Band On The Run

Album This song officially appears on the Band On The Run (UK version) Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1973

Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Band on the Run” is the title song of Paul McCartney and Wings’ 1973 album Band on the Run. The song was released as a single in 1974, following the success of “Jet“, and became an international chart success. The song topped the charts in the United States, also reaching number 3 in the United Kingdom. The single sold over one million copies in 1974 in America. It has since become one of the band’s most famous songs.

A medley of song fragments that vary in style from folk rock to funk, “Band on the Run” is one of McCartney’s longest singles at 5:09. The song was partly inspired by a comment that George Harrison had made during a meeting of the Beatles’ Apple record label. The song-wide theme is one of freedom and escape, and its creation coincided with Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr having parted with manager Allen Klein in March 1973, leading to improved relations between McCartney and his fellow ex-Beatles. The original demos for this and other tracks on Band on the Run were stolen shortly after Wings arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, to begin recording the album. With the band reduced to a trio consisting of McCartney, his wife Linda, and Denny Laine, “Band on the Run” was recorded at EMI’s Lagos studio and completed at AIR Studios in London.

Background

It was symbolic: “If we ever get out of here … All I need is a pint a day” … [In the Beatles] we’d started off as just kids really, who loved our music and wanted to earn a bob or two so we could get a guitar and get a nice car. It was very simple ambitions at first. But then, you know, as it went on it became business meetings and all of that … So there was a feeling of “if we ever get out of here”, yeah. And I did. – Paul McCartney, to Clash Music in 2010

In a 1973 interview with Paul Gambaccini, McCartney stated that the lyric “if we ever get out of here” was inspired by a remark made by George Harrison during one of the Beatles’ many business meetings. McCartney recalled: “He was saying that we were all prisoners in some way [due to the ongoing problems with their company Apple] … I thought it would be a nice way to start an album.” McCartney added, referring to his inspiration for “Band on the Run“: “It’s a million things … all put together. Band on the run – escaping, freedom, criminals. You name it, it’s there.

In a 1988 interview with Musician magazine, McCartney noted the drug busts musicians of the late 1960s and early 1970s experienced as an inspiration for the “Band on the Run“, also referencing the “desperado” image he attributed to bands like the Byrds and the Eagles as an influence. McCartney, who had been having legal trouble involving pot possession, said, “We were being outlawed for pot … And our argument on [‘Band on the Run’] was ‘Don’t put us on the wrong side … We’re not criminals, we don’t want to be. So I just made up a story about people breaking out of prison.’

According to Mojo contributor Tom Doyle, the song’s lyrics, recalled through memory following the robbery of the band’s demo tapes for the Band on the Run album, were altered to reflect on the band’s then-current status, “stuck inside the four walls of the small, cell-like studio, faced with grim uncertainty.

Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five“, the closing track of the Band on the Run album, concludes with a brief excerpt of the chorus.

Composition

Band on the Run” is a three-part medley, with the first section being a slow ballad, the second featuring a funk rock style, and the final a country-esque section. The lyrics of the entire song, however, are related, with all being based around a general theme of freedom and escape.

Recording

The original demo recording for “Band on the Run“, as well as multiple other tracks from the album, was stolen from the McCartneys by a group of thugs while Paul McCartney and Wings were recording in Lagos, Nigeria. Robbed at knife-point, they relinquished the demos, only recovering the songs through memory. Paul McCartney later remarked, “It was stuff that would be worth a bit on eBay these days, you know? But no, we figured the guys who mugged us wouldn’t even be remotely interested. If they’d have known, they could have just held on to them and made themselves a little fortune. But they didn’t know, and we reckoned they’d probably record over them.

The song was recorded in two parts, in different sessions. The first two were taped in Lagos while the third section was recorded in October 1973 at AIR Studios in London.

Release

Originally, Paul McCartney planned not to release any singles from Band on the Run, a strategy he compared to that used by The Beatles. However, he was convinced by Capitol Records promotion man Al Coury to release singles from the album, resulting in the single release of “Jet” and “Band on the Run“.

Al [Coury, promotion man for Capitol Records] released ‘Jet,’ which I wasn’t even thinking of releasing as a single, and ‘Band on the Run’ too. He single-handedly turned [Band on the Run] around. –  Paul McCartney

Band on the Run“, backed with “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five“, was released in America on 8 April 1974 as the follow-up single to Paul McCartney and Wings’ top-ten hit “Jet“. The song was a smash hit for the band, becoming McCartney’s third solo American chart-topping single and Wings’ second. The single was later released in Britain (instead backed with “Zoo Gang“, the theme song to the television show of the same name), reaching number 3 on the British charts. The song was also a top 40 single in multiple European countries, such as the Netherlands (number 7), Belgium (number 21), and Germany (number 22).

The US radio edit was 3:50 in length. The difference was largely caused by the removal of the middle or the second part of the song, as well as the verse that starts with “Well, the undertaker drew a heavy sigh …

The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies. It was the second of five number-one singles for the band on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1974, Billboard ranked it number 22 on its Top Pop Singles year-end chart. Billboard also listed the song as Paul McCartney’s sixth most successful chart hit of all time, excluding Beatles releases.

Band on the Run” has also been featured on numerous McCartney/Wings compilation albums, including Wings Greatest, All the Best!, and Wingspan: Hits and History. The song is also performed in many of McCartney’s live shows, with a live version being included on the 1976 live album Wings over America.

Videos

An independent film produced by Michael Coulson while he was a college student in the mid 1970s was later included in The McCartney Years video compilation as well as the 2010 re-issue of the album Band on the Run. It served mostly as a tribute to the Beatles, featuring montages of still pictures from their career. Wings were not shown. The video ends with a collage of Beatles pictures much like the album cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

In 2014, a new video for “Band on the Run” was created. The video was designed by Ben Ib, an artist who created tour visuals for Paul McCartney (as well as Roger Waters and The Smashing Pumpkins) and the cover for Paul McCartney’s 2013 solo album New. In the video, all of the objects, including the “band on the run” itself, are made up of words.

Reception

The song was praised by former bandmate and songwriting partner, John Lennon, who considered it “a great song and a great album“. In 2014, Billboard praised “Band on the Run” for having “three distinct parts that don’t depend on a chorus yet still manage to feel anthemic.” AllMusic critic Stewart Mason called the track “classic McCartney“, lauding the song for “manag[ing] to be experimental in form yet so deliciously melodic that its structural oddities largely go unnoticed.

Band on the Run” also won the Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus at the 17th Annual Grammy Awards. NME ranked the song as the tenth best song of the 1970s, as well as the fifteenth best solo song by an ex-Beatle. In 2010, AOL Radio listeners voted “Band on the Run” the best song of Paul McCartney’s solo career, achieving a better ranking than “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Silly Love Songs“. In 2012, Rolling Stone readers ranked the song as McCartney’s fourth best song of all time, behind “Maybe I’m Amazed“, “Hey Jude“, and “Yesterday“. Rolling Stone readers also ranked the song the fifth best solo song by ex-members of The Beatles. […]

Cover versions

On 1 June 2008 McCartney was joined onstage by Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl for a special performance in Liverpool. Grohl played guitar and sang backing vocals on “Band on the Run” and then played drums on Beatles songs “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and “I Saw Her Standing There“. Grohl later performed the song with Paul’s band in 2010 at the White House, when Paul was given the Gershwin Award.

From ‘THE LYRICS: 1956 to the Present’ to be published in November | PaulMcCartney.com

In 1972, during Wings’ university tour, there was an incident at the hotel in Hull. Denny Seiwell thinks this event could have inspired Paul McCartney to come up with the term “band on the run”:

I think at one of those places that we stayed, Paul had a little beef with the owner over something. And somehow or another, his elbow kind of hit the guy in the face. Don’t think he did it intentionally, but all of a sudden his oldest girl [Heather] is running around saying: ‘Everybody get up, pack up. We got to get out of here. The cops are coming’. And it was hilarious, but I really think that that’s where he got the term ‘band on the run’ from.

Denny Seiwell – From Billboard, December 26, 2018

Last updated on February 12, 2022

Lyrics

Stuck inside these four walls
Sent inside for ever
Never seeing no one, nice again,
Like you, mama
You, mama . . . you . . .

If I ever get out of here
Thought of giving it all away
To a registered charity
All I need is a pint a day
If I ever get out of here
(If we ever get out of here)

LINK

Well the rain exploded with a mighty crash
As we fell into the sun
And the first one said to the second one there
I hope you're having fun.

Band on the run; band on the run
And the jailer man, and sailor Sam,
Were searching everyone
For the band on the run . . .

Well, the undertaker drew a heavy sigh
Seeing no one else had come
And a bell was ringing in the village square
For the rabbits on the run,

Band on the run . . .

Well the night was falling
As the desert world began to settle down
In the town they're searching for us everywhere
But we never will be found

Band on the run; band on the run
And the county judge, who held a grudge
Will search for ever more,
FOR THE BAND ON THE RUN.

Officially appears on


Band On The Run (US version)

Official album • Released in 1973

5:13 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Electric piano, Producer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Moog
Denny Laine :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Tony Visconti :
Orchestration
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Monday :
Assistant engineer
Pete Swettenham :
Assistant engineer
Beaux Arts Orchestra :
Horns, Strings

Session Recording:
September 1-23, 1973
Studio :
EMI Studios, Lagos, Nigeria

Session Overdubs:
October 1973
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Late October / Early November 1973
Studio :
Kingsway Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


Band On The Run (UK version)

Official album • Released in 1973

5:13 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Electric piano, Producer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Moog
Denny Laine :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Tony Visconti :
Orchestration
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Monday :
Assistant engineer
Pete Swettenham :
Assistant engineer
Beaux Arts Orchestra :
Horns, Strings

Session Recording:
September 1-23, 1973
Studio :
EMI Studios, Lagos, Nigeria

Session Overdubs:
October 1973
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Late October / Early November 1973
Studio :
Kingsway Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


Band On The Run (UK - Promo 7)

7" Single • Released in 1974

3:50 • Studio versionA1 • Stereo • Edited version

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Electric piano, Producer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Moog
Denny Laine :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Tony Visconti :
Orchestration
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Monday :
Assistant engineer
Pete Swettenham :
Assistant engineer
Beaux Arts Orchestra :
Horns, Strings

Session Recording:
September 1-23, 1973
Studio :
EMI Studios, Lagos, Nigeria

Session Overdubs:
October 1973
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Late October / Early November 1973
Studio :
Kingsway Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


Band On The Run (UK - Promo 7)

7" Single • Released in 1974

5:13 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Electric piano, Producer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Moog
Denny Laine :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Tony Visconti :
Orchestration
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Monday :
Assistant engineer
Pete Swettenham :
Assistant engineer
Beaux Arts Orchestra :
Horns, Strings

Session Recording:
September 1-23, 1973
Studio :
EMI Studios, Lagos, Nigeria

Session Overdubs:
October 1973
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Late October / Early November 1973
Studio :
Kingsway Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


Band On The Run (US - Promo 7)

7" Single • Released in 1974

3:50 • Studio versionA2 • Mono • Edited version

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Electric piano, Producer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Moog
Denny Laine :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Tony Visconti :
Orchestration
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Monday :
Assistant engineer
Pete Swettenham :
Assistant engineer
Beaux Arts Orchestra :
Horns, Strings

Session Recording:
September 1-23, 1973
Studio :
EMI Studios, Lagos, Nigeria

Session Overdubs:
October 1973
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Late October / Early November 1973
Studio :
Kingsway Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


Band On The Run (US - Promo 7)

7" Single • Released in 1974

3:50 • Studio versionA1 • Stereo • Edited version

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Electric piano, Producer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Moog
Denny Laine :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Tony Visconti :
Orchestration
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Monday :
Assistant engineer
Pete Swettenham :
Assistant engineer
Beaux Arts Orchestra :
Horns, Strings

Session Recording:
September 1-23, 1973
Studio :
EMI Studios, Lagos, Nigeria

Session Overdubs:
October 1973
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Late October / Early November 1973
Studio :
Kingsway Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


Band On The Run / Zoo Gang

7" Single • Released in 1974

3:50 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Electric piano, Producer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Moog
Denny Laine :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Tony Visconti :
Orchestration
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Monday :
Assistant engineer
Pete Swettenham :
Assistant engineer
Beaux Arts Orchestra :
Horns, Strings

Session Recording:
September 1-23, 1973
Studio :
EMI Studios, Lagos, Nigeria

Session Overdubs:
October 1973
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Late October / Early November 1973
Studio :
Kingsway Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


Band On The Run (Quadraphonic version)

Official album • Released in 1974

5:13 • Studio versionB • DTS Mix / Quadraphonic version

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Electric piano, Producer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Moog
Denny Laine :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Tony Visconti :
Orchestration
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Alan O'Duffy :
Mixing engineer
Monday :
Assistant engineer
Pete Swettenham :
Assistant engineer
Beaux Arts Orchestra :
Horns, Strings

Session Recording:
September 1-23, 1973
Studio :
EMI Studios, Lagos, Nigeria

Session Overdubs:
October 1973
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Early 1974
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


One Hand Clapping (2 LP edition)

LP • Released in 1974

5:20 • Studio versionG • The same take as featured on Band On The Run archive edition but a radically different mix. Jimmy's guitar is higher in the mix and instrument separation is clearer. Nice job by Giles to get the most out of the complex, layered instrumentation.

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Moog
Denny Laine :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals
Jimmy McCulloch :
Electric guitar
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Geoff Britton :
Drums
John Barrett :
Assistant recording engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
Aug 27, 1974
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Aug 29, 1974
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Early 2024
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Wings Over America

Official live • Released in 1976

5:47 • LiveL1

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Keyboard, Vocals
Denny Laine :
Electric guitar, Vocals
Jimmy McCulloch :
Electric guitar, Vocals
Joe English :
Drums, Vocals
Mark Vigars :
Assistant mixing engineer
Phil McDonald :
Mixing engineer, Overdubs recording
Jack Maxson :
Recording engineer
Tom Walsh :
Assistant recording engineer

Concert From the concert in Denver, USA on Jun 07, 1976


Latest concerts where Band On The Run has been played






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