The Paul McCartney Project

At The Mercy

Written by Paul McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Chaos and Creation in the Backyard Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 2005
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 2004 (Paul McCartney was 62 years old)

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions



Other songs Jason Falkner contributed to



Growing Up, Falling Down

Officially appears on Fine Line

Related interviews


He Can Work It Out

October 2005 • From Bass Player


Interview with Gary Crowley

July 2005 • From EMI

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Song facts

At The Mercy” is a track from Paul McCartney’s 2005 album “Chaos And Creation In The Backyard“. From an interview of Paul McCartney by Gary Crowley:

At the Mercy was one that I wrote on a day off in LA. Sometimes when you get into recording an album, you start to sort of get a feel of what you and the producer are going for and what kind of a new song might fit with what you’ve already recorded. So this one was just made up like on the Sunday when I  was having the weekend off. We’d worked all week. So on the Sunday I just sort of thought ‘Oh I’d like to take this in tomorrow’ and have a new completely new thing that he hadn’t heard that I hadn’t heard. Just very, very fresh. So I was just sort of messing around on the piano and I just got a couple of chords that I liked, slightly darker chords than I  might normally have. And this phrase just kept sort of coming.

A lot of people do this, when they’re writing, they just let anything happen, so that it can be “Scrambled Eggs, Baby o var, Baby’s legs Oh no ver, Man of here, Man of Fire” and you just suddenly go ‘Ooh Man of Fire that could be a direction you know’ and with me it just came ‘At the Mercy, At the Mercy‘ At the Mercy of what? At the mercy of a busy road. At the mercy of a busy road and I didn’t really attach any significance to it but one of the things that I like about my songs when I’ve written them is you can attach very specific significances to them. I was talking to Heather about that particular one and she said ‘Whoa! For me at the mercy of a busy road.’ Remember she lost her leg in an accident. You know that’s very appropriate. So that’s the kind of thing I was thinking of that how life can throw you a curveball, suddenly you’re going along and then suddenly ‘Oh no!’  and it’s a similar scene to Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Only that was like a comedy dark black comedy based on that idea: you never know what’s round the corner kind of thing.

So At The Mercy was that and I took it in to Nigel next day and  said ‘What do you think of this?’ And he said ‘Oh great, great.’ It became his favourite, you know. So we just worked on it and that was it and I erm,  It was basically that it was finding a couple of chords that were kind of dark enough to get this sort of message that life can throw you curve balls and what do we do about it? Oh well I don’t know just keep on resolute, whatever you do.

Paul McCartney – from 2005 UK promotional-only interview CD, recorded July 2005 at Air Studios in London

Paul McCartney in "Conversations With McCartney", by Paul Du Noyer:

It was a case of just letting it come into me. I still don’t know what I was trying to get at. But I don’t mind that in a song. I like that because the audience can decide. ‘We can watch the universe explode.’ It means everything without meaning anything. You know what it means. ‘At the mercy of a busy day…’ I like to be on the cusp of meaning. I’m not quite sure what it means, but I really know what it means. That’s an interesting area.

From the beginning of the recording sessions of “Chaos And Creation In The Backyard“, Nigel Godrich, the producer of the album, made it clear to Paul McCartney that he wanted him out of his comfort zone :

The third session, he came back and played me a song, and I was like, ‘Fucking hell, that’s so much better.’ That was At The Mercy. He said, ‘I think I’m remembering how to do this!’ Maybe he was expressing the concept of having to better what he’s doing because someone was going to look at him and say, ‘Not sure,’ rather than just blindly taking everything that he proffers.

Nigel Godrich

Last updated on January 17, 2021

Lyrics

At the mercy
At the mercy
At the mercy of a busy road
Who can handle such a heavy load

At the mercy
At the mercy
At the mercy of a busy day
We can think of nothing more to say

If you show me love
I won't refuse
I know you'd never make me choose
Between the love I've got
And the love I'd lose

Sometimes I'd rather run and hide
Than stay and face the fear inside

At the mercy
At the mercy
At the mercy of a busy day
Who can bear to turn their head away

At the mercy
At the mercy
At the mercy of a busy road
We can watch the universe explode

If you take me up
I won't say no
I guess you'd rather see me grow
Into a better man than the one you know

Sometimes my head is hanging low
But it's time to get on with the show

At the mercy
At the mercy
At the mercy of a busy day
I can think of nothing more to say

Officially appears on


Chaos And Creation In The Backyard (Special Edition)

Official album

2:38 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
B3 organ, Cello, Fender telecaster electric guitar, Hofner bass, Mass vibrachimes, Steinway grand piano, Tambourine, Vocals
Millennia Ensemble :
Strings and brass
Nigel Godrich :
Producer
Jason Falkner :
Electric guitar
James Gadson :
Drums
Darrell Thorp :
Engineer
Joby Talbot :
Orchestra conductor, String arrangement
Dan Grech-Marguerat :
Production assistant

Session Recording:
April 2004
Studio :
Ocean Way Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA

Session Overdubs:
September 2004
Studio :
AIR Studios Lyndhurst, London, UK

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


Chaos And Creation In The Backyard (Special Edition)

Official album

Video • Instrumental version


Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Official album • Released in 2005

2:38 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
B3 organ, Cello, Fender telecaster electric guitar, Hofner bass, Mass vibrachimes, Steinway grand piano, Tambourine, Vocals
Millennia Ensemble :
Strings and brass
Nigel Godrich :
Producer
Jason Falkner :
Electric guitar
James Gadson :
Drums
Darrell Thorp :
Engineer
Joby Talbot :
Orchestra conductor, String arrangement
Dan Grech-Marguerat :
Production assistant

Session Recording:
April 2004
Studio :
Ocean Way Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA

Session Overdubs:
September 2004
Studio :
AIR Studios Lyndhurst, London, UK

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


Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (Japanese edition)

Official album • Released in 2005

2:38 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
B3 organ, Cello, Fender telecaster electric guitar, Hofner bass, Mass vibrachimes, Steinway grand piano, Tambourine, Vocals
Millennia Ensemble :
Strings and brass
Nigel Godrich :
Producer
Jason Falkner :
Electric guitar
James Gadson :
Drums
Darrell Thorp :
Engineer
Joby Talbot :
Orchestra conductor, String arrangement
Dan Grech-Marguerat :
Production assistant

Session Recording:
April 2004
Studio :
Ocean Way Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA

Session Overdubs:
September 2004
Studio :
AIR Studios Lyndhurst, London, UK

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

Bootlegs


Acoustic

Unofficial album

2:34 • Outtake


Chronicles in the Backyard Disc 4

Unofficial album • Released in 2006

2:35 • Studio version • Instrumental version


Chaos And Creation In The Backyard - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2015

2:38 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
B3 organ, Cello, Fender telecaster electric guitar, Hofner bass, Mass vibrachimes, Steinway grand piano, Tambourine, Vocals
Millennia Ensemble :
Strings and brass
Nigel Godrich :
Producer
Jason Falkner :
Electric guitar
James Gadson :
Drums
Darrell Thorp :
Engineer
Joby Talbot :
Orchestra conductor, String arrangement
Dan Grech-Marguerat :
Production assistant

Session Recording:
April 2004
Studio :
Ocean Way Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA

Session Overdubs:
September 2004
Studio :
AIR Studios Lyndhurst, London, UK

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


Chaos And Creation In The Backyard - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2015

2:38 • Studio version • At The Mercy [instrumental]

Live performances

“At The Mercy” has been played in 1 concerts.

Latest concerts where At The Mercy has been played


Sold On Song

Jul 27, 2005 • United Kingdom • London • Abbey Road Studios • Radio show


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