The Paul McCartney Project

Little Willow

Written by Paul McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Flaming Pie Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1997
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1995 (Paul McCartney was 53 years old)

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions


Home recordings

Circa 1995



Other Flaming Pie songs written in Jamaica, January 1995


The Song We Were Singing

Officially appears on Flaming Pie


Souvenir

Officially appears on Flaming Pie

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Song facts

Little Willow” was written early 1995 as a tribute to Maureen Cox, the first wife of Ringo Starr, who passed away in December 1994; it was released on 1997 album “Flaming Pie“. From the liner notes of the album:

‘Little Willow’ was written after Paul learned of the death of a dear friend. He created the song not only as an immediate personal response to the sadness but, hopefully, as a salve for his late friend’s children. The studio recording, begun ten months later (on the day the The Beatles Anthology 1, with “Free As A Bird” was released), is an eloquent combination of voice and instrumentation, Paul’s work being augmented by Jeff Lynne.

“I wanted to somehow convey how much I thought of her. For her and her kids. It certainly is heartfelt, and I hope it will help a bit.”

Paul McCartney, in Club Sandwich n°82, Summer 1997:

A good friend of mine died, someone we all loved, so I wrote a song that conveyed my mood. It’s heartfelt – instead of writing her kids a letter I wrote a song. It was a very sad day for all of us, and Jeff Lynne and I gave it our all in the studio.

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

‘Little Willow’ is an achingly touching ballad written by Paul upon hearing of the death of a close friend, whom the McCartneys visited in hospital and continued to keep in close contact with until she died. Being on holiday at the time, and therefore out of reach, Paul wasn’t given the news for some days, but instantly created ‘Little Willow’ not only as a personal response to the sadness but, hopefully, as a salve for his late friend’s children. The studio recording, begun ten months later (on the day that The Beatles Anthology 1, with ‘Free As A Bird’ was released), is an eloquent combination of voice and instrumentation, Paul’s work being augmented by Jeff Lynne.

Even if I’m writing something very specific, I veil it. That’s just my way. It’s the way I’ve developed as a songwriter. You know, if I want to write about loneliness, it’ll be ‘Eleanor Rigby’ who carries the can. ‘Little Willow’, I know I was very affected by Maureen’s death, and again I remember just going into a room and putting those sentiments into that song. The sort of fragility of life is in that song. But it wasn’t called ‘Maureen’, it was called ‘Little Willow’. I always prefer to conjure up some story or tale or some bit of imagination around something, because then I can get my emotions out but it’s not quite as raw. And I think it makes it a little more available to people if you call it ‘Little Willow’. We’ve all got a Little Willow.

Paul McCartney, from the Flaming Pie Archive Edition, 2020

At the end of 1997, “Little Willow” was included in a tribute album to Diana, Princess of Wales, who had died in August the same year.

A promotional video directed by John Schlesinger was shot in September 1997, and premiered in December during the second airing of the Oprah Winfrey show.

Little Willow” 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”

Last updated on September 17, 2020

Lyrics

Bend, little willow
Winds gonna blow you
Hard and cold tonight

Life, as it happens,
Nobody warns you
Willow, hold on tight

Nothing's gonna shake your love
Take your love away
No one's out to break your heart
It only seems that way… hey

Sleep little willow,
Peace gonna follow
Time will heal your wounds

Grow to the heavens
Now and forever
Always came too soon

Little willow

Nothing's gonna shake your love
Take your love away
No one's out to break your heart
It only seems that way… hey

Bend, little willow
Wind's gonna blow you
Hard and cold tonight.
Life as it happens
Nobody warns you
Willow, hold on tight

Ah, little willow

Little willow

Officially appears on


Flaming Pie

Official album • Released in 1997

2.55 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocal, Bass guitar, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harpsichord, Lead vocal, Mellotron, Percussion effects, Piano, Producer, Spanish guitar
Jeff Lynne :
Backing vocal, Electric spinette harpsichord, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 21, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Diana, Princess Of Wales - Tribute

Official album • Released in 1997

2:56 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocal, Bass guitar, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harpsichord, Lead vocal, Mellotron, Percussion effects, Piano, Producer, Spanish guitar
Jeff Lynne :
Backing vocal, Electric spinette harpsichord, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 21, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Flaming Pies

Official album • Released in 1997

2.55 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocal, Bass guitar, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harpsichord, Lead vocal, Mellotron, Percussion effects, Piano, Producer, Spanish guitar
Jeff Lynne :
Backing vocal, Electric spinette harpsichord, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 21, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Flaming Pie White-Label Promo LP

Official album • Released in 1997

2.55 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocal, Bass guitar, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harpsichord, Lead vocal, Mellotron, Percussion effects, Piano, Producer, Spanish guitar
Jeff Lynne :
Backing vocal, Electric spinette harpsichord, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 21, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Pure McCartney (Deluxe)

Official album • Released in 2016

2:58 • Studio versionA2016 • 2016 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocal, Bass guitar, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harpsichord, Lead vocal, Mellotron, Percussion effects, Piano, Producer, Spanish guitar
Jeff Lynne :
Backing vocal, Electric spinette harpsichord, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Alex Wharton :
Remastering

Session Recording:
Nov 21, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Flaming Pie - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2020

2:58 • Studio versionA2020 • 2020 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocal, Bass guitar, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harpsichord, Lead vocal, Mellotron, Percussion effects, Piano, Producer, Spanish guitar
Jeff Lynne :
Backing vocal, Electric spinette harpsichord, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Alex Wharton :
Remastering

Session Recording:
Nov 21, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Flaming Pie - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2020

2:26 • DemoB • Home Recording

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocal
Alex Wharton :
Mastering

Session Recording:
Circa 1995


Flaming Pie - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2020

2:59 • Rough mixC

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocal, Lead vocal, Piano
Jeff Lynne :
Backing vocal
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Assistant recording engineer
Alex Wharton :
Mastering

Bootlegs


Complete Flaming Pie - Sessions & Beyond (1997-1998)

Unofficial album

3:10 • Alternate take • 2007 Video Mix


Flaming Pie - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2016

2:58 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocal, Bass guitar, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harpsichord, Lead vocal, Mellotron, Percussion effects, Piano, Producer, Spanish guitar
Jeff Lynne :
Backing vocal, Electric spinette harpsichord, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 21, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Flaming Pie Sessions

Unofficial album • Released in 2016

2:59 • Outtake • Basic Track


Flaming Pie Sessions

Unofficial album • Released in 2016

3:09 • OuttakeA • Video Soundtrack

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocal, Bass guitar, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harpsichord, Lead vocal, Mellotron, Percussion effects, Piano, Producer, Spanish guitar
Jeff Lynne :
Backing vocal, Electric spinette harpsichord, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 21, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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Paul Lisney 1 years ago

This is a beautiful song.