dog Is Here, according to his handwritten lyric sheet.

Regardless of his intentions, McCartney would have known that lines such as “When I thought you was my friend/But you let me down/Put my heart around the bend” and “My dog he got three legs/But he can’t run” would be analysed by legions of Beatles-watchers the world over. And he cannot have failed to recognise that the lines would be interpreted as a commentary on his former band.

Perhaps ironically, Lennon professed a liking for the song, listing it as one of the better recordings on Ram.

I thought it [Ram] was awful! McCartney was better because at least there were some tunes on it, like Junk. I liked the beginning of Ram On, the beginning of Uncle Albert and I liked some of My Dog’s Got Three Legs. I liked the little bit about ‘Hands across the water’, but it just tripped off all the time. I didn’t like that a bit!” John Lennon […]

3 Legs was one of the last songs in the Ram sessions on which guitarist David Spinozza played. Soon after he was replaced with Hugh McCracken.

There’s one track, which a cute thing, a blues tune, which I had fun doing. 3 Legs, it’s called. We both played acoustic and sometimes Paul played piano but never played bass while we were there. He overdubbed the bass later. It was a bit weird, because bass, drums, and guitar would have been more comfortable.” Dave Spinoza, guitarist

Two promotional films for Ram songs – 3 Legs and Heart Of The Country – were made in support of Ram. They were produced by McCartney and edited by Ray Benson, who had previously worked on the Magical Mystery Tour film.

The film for 3 Legs consisted of the McCartneys riding horses on their land in the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland. Both clips were screened on the BBC’s Top Of The Pops on 24 June 1971.

In 2001, during the “Wingspan Memorial Day Special”, Paul improved the song on guitar.

Last updated on March 15th, 2015

Lyrics

Well, when I walk when I walk,
Park my horse upon the hill (when I walk the horse upon a hill)

When I walk, walk, walk, walk,
Park my horse upon the hill (when I walk the horse upon a hill)
And I lay me down,
Will my lover love me still?

A doggie is here, (a doggie is here), a doggie is there (a doggie is there)
My dog he got three legs, well he can't run

Well, when I thought, when I thought, when I thought
You was my friend
Well, when I thought, when I thought, when I thought
You was my friend


My dog he got three legs but he can't walk
Your dog he got none.
Your dog he got none.

When I thought,
When I thought you was my friend (when I thought that I could call you my friend)
When I thought, when I thought, when I thought you was my friend
(When I thought I could call you my friend)
But you let me down put my heart around the bend

A fly flies in (a fly flies in), a fly flies out (a fly flies out)
Most flies they got three legs, but mine got one.
Well, when I fly, when I fly, when I fly, when I fly upon the crowd
(When I fly upon the maddening crowd)
When I fly, when I fly, when I fly, when I fly upon the crowd
(When I fly upon the maddening crowd)

You can knock me down - with a feather, but you know it's not allowed
(but you know it's not allowed)

A dog is here, (a dog is here) A dog is there, (a dog is there)
My dog he got three legs but he can't run.

Officially appears on


Ram

Official album • Released in 1971

2:52 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals, Producer
Denny Seiwell:
Drums
Dave Spinoza:
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg:
Mixing

Recording:
Oct 16, 1970
Studio:
CBS Studios, New York. Then Sound Recorders Studios, Los Angeles for overdubs

Overdubs:
March-April, 1971
Studio:
Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Thrillington

Official album • Released in 1977

3:42 • Studio versionD • Instrumental version

Percy "Thrills" Thrillington:
Producer
Richard Hewson:
Arrangements, Orchestration
Tony Clark:
Mixing, Recording
Vic Flick:
Guitar
Clem Cattini:
Drums
Herbie Flowers:
Bass
Steve Grey:
Piano
Roger Coulan:
Organ
Jim Lawless:
Percussion

Recording:
June, 15th-18th 1971
Studio:
Abbey Road Studios, London


Ram (1993)

Official album • Released in 1993

2:52 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Recording:
Oct 16, 1970
Studio:
CBS Studios, New York. Then Sound Recorders Studios, Los Angeles for overdubs

Overdubs:
March-April, 1971
Studio:
Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013) on Amazon


Ram - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2012

2:48 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals, Producer
Denny Seiwell:
Drums
Dave Spinoza:
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg:
Mixing

Recording:
Oct 16, 1970
Studio:
CBS Studios, New York. Then Sound Recorders Studios, Los Angeles for overdubs

Recording:
March-April, 1971
Studio:
Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles


Ram - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2012

2:50 • Studio versionB • Mono • Remastered Mono album

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals, Producer
Denny Seiwell:
Drums
Dave Spinoza:
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg:
Mixing

Ram - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2012

3:42 • Studio version • Instrumental version from Thrillington remastered album

Percy "Thrills" Thrillington:
Producer
Richard Hewson:
Arrangements, Orchestration
Tony Clark:
Mixing, Recording

Bootlegs


The Alternate Ram

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

2:44 • Alternate takeB • Original mono promo LP, especially made for the American AM stations. All the songs have different mixes

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals, Producer
Denny Seiwell:
Drums
Dave Spinoza:
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg:
Mixing

Together On Stage: "Adopt-A-Minefield"

Unofficial live • Released in 2001

1:19 • Radio showC • Acoustic version from 'Wingspan Memorial Day Special' in February 2001


MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol.25

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

1:15 • Radio showC • Acoustic version from 'Wingspan Memorial Day Special' in February 2001


The Alternate Ram

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

1:17 • Radio showC • Acoustic version from 'Wingspan Memorial Day Special' in February 2001


Ram - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2015

2:48 • Studio version


Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.

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