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Released in 1970

Man We Was Lonely

Written by Paul McCartney

Last updated on April 13, 2022

Album This song officially appears on the McCartney LP.

Timeline This song was officially released in 1970

Timeline This song was written, or began to be written, in 1970, when Paul McCartney was 28 years old)

Master album

Related sessions

This song was recorded during the following studio sessions:

Related interviews

Man We Was Lonely” is the closing track of the first side of Paul McCartney’s debut solo album, “McCartney“, released in April 1970.

“The chorus (“Man We Was Lonely”) was written in bed at home, shortly before we finished recording the album. The middle (“I used to ride…”) was done one lunchtime in a great hurry, as we were due to record the song that afternoon. Linda sings harmony on this song, which is our first duet together. The steel-guitar sound is my Telecaster played with a drum peg”.

Paul McCartney, from the press release of “McCartney”, April 1970

From The Beatles Bible:

It was recorded in Studio Two at EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London on 25 February 1970. The basic track was recorded in 12 takes between 11.30am and 2.15pm, and was completed with a number of overdubs from 3.15-9pm. That evening the song was mixed in just one attempt.

Like several songs on McCartney, among them Every Night and Maybe I’m Amazed, Man We Was Lonely was inspired by the pain felt by the break-up of The Beatles. McCartney experienced depressive thoughts in the aftermath of the group, and briefly found solace in alcohol, before eventually reaching fulfillment in music and domestic harmony.

While not as soul-baring as John Lennon‘s early solo works, Man We Was Lonely exposes McCartney’s vulnerability as the Beatles dream turned to dust. The jaunty music presents his defiance to the world, and the presence of Linda McCartney on harmony vocals shows how his new partnership was shaping up to be just as enduring as his previous ones.

[Man We Was Lonely is] countryish, like from a couple of hicks. It’s nice when little words come out, like “And we was hard-pressed to find a smile.” I like that line. It’s a hokey thing. I think I’m remembering it wasn’t that easy when I left the Beatles, “Man, we was lonely.” I think it was a little bit of a reflection of those times.

My biggest problem was I had to sue the Beatles; I tried to sue [Apple Group business manager] Allen Klein, but he wasn’t a party to any of the agreements, so I ended up having to sue my best friends as a technical matter. It was the last thing in the world I wanted to do, but it was pointed out to me that it was the only way to do it.

I knew I had to get out [of the Beatles], and I knew I would apologize to them, and I knew once I got out, they’d get out. So if I got out of prison, I’d free them. It was a very difficult call. I went through a lot of tough times emotionally, so something like “Man We Was Lonely” reflects that.

Paul McCartney – From an interview with Billboard, 2001 (“Man We Was Lonely” was recorded on February 25, 1970. Paul McCartney filed a lawsuit against the other three Beatles and Apple Corps, in London’s High Court, seeking an end to The Beatles’ contractual partnership, on December 31, 1970).

If you haven’t got time, your brain – like a computer – has to select sort of top-priority possibilities. I think that’s a good thing. First thought, best thought. Nearly always there’s something about that sort of instant karma, having to do it, means that it turns out to be the best thing. I’ve done it with a few songs: we made up ‘Birthday’ at the session; I did it with the middle of ‘Two Of Us’ and later with ‘Man We Was Lonely’.

Paul McCartney – from an interview to promote the “Driving Rain” album, 2001

In “Man We Was Lonely”, you sound like Buck Owens in the chorus and Paul McCartney in the verses – like you’re doing a duet with Buck Owens?

Actually, I thought of myself as Johnny Cash on that one. Johnny could have done that one right! I remember playing that to him and June [Carter-Cash], in fact.

Paul McCartney – From interview with MusicRadar, 2004

This version of “Man We Was Lonely” played to Johnny Cash was likely recorded in May 1988, but remains unreleased.

From the press release of “McCartney”, April 1970



Man we was lonely,

Yes we was lonely

And we was hard pressed to find a smile,

Man we was lonely, yes we was lonely

But now we're fine all the while.


I used to ride on my fast City line

Singing songs that I thought were mine alone,

alone alone.

Now let me lie with my love for the time

I am home, home, home, home, HOME !

Chorus again repeat…


Officially appears on

See all official recordings containing “Man We Was Lonely


Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.

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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Dean Wrigley • 6 years ago

During a defense of his song How Do You Sleep? during the Andy Peebles interview, John Lennon mentioned that McCartney had included digs at him in his (Paul's) album (McCartney). I think the line in Man We Was Lonely... 'singing songs that I thought were mine alone' may have been the line Lennon was referring to. McCartney had written many songs on his own during The Beatles but had to include Lennon in the songwriting credits, and he voiced his frustration in this song. Of course, this was the case the other way round too, which may have also got John's goat!

The PaulMcCartney Project • 6 years ago

Thanks Dean. I've found the Andy Peebles interview, but no transcript :) Will need to find some time to find the exact quote ! http://www.beatlesarchive.net/john-lennon-yoko-ono-interview-with-andy-peebles-dec-6-1980.html Again, thanks !

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