The Paul McCartney Project

Footprints

Album This song officially appears on the Press To Play Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1986
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1985 (Paul McCartney was 43 years old)

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions


"Press To Play" sessions #1

March - May 1985


"Press To Play" sessions #2

October 1st - December 6th 1985


"Press To Play" sessions #3

April 14th-18th 1986

Other "Press To Play" songs co-written with Eric Stewart


Angry

Officially appears on Press To Play


Stranglehold

Officially appears on Press To Play


Pretty Little Head

Officially appears on Press To Play


Move Over Busker

Officially appears on Press To Play


However Absurd

Officially appears on Press To Play

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Song facts

Footprints” is a song from 1986 album “Press To Play” co-written with Eric Stewart, a delicate ballad, which was, like most songs on “Press To Play“, surely overproduced.

From “Club Sandwich 42 – Autumn 1986“:

It came from an image of a magpie looking for food out in the snow. Eric and I changed the magpie into an old man, although the magpie came back for the third verse. The old man is out there looking for Yule logs or something, like the character in ‘Good King Wenceslas’.. .The song goes into what his story might have been, the heartaches there might have been…” Indeed, the lines ‘His heart keeps aching in the same old way/He can’t help feeling that she might come back some day‘ recall the sentiments and melodic sweep of ‘Another Day‘. A Spanish guitar sparkles and there’s even a spinet, a small harpsichord with a string for each note more readily associated with Sir John Betjeman than Paul McCartney.

[Paul] usually comes up with the most brilliant ideas just right off the top of head. I remember a time, it was snowing here in winter, and we were supposed to be writing together so I said, “I’m going to try and make it down there”. The snow was three feet deep and I got down to his place and the sun was shining outside and was gorgeous and I walked to this little studio at the back of his house and I walked through this little door and I said to Paul, “It’s beautiful outside, Paul look at this beautiful…”, and he sang “It’s beautiful outside”. That was the basis of the song “Footprints” and we started writing it. His brain worked in that way which really got my brain working as well when I was doing my solo stuff, so a great debt is owed to Paul by a lot of people but especially by me.

Eric Stewart, from an interview for Alliance Resource, October 2017
From the “Press To Play” sleeve – These coloured diagrams by Paul show the position of the voices and instruments in the mix of each track.

Last updated on May 2, 2020

Lyrics

It's beautiful outside, an old hand gathers wood,
Can he see me sitting here? His mind is somewhere else.

His friends have flown away, he's left out in the cold.
He won't sit by my fire, he says he likes it in the snow.
Where footprints never go, he likes it in the snow.

It's getting dark outside, the old man's going home,
Has he someone waiting there? Or is he living on his own?
Where footprints never go, he likes it in the snow…

White blanket, hiding the traces' of tears she didn't see,
Oh white blanket covers the memory
Of all that used to be. All that used to be.
But his heart keeps aching in the same old way.
He can't help feeling that she might come back some day.

It's beautiful outside, a magpie looks for food.
The old hand throws a crumb,
Do you think he's found a friend?
Where footprints never go, he likes it in the snow…

White blanket, hiding the traces' of paths he didn't take.
Oh white blanket covers the memory
Of moves he didn't make.

Oh white blanket, hiding the traces' of tears she didn't see.
Snow white blanket simply covers the memory
Of all that used to be.
But his heart keeps aching in the same old way.
He can't help feeling that she might come back someday.

Officially appears on


Press To Play

Official album • Released in 1986

4:32 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Producer, Spanish guitar, Spinet, Vocals
Eric Stewart :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar (?), Synthesizers (?)
Trevor Jones :
Assistant engineer (?)
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer (?)
Tony Clark :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jon Kelly :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Lynn-drum programming, Percussion
John Hammel :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Howe :
Assistant engineer (?)
Hugh Padgham :
Engineering, Mixing, Producer
Peter Mew :
Assistant engineer (?)
Haydn Bendall :
Assistant engineer (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
October 1st - December 6th 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Mixing:
April 14th-18th 1986
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

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


Press To Play (LP version)

Official album • Released in 1986

4:32 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Producer, Spanish guitar, Spinet, Vocals
Eric Stewart :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar (?), Synthesizers (?)
Trevor Jones :
Assistant engineer (?)
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer (?)
Tony Clark :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jon Kelly :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Lynn-drum programming, Percussion
John Hammel :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Howe :
Assistant engineer (?)
Hugh Padgham :
Engineering, Mixing, Producer
Peter Mew :
Assistant engineer (?)
Haydn Bendall :
Assistant engineer (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
October 1st - December 6th 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Mixing:
April 14th-18th 1986
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

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


Press To Play (1993)

Official album • Released in 1993

4:32 • Studio versionA1993 • 1993 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Producer, Spanish guitar, Spinet, Vocals
Eric Stewart :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar (?), Synthesizers (?)
Trevor Jones :
Assistant engineer (?)
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer (?)
Tony Clark :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jon Kelly :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Lynn-drum programming, Percussion
John Hammel :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Howe :
Assistant engineer (?)
Hugh Padgham :
Engineering, Mixing, Producer
Peter Mew :
Assistant engineer (?)
Haydn Bendall :
Assistant engineer (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
October 1st - December 6th 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Mixing:
April 14th-18th 1986
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

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

Bootlegs


MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol.19

Unofficial album

4:31 • Rough mixA1

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar (?), Bass (?), Keyboards (?), Vocals (?)
Eric Stewart :
Acoustic guitar (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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


Pizza And Fairy Tales

Unofficial album • Released in 2000

4:34 • Rough mixA1

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar (?), Bass (?), Keyboards (?), Vocals (?)
Eric Stewart :
Acoustic guitar (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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


Press To Play - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2015

4:32 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Producer, Spanish guitar, Spinet, Vocals
Eric Stewart :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar (?), Synthesizers (?)
Trevor Jones :
Assistant engineer (?)
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer (?)
Tony Clark :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Butler :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jon Kelly :
Assistant engineer (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Lynn-drum programming, Percussion
John Hammel :
Assistant engineer (?)
Matt Howe :
Assistant engineer (?)
Hugh Padgham :
Engineering, Mixing, Producer
Peter Mew :
Assistant engineer (?)
Haydn Bendall :
Assistant engineer (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
October 1st - December 6th 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Mixing:
April 14th-18th 1986
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

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


Press To Play Sessions

Unofficial album • Released in 2016

4:29 • Rough mixA1

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar (?), Bass (?), Keyboards (?), Vocals (?)
Eric Stewart :
Acoustic guitar (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

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


Where Footprints Never Go - Unofficial Rarities - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2016

4:31 • Rough mixA1

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar (?), Bass (?), Keyboards (?), Vocals (?)
Eric Stewart :
Acoustic guitar (?)
Jerry Marotta :
Percussion (?)

Session Recording:
March - May 1985
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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