The Paul McCartney Project

Don't Be Careless Love

Album This song officially appears on the Flowers In The Dirt Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1989
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

Some other McCartney / Costello songs appearing on Flowers In The Dirt

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Song facts

Don’t Be Careless Love” is one of the four songs co-written by Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello, and released on Paul McCartney’s 1989 album “Flowers In The Dirt(the other ones being “My Brave Face“, “You Want Her Too” and “That Day Is Done“).

Paul McCartney in “Club Sandwich 52, Summer 1989“:

We have stuff that I wrote with Elvis, and we recorded it ourselves, to see if we could just get a kind of energy in there and stuff…They were nice tapes, but they weren’t making it. So I re-recorded them with Mitchell Froom, who’s the American guy who did Crowded House…we kind of fixed one of the recordings Elvis and I had done (‘Careless’), because we liked the vocal and we just needed to fix it up a little bit.

From Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello:

[…] When I returned, Paul had moved on to “Don’t Be Careless Love,” one of the most beautiful melodies that he had brought to our writing sessions and into which we had inserted the horrifying images of a nightmare. It was probably the weirdest song we’d written together. Paul was already at the microphone, delivering a perfect vocal performance in one take. The anger of ten minutes earlier completely evaporated in the face of such a beautiful piece of singing.

Elvis Costello, in a MOJO interview in 2011:

[Paul ] did a vocal on another song that we wrote called Don’t Be Careless Love, which is the other end of his vocal dynamic range. Incredibly wired singing, half-falsetto. It’s extraordinary singing – one take. […]

From “In Their Own Words: The Producers discuss McCartney’s Flowers in the Dirt“, by Super Deluxe Edition blog:

Mitchell Froom: It’s an incredible vocal. The same with That Day is Done. There is a big reason why I didn’t want to even think about redoing those, because they were so good, those vocals. But yes, it’s a really quirky song, and I was surprised he ended up using it, but I liked it, for whatever reason.

I added drums to it, and don’t think this is credited correctly, but that actually was Jerry Marotta that played drums on that [credited to Chris Whitten]. I played keyboards; the Wurlitzer piano and organ. And I think we just worked on it, just added some extra guitar. It’s more like fleshing them out so that they fit in with everything else.

Last updated on April 2, 2017

Lyrics

Burn the midnight lamp
Down until the dawn,
I'll keep watch until I'm sure your coming home.
Shadows play and flicker on the bedroom wall
They turn into a bad dream overnight,
Something could be terribly wrong.
Don't be careless love,
Don't be careless love,
Don't be, don't be careless.

In my dream you're running nowhere
Every step you've taken turns to glue.
Walking down a spiral staircase
Falling through, falling through,
Don't be careless love,
Be careless love.

The lamp burns down and out
I'm getting pretty tired of this,
I feel so bad something might be going amiss,
I won't be there so look out for yourself
You're getting in deep whatever you do,
Don't let me go back to sleep,
Don't be careless love,
Don't be careless love,
Don't be, don't be careless.

Saw your face in the morning paper,
Saw your body rolled up in a rug
Chopped up into two little pieces
By some thug,
Don't be careless love,
Be careless love.

But in the morning light
When I wake up again
You're by my side and that's the way it's always been,
But in the dark your mind plays funny tricks on you,
Your mind plays funny tricks on you,
Your mind plays funny tricks on you,
Don't be careless love.

Officially appears on


Flowers In The Dirt

Official album • Released in 1989

3:19 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Finger snaps, Producer, Tambourine, Vocals
Hamish Stuart:
Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Tambourine
Chris Whitten:
Backing vocals, Drums
Elvis Costello:
Backing vocals, Keyboards, Producer
Mitchell Froom:
Keyboards, Producer
Neil Dorfsman:
Additional production
Peter Henderson:
Engineer
Richard Moakes:
Assistant engineer
Tchad Blake:
Engineer

Session Recording:
January - February 1988
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
September 1988
Studio:
Unknown location

Session Overdubs:
October 28th-29th, 1988
Studio:
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
Sept - Oct 1988 or Jan 30th - Feb 4th 1989
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, or AIR Studios, or Metropolis Studios, UK

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


Flowers In The Dirt - Special Package

Official album • Released in 1990

3:19 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Finger snaps, Producer, Tambourine, Vocals
Hamish Stuart:
Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Tambourine
Chris Whitten:
Backing vocals, Drums
Elvis Costello:
Backing vocals, Keyboards, Producer
Mitchell Froom:
Keyboards, Producer
Neil Dorfsman:
Additional production
Peter Henderson:
Engineer
Richard Moakes:
Assistant engineer
Tchad Blake:
Engineer

Session Recording:
January - February 1988
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
September 1988
Studio:
Unknown location

Session Overdubs:
October 28th-29th, 1988
Studio:
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
Sept - Oct 1988 or Jan 30th - Feb 4th 1989
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, or AIR Studios, or Metropolis Studios, 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

3:19 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Finger snaps, Producer, Tambourine, Vocals
Hamish Stuart:
Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Tambourine
Chris Whitten:
Backing vocals, Drums
Elvis Costello:
Backing vocals, Keyboards, Producer
Mitchell Froom:
Keyboards, Producer
Neil Dorfsman:
Additional production
Peter Henderson:
Engineer
Richard Moakes:
Assistant engineer
Tchad Blake:
Engineer

Session Recording:
January - February 1988
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
September 1988
Studio:
Unknown location

Session Overdubs:
October 28th-29th, 1988
Studio:
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
Sept - Oct 1988 or Jan 30th - Feb 4th 1989
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, or AIR Studios, or Metropolis Studios, 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

3:21 • Studio versionA • 2017 remaster


Flowers In The Dirt (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

3:44 • DemoB • Original Demo

Performed by:
Paul McCartneyElvis Costello
Paul McCartney:
Producer
Eddie Klein:
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 23, 1987
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Flowers In The Dirt (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

3:24 • DemoC • 1988 Demo

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Lead vocal, Producer
Hamish Stuart:
Backing vocals
Chris Whitten:
Backing vocals, Drums
Elvis Costello:
Backing vocals, Producer
Peter Henderson:
Recording engineer
Richard Moakes:
Assistant recording engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 01, 1988
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Bootlegs


MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol.21

Unofficial album

3:35 • Studio version


The McCartney - MacManus Collaboration

Unofficial album • Released in 1998

3:34 • Demo


Collaborators

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

3:36 • Demo • McCartney & Costello demo

Recording:
Spring-Summer '87


Flowers In The Dirt - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2015

3:19 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Finger snaps, Producer, Tambourine, Vocals
Hamish Stuart:
Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Tambourine
Chris Whitten:
Backing vocals, Drums
Elvis Costello:
Backing vocals, Keyboards, Producer
Mitchell Froom:
Keyboards, Producer
Neil Dorfsman:
Additional production
Peter Henderson:
Engineer
Richard Moakes:
Assistant engineer
Tchad Blake:
Engineer

Session Recording:
January - February 1988
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
September 1988
Studio:
Unknown location

Session Overdubs:
October 28th-29th, 1988
Studio:
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
Sept - Oct 1988 or Jan 30th - Feb 4th 1989
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, or AIR Studios, or Metropolis Studios, 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

3:36 • Studio version • [demo]

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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