The Paul McCartney Project

Album This song officially appears on the Once Upon A Long Ago #1 7" Single.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1987
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

Back On My Feet” was the first released song from the songwriting collaboration between Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello ; it was issued as the B-Side of the “Once Upon A Long Ago” single, in 1987.

In an interview with MOJO in 2011, Elvis Costello gives some details how their partnership began, and about the first two songs recorded –¬†“Back On My Feet” and “Veronica“:

The Attractions played the last ever Wings show, at the Kampuchea benefit in 1979. I think that might have been the first time I met Paul. A couple of years later, I was making Imperial Bedroom at AIR [in London’s Oxford Street, while he was making Pipes Of Peace. [Beatle engineer] Geoff Emerick was working on both and flitting between the two studios. I saw Paul occasionally, as you do in those multiple studio things, enough to get over the fact that he was Paul from the Beatles. It was friendly. It was just a guy going to work, doing his job.

It was his manager of the time who suggested we write together. I took a train down to his studio near Rye and we just went to work. We brought bits and pieces of songs we had been working on that weren’t quite complete. He had one called Back On My Feet. That was pretty much written. I just sort of made a couple of suggestions, if that’s not too absurd an idea! Truthfully, Veronica [1989 single] was the same. It was pretty much written, but there were a couple of key things that he suggested that made it better.

From Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello:

We then worked on a beautiful melody that Paul had brought in to our first writing session. “Back on My Feet” developed into a song about a holy fool or hapless vagabond whom people either pity or pass by. I added just a few details to the lyrics, mostly cinematic directions to change the point of view, and a countermelody, in which the words of an unsympathetic chorus of onlookers could be heard:

Well there you go, though we tried hard to know him
It’s there on his face
He’s a case where there’s clearly no hope

It was the first of our cowritten songs to make it onto a record, and even though it was just the B-side of Paul’s “Once Upon a Long Ago” single, I remember getting a copy in the mail and staring at the writing credit on the label with something like disbelief.

Last updated on March 29, 2017

Lyrics

How many days will the wet weather last?
I want know will the clouds
When they roll back
Reveal a man in an old mac
Living on a park bench
Sitting on his own?

Cut the rain as it runs down the glass
Eventually through the lightning and thunder
We see a man going under
This is how it happens
This is what he said

I don't need love
Though temptation is sweet
Give me your hand
'Til I'm back on me feet
You're always telling me about my misery
I've seen things you will never see
Don't pity me

Focus in on the breath of a man
Who takes a brown paper bag
From his knapsack
Between his whispers and wise cracks
He's looking for permission
Screaming at the sky

I don't need love
Though temptation is sweet
Give me your hand
'Til I'm back on me feet
You're always telling me about my misery
I've seen things you will never see
Don't pity me

I'll be right again
Be upright without you
I'll stand up again
Kick up a fuss again too

Cut back again to a girl walking by
Until the feet that are all shoes and no socks
Climb an invisible soap box
Laughing at the traffic
Shouting at the world

I don't need love
Though temptation is sweet
Give me your hand
'Til I'm back on me feet
You're always telling me about my misery
I've seen things you will never see
Don't pity me

I'll stand up again
Kick up a fuss again too
I'll be right again
Be upright without you

We see a life through the eyes of a man
As he live and he dies
By a simple tattoo

I'll be back again
When I land on my feet
I'll stand up again
Kick up a fuss again, wouldn't you

Well there you go, though we tried hard to know him
It's there on his face
He's a case where there's clearly no hope

Give me your hand again
'Til I land again

His face starts to fade
As we pull down the shade
And the picture we made
Is in glorious cinemascope

I'll be back...

Officially appears on


Once Upon A Long Ago #1

7" Single • Released in 1987

4:25 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals
Jon Jacobs:
Recording engineer
Tim Renwick:
Electric guitar
Nick Glennie-Smith:
Keyboards
Charlie Morgan:
Drums
Phil Ramone:
Producer
Steve Lyon:
Assistant recording engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1987
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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


Once Upon a Long Ago #2

12" Single • Released in 1987

4:25 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals
Jon Jacobs:
Recording engineer
Tim Renwick:
Electric guitar
Nick Glennie-Smith:
Keyboards
Charlie Morgan:
Drums
Phil Ramone:
Producer
Steve Lyon:
Assistant recording engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1987
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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


Once Upon a Long Ago #4

CD Single • Released in 1987

4:25 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals
Jon Jacobs:
Recording engineer
Tim Renwick:
Electric guitar
Nick Glennie-Smith:
Keyboards
Charlie Morgan:
Drums
Phil Ramone:
Producer
Steve Lyon:
Assistant recording engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1987
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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


Once Upon a Long Ago #3

12" Single • Released in 1987

4:21 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals
Jon Jacobs:
Recording engineer
Tim Renwick:
Electric guitar
Nick Glennie-Smith:
Keyboards
Charlie Morgan:
Drums
Phil Ramone:
Producer
Steve Lyon:
Assistant recording engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1987
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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


Flowers In The Dirt (1993)

Official album • Released in 1993

4:24 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals
Jon Jacobs:
Recording engineer
Tim Renwick:
Electric guitar
Nick Glennie-Smith:
Keyboards
Charlie Morgan:
Drums
Phil Ramone:
Producer
Steve Lyon:
Assistant recording engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1987
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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


Flowers In The Dirt (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

4:24 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals
Jon Jacobs:
Recording engineer
Tim Renwick:
Electric guitar
Nick Glennie-Smith:
Keyboards
Charlie Morgan:
Drums
Phil Ramone:
Producer
Steve Lyon:
Assistant recording engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1987
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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


2017 exclusive downloads

Download • Released in 2017

3:28 • DemoB

Bootlegs


The McCartney - MacManus Collaboration

Unofficial album • Released in 1998

4:21 • DemoA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals
Jon Jacobs:
Recording engineer
Tim Renwick:
Electric guitar
Nick Glennie-Smith:
Keyboards
Charlie Morgan:
Drums
Phil Ramone:
Producer
Steve Lyon:
Assistant recording engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1987
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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


B-Sides Complete Vol. 3

Unofficial album • Released in 2000

4:21 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals
Jon Jacobs:
Recording engineer
Tim Renwick:
Electric guitar
Nick Glennie-Smith:
Keyboards
Charlie Morgan:
Drums
Phil Ramone:
Producer
Steve Lyon:
Assistant recording engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1987
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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


Collaborators

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

4:25 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals
Jon Jacobs:
Recording engineer
Tim Renwick:
Electric guitar
Nick Glennie-Smith:
Keyboards
Charlie Morgan:
Drums
Phil Ramone:
Producer
Steve Lyon:
Assistant recording engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1987
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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


UK Singles Collection - Volume 04

Unofficial album • Released in 2007

4:23 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals
Jon Jacobs:
Recording engineer
Tim Renwick:
Electric guitar
Nick Glennie-Smith:
Keyboards
Charlie Morgan:
Drums
Phil Ramone:
Producer
Steve Lyon:
Assistant recording engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1987
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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


Flowers In The Dirt - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2015

4:24 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Piano, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals
Jon Jacobs:
Recording engineer
Tim Renwick:
Electric guitar
Nick Glennie-Smith:
Keyboards
Charlie Morgan:
Drums
Phil Ramone:
Producer
Steve Lyon:
Assistant recording engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 09, 1987
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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