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Released in 1989

How Many People

Written by Paul McCartney

Last updated on April 29, 2021

Album This song officially appears on the Flowers In The Dirt Official album.

Timeline This song was officially released in 1989

Timeline This song was written, or began to be written, in 1988, when Paul McCartney was 46 years old)

Master album

Related sessions

This song was recorded during the following studio sessions:

How Many People” is a track from 1989 album “Flowers In The Dirt“. Written in Jamaica while on holiday – hence the reggae feel to it -, first recorded in the studio in January 1988, it was “dedicated to the memory of Chico Mendez, Brazillian Rain Forest Campainer” in the booklet of “Flowers In The Dirt” released in June 1989.

From Wikipedia:

Francisco Alves Mendes Filho, better known as Chico Mendes (December 15, 1944 – December 22, 1988), was a Brazilian rubber tapper, trade union leader and environmentalist. He fought to preserve the Amazon rainforest, and advocated for the human rights of Brazilian peasants and indigenous peoples. He was assassinated by a rancher on December 22, 1988. The Chico Mendes Institute for Conservation of Biodiversity (Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade), a body under the jurisdiction of the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, is named in his honor. […] Paul McCartney dedicated the song “How Many People” from his 1989 album Flowers In The Dirt to the memory of Mendes. Moreover, composer Clare Fischer, who had himself supplied orchestral arrangements for McCartney’s album (“Distractions” and the unreleased “The Lovers That Never Were”), dedicated a composition from his own 1989 album to Mendes, namely “Xapurí” (after the so-called ‘City of Chico Mendes’), from Lembranças (Remembrances).

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

Me in Jamaica, on holiday…you can’t help going reggae, everybody is, the climate is. I’ve been a reggae fan since the early Tighten Up albums… this very simple song called ‘How Many People’ came out. I thought it was too simple.


How many people

Stand in a line?

How many people

Never get a chance to shine?

If you can tell me

I'll gladly listen

How many people have died?

One too many right now for me

I want to be happy,

I want to be free,

One too many right now for me

I want to see ordinary people living peacefully.

How many people

Go for a ride

How many people

Never make it through to the other side?

If you can tell me

I'll gladly listen,

How many people have cried?

One too many right now for me

I want to be happy,

I want to be free,

One too many right now for me

I want to see ordinary people living peacefully

How many people

Will it take?

How many people

For goodness sake?

How many people?

How many people?

One too many…

Officially appears on


See all bootlegs containing “How Many People

Related film

Live performances

How Many People” has been played in 1 concerts.

Latest concerts where “How Many People” has been played

  • Fantastico

    May 03, 1989 • United Kingdom • The Barn at the Mill • TV show

Going further

Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989

With 25 albums of pop music, 5 of classical – a total of around 500 songs – released over the course of more than half a century, Paul McCartney's career, on his own and with Wings, boasts an incredible catalogue that's always striving to free itself from the shadow of The Beatles. The stories behind the songs, demos and studio recordings, unreleased tracks, recording dates, musicians, live performances and tours, covers, events: Music Is Ideas Volume 1 traces McCartney's post-Beatles output from 1970 to 1989 in the form of 346 song sheets, filled with details of the recordings and stories behind the sessions. Accompanied by photos, and drawing on interviews and contemporary reviews, this reference book draws the portrait of a musical craftsman who has elevated popular song to an art-form.

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