The Paul McCartney Project

All Those Years Ago

Written by George Harrison

Album This song officially appears on the All Those Years Ago / Writings On The Wall 7" Single.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1981

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions


Related songs


Here Today

Officially appears on Tug Of War

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

“All Those Years Ago” is a song by English musician George Harrison, released in May 1981 as a single from his album Somewhere in England. Having previously recorded the music for the song, Harrison tailored the lyrics to serve as a personal tribute to his former Beatles bandmate John Lennon, following the latter’s murder in 1980. Ringo Starr is featured on drums, and Paul McCartney (along with his Wings bandmates Linda McCartney and Denny Laine), overdubbed backing vocals onto the basic track. The single spent three weeks at number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number 13 on the UK Singles Chart. It also topped Canada’s RPM singles chart and spent one week at number 1 on Billboard‘s Adult Contemporary listings.

“All Those Years Ago” was the first recording on which Harrison, McCartney and Starr all appeared since the Beatles’ “I Me Mine” (1970), and their last recording together until “Free As a Bird” (1995). Other musicians performing on the track include Al Kooper and Ray Cooper. The song has appeared on the Harrison compilations Best of Dark Horse 1976–1989 and Let It Roll, and a live version recorded in 1991 with Eric Clapton was included on Harrison’s Live in Japan double album. In 2010, AOL Radio listeners voted “All Those Years Ago” in sixth place on a list of the “10 Best George Harrison Songs”. The track has been featured in the books 1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download by Robert Dimery, and Bruce Pollock’s The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944–2000.

Origins

Prior to Lennon’s death, Harrison originally wrote the song with different lyrics for Ringo Starr to record. Although he recorded it, Starr felt the vocal was too high for his range and disliked the lyrics. Harrison took the track back and, after Lennon’s death, the lyrics were changed to reflect a tribute to him. In the song, Harrison makes reference to the Beatles song “All You Need Is Love” and the Lennon song “Imagine” (“you were the one who Imagined it all”).

Band line-up

The recording of the song featured all three remaining Beatles (Harrison, Starr and Paul McCartney), though this was expressly a Harrison single. It is one of only a few non-Beatles songs to feature three members of the band. Harrison and Starr recorded the song at Harrison’s Friar Park studio between 19 November and 25 November 1980. After Lennon’s death the following month, Harrison removed Starr’s vocals (but left Starr’s drumming track) and recorded his own vocals with rewritten lyrics honouring Lennon. McCartney, his wife Linda and their Wings bandmate Denny Laine visited Friar Park to record backing vocals. The lineup was rounded out by Al Kooper on keyboards, Herbie Flowers on bass and percussionist Ray Cooper. The album’s liner notes also thank the Beatles’ former producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick. Harrison co-produced the recording with percussionist Ray Cooper.

Music video

The music video features a slide show-type presentation of stills and short archival video clips. The emphasis is on Lennon and, to a lesser degree, Harrison. The post-Beatles stills of Lennon at older ages are countered with stills of Harrison from the same time frame. […]

Last updated on January 27, 2020

Lyrics

I'm shouting all about live while they treated you like a dog
When you were the one who had made it so clear, all those years ago
I'm talking all about how to give, they don't act with much honesty
But you point the way to the truth when you say, all you need is love

Living with good and bad, I always looked up to you
Now we're left cold and sad by someone, the devil's best friend
Someone who offended all, we're living in a bad dream
They've forgotten all about mankind and you were the one
They backed up to the wall

All those years ago, you were the one who imagined it all
All those years ago, all those years ago, all those years ago

Deep in the darkest night, I send out a prayer to you
Now in the world of light where the spirit free of the lies
And all else that we despised, they've forgotten all about God
He's the only reason we exist, yet you were the one
That they said was so weird

All those years ago, you said it all though not many had ears
All those years ago, you had control of our smiles and our tears
All those years ago, all those years ago, all those years ago

Officially appears on


Somewhere in England

Official album • Released in 1981

3:42 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Denny Laine :
Backing vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Electric guitars, Producer, Synthesizer, Vocals
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer
Herbie Flowers :
Bass
Ray Cooper :
Producer, Tambourine
Al Kooper :
Electric piano

Recording :
November 19th-25, 1980
Studio :
Friar Park, Henley-on-Thames, UK

Session Overdubs:
March / April 1981 ?
Studio :
Friar Park Studio, Henley-on-Thames, UK


All Those Years Ago / Writings On The Wall

7" Single • Released in 1981

3:42 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Denny Laine :
Backing vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Electric guitars, Producer, Synthesizer, Vocals
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer
Herbie Flowers :
Bass
Ray Cooper :
Producer, Tambourine
Al Kooper :
Electric piano

Recording :
November 19th-25, 1980
Studio :
Friar Park, Henley-on-Thames, UK

Session Overdubs:
March / April 1981 ?
Studio :
Friar Park Studio, Henley-on-Thames, UK


All Those Years Ago

7" Single • Released in 1981

3:42 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Denny Laine :
Backing vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Electric guitars, Producer, Synthesizer, Vocals
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer
Herbie Flowers :
Bass
Ray Cooper :
Producer, Tambourine
Al Kooper :
Electric piano

Recording :
November 19th-25, 1980
Studio :
Friar Park, Henley-on-Thames, UK

Session Overdubs:
March / April 1981 ?
Studio :
Friar Park Studio, Henley-on-Thames, UK


All Those Years Ago

7" Single • Released in 1981

3:42 • Studio versionA1 • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Denny Laine :
Backing vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Electric guitars, Producer, Synthesizer, Vocals
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer
Herbie Flowers :
Bass
Ray Cooper :
Producer, Tambourine
Al Kooper :
Electric piano

Recording :
November 19th-25, 1980
Studio :
Friar Park, Henley-on-Thames, UK

Session Overdubs:
March / April 1981 ?
Studio :
Friar Park Studio, Henley-on-Thames, UK

Bootlegs


Meet The Threetles

Unofficial album

3:50 • Rough mixA2 • Enhanced mix


Anthology Sessions

Unofficial album • Released in 2003

3:43 • Rough mixA2 • Enhanced Mix

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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