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Released in 1997

Calico Skies

Written by Paul McCartney

Last updated on September 24, 2020

Album This song officially appears on the Flaming Pie Official album.

Timeline This song was officially released in 1997

Timeline This song was written, or began to be written, in 1991, when Paul McCartney was 49 years old)

Master album

Related sessions

This song was recorded during the following studio sessions:

Other Flaming Pie song also appearing on Working Classical

Related interviews

Calico Skies” is the sixth song on Paul McCartney’s 1997 album, Flaming Pie. From the album liner notes:

While it wreaked havoc in the north-east US, the category-three storm Hurricane Bob that made landfall in August 1991 prompted Paul (then staying in Long Island) to sit with an acoustic guitar and write what he describes as “a gentle love song that becomes a sixties protest song”. Paul invited George Martin to co-produce the piece, which-owing to it’s instrumental simplicity-was started, finished and mixed within a single session. The earliest recording on Flaming Pie.

(“Winedark Open Sea“, released on the 1993 “Off The Ground” album, was written during the same August 1991 holidays)

Bob, the hurricane, knocked out all the power; it was all candle-light, cooking on a woodfire. Very primitive, but we like that enforced simplicity. I couldn’t play records, so I made up little acoustic pieces. This was one of them-it’s primitive little powercut memory.

Paul McCartney, from the liner notes of “Flaming Pie”
Paul McCartney, in Club Sandwitch n°82, Summer 1997:

I wanted to write something acoustic, in the vein of ‘Blackbird’, something that could be recorded without drums or an arrangement. We were in America and Hurricane Bob had knocked out the power for about a week. That caused enforced simplicity: it was primitive and fun and I sat there with an acoustic guitar and wrote ‘Calico Skies’.

Mark Lewisohn, in Club Sandwitch n°82, Summer 1997:

While it wreaked havoc along the north-east US coastline and inland, the category-three storm Hurricane Bob that made landfall in August 1991 happily sparked the creation of ‘Calico Skies’. The McCartneys were on vacation on Long Island when the power went down, and as they welcomed the return of the old pioneer spirit, spending candlelit evenings, cooking over a wood fire and making and receiving visits from neighbours, Paul sat with an acoustic guitar and penned what he’s since described as “a love song that becomes a Sixties protest song, recorded in the vein of’Blackbird’, without drums or an arrangement”. Not entirely suitable, then, for the full-band Off The Ground album taped in 1992, Paul waited until those sessions were over and then invited George Martin to co-produce the piece, which – owing to its instrumental simplicity – was started, finished and mixed within a single session. The tape was then filed away for future use, making it the earliest recording on Flaming Pie.

In 1999, a classical version of “Calico Skies“, interpreted by a string quartet, was released on Working Classical . From the album liner notes:

‘Calico Skies’ is a piece for acoustic guitar that McCartney wrote in America. The unmistakable suggestion of early music is quite deliberate: when he was composing it, McCartney recalled the image of a medieval musician banging away on a tabor.

In 2003, “Calico Skies” was also re-recorded, by Paul McCartney and its touring band, for inclusion on the album Hope which was released to aid victims of the Iraq war.

Calico Skies” was on the setlist of a few tours, including 2003 Back in the World tour, 2004 summer tour & 2009 summer tour, and during soundchecks.

In 2011, a cover version by Mike Nugent and Nancy Sirloni was released on the album “Let Us In Nashville – A Tribute to Linda McCartney“, consisting of country-themed covers of McCartney songs by various artists. The album was for the benefit of The Women and Cancer Fund.

Calico Skies” was remastered in 2016 for inclusion on the “Pure McCartney” compilation, and then in 2020 for the “Flaming Pie Archive Collection“, both times by engineer Alex Wharton. As explained on the Steve Hoffman forum:

It’s interesting that for both ‘Pure McCartney’ in 2016 and the new 2020 remaster the polarity is different. Which means something went wrong in the final mastering stage of the original 1997 issue. Because ‘Pure McCartney’ worked from a compressed and limited 1997 master, and this 2020 remaster from a tape without that compression and limiting.

by forum resident “mindgames”


It was written that I would love you

From the moment I opened my eyes

And the morning when I first saw you

Gave me life under calico skies

I will hold, you for as long as you like

I'll hold you for the rest of my life

Always looking for ways to love you

Never failing to fight at your side

While the angels of love protect us

From the innermost secrets we hide

I'll hold you for as long as you like

I'll hold you for the rest of my life

Long live all of us crazy soldiers

Who were born under calico skies

May we never be called to handle

All the weapons of war we despise

I'll hold you for as long as you like

I'll hold you for the rest of my life

I'll hold you for as long as you like

I'll love you, for the rest of my…

For the rest of my life


  • A "Flaming Pie" album version
  • A2016 2016 remaster
  • A2020 2020 remaster
  • B Classical version
  • C 2003 version for the "Hope" album
  • D Home Recording
  • E Acoustic
  • F 'In The World Tonight' Campfire Acoustic
  • G From "Flaming Pie" EPK #2
  • L1 Live version from "Back In The World" live album
  • L2 Live version from "Good Evening New York City" live album
  • L3 Live version from "Amoeba Gig" live album

Officially appears on

See all official recordings containing “Calico Skies


See all bootlegs containing “Calico Skies


Live performances

Calico Skies” has been played in 53 concerts and 27 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where “Calico Skies” has been played

See all concerts where “Calico Skies” has been played

Going further

The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present

"Calico Skies" is one of the songs featured in the book "The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present," published in 2021. The book explores Paul McCartney's early Liverpool days, his time with the Beatles, Wings, and his solo career. It pairs the lyrics of 154 of his songs with his first-person commentary on the circumstances of their creation, the inspirations behind them, and his current thoughts on them.

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Paul McCartney writing

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