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Released in 1967

Love In The Open Air

Written by Paul McCartneyInstrumental

Last updated on December 31, 2022

Album This song officially appears on the The Family Way - Original Soundtrack Recording (Mono - UK) Official album.

Timeline This song was officially released in 1967

Timeline This song was written, or began to be written, in 1966, when Paul McCartney was 24 years old)

Master album

Related sessions

This song was recorded during the following studio sessions:

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The Family Way” is a soundtrack album composed by Paul McCartney, produced and arranged by George Martin, and credited to the George Martin Orchestra. Released in January 1967 in the UK, it is considered the first solo effort by Paul McCartney, as it was the first time Paul didn’t share the songwriting credits with John Lennon.

No titles are given for any of the tracks on the LP, as they are basically variations on two themes – “Love In The Open Air” and “Theme From The Family Way“. But, over the years, those tracks were given titles, as explained in Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium by Chip Madinger and Mark Easter:

Thirty-one musical cues are featured in the film, six of which are unrelated to the McCartney/Martin material. All twenty-four of the McCartney/Martin musical cues appearing in the film were bundled into thirteen tracks on both the UK and US soundtrack album LPs, with six of the tracks banding together a number of shorter musical cues. There is reason behind the cryptic cue IDs, as they roughly correlate to the film reel on which each cue appears, and the sequence of the cue on that reel. (For those keeping track, there are a few gaps in the sequencing: there is no Cue 2M2 or 2M3, film reels 3 and 9 contained no musical cues, and Cue 6M1 is the brief appearance of the theme music from the television drama Coronation Street). However, there is one variation in the film; Cue 7M1 (Tr. 9) fades out on the LP, but in the film it remains at full volume and cuts cold as the scene ends.

The LP label reads: The Family Way – Original Sound Track From The Film; no titles are given for any of the tracks, as they are all basically variations on the two themes – ‘Love In The Open Air’ and ‘Theme From The Family Way’. Six are featured on side one, with seven appearing on side two. The entire album runs just over a generous twenty-four minutes!

From Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium by Chip Madinger and Mark Easter

Love In The Open Air” (also labelled “Cue 7M3“) is the 6th track of the soundtrack album and was the second of the two themes written by Paul McCartney, when he went back from holiday in Kenya in November 1966.

I went to America for a time and on returning [November 21, 1966?] realised we needed a love theme for the centre of the picture, something wistful. I told Paul and he said he’d compose something. I waited, but nothing materialised, and finally I had to go round to Paul’s house and literally stand there till he’d composed something.

John was visiting and advised a bit, but Paul created the tune and played it to me on guitar. I listened and wrote it down. It is a fragile, yet compelling, melody. I arranged it for woodwinds and strings and we called it ‘Love In The Open Air.’ It’s quite haunting.

George Martin – Interview with New Musical Express, December 24, 1966

Composition of ‘Love In The Open Air’ was not completed until after Paul returned from an extended vacation to France, Spain and Kenya. Martin took away the melody, this time arranging it for woodwind and strings. Five sessions at CTS Studios followed, spread over the course of three days and nights, all in the midst of recording the Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

From “Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium” by Chip Madinger and Mark Easter

In the UK, Decca purchased the musical rights to the film and decided to release a single in addition to the album. But George Martin had also planned to release a single through EMI. A compromise was found. The Decca single, which was scheduled to be released on December 15, was pushed back for a week. George Martin recorded his own version of the two themes on December 15. The two singles were released on December 23, 1966, and were commercial failures.

For the US release, and considering the poor performance of the singles in the UK, United Artists requested a more up-tempo version of “Love In The Open Air“, which was recorded in early February 1967 and was also a commercial failure.

In 1967, The Mike Sammes Singers, who would later sing on The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus“, “Good Night” and the “Let It Be” album, recorded a cover version of “Love In The Open Air“. It was released in the US by Capitol Records (catalog number 5957).

In May 1968, Paul won his first solo Ivor Novello award for “Best Instrumental Theme” for “Love In The Open Air“.

We got an Ivor Novello Award for the score – for the best film song that year, a piece called ‘Love In The Open Air’, which Johnny Mercer was nearly going to put lyrics to, but I didn’t know who he was. Later I realised, ‘Oh, that Johnny Mercer! You mean the greatest lyricist on the planet!’ I should have done that. Never mind – it fell through – but it was good fun doing the music.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles Anthology” book, 2000

In 1995, “Love In The Open Air” was recreated as a classical suite for guitar and flute by Carl Aubut, a classical guitarist from Quebec, and the Claudel String Quartet. This recreation was given the approval of Paul McCartney and George Martin.

In 2000, some other variations of “Love In The Open Air” were recorded by the quartet La Flûte Enchantée and released on the album “Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool“. The liner notes mentioned: “Recording suggested and authorized by Sir Paul McCartney“.


Officially appears on

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Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.

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