The Paul McCartney Project

Mary Had A Little Lamb

Album This song officially appears on the Mary Had A Little Lamb (UK) 7" Single.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1972
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

Related songs

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Mary Had a Little Lamb” is Wings’ version of the traditional nursery rhyme.

Background

At the time, Paul McCartney claimed it was written in response to the BBC ban on their previous single, the political “Give Ireland Back to the Irish“, but he has since denied this, asserting that it was a serious effort to write a rock song for children, who he felt were being tragically overlooked by the music industry. Wings lead guitarist Henry McCullough plays mandolin, and the McCartney children sing on the chorus. McCartney has claimed that record logs reveal that the song was recorded before “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” had been banned by the BBC. Engineer Tony Clark claims that the song was probably recorded in February or March; The song was surely written before “Give Ireland Back to the Irish“, as it can be heard during an interview aired on radio station WRKO in December 1971. “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” was banned at the end of February.

Charts and reception

The song was virulently attacked by rock critics at the time, although a few critics thought it to be deliberately ironic. It reached the top 10 in the UK, peaking at number 9. However, many US radio stations chose instead to play the pop/rock B-side, “Little Woman Love“. Apple Records in the US even revised the picture sleeve for the single to credit both sides by name (see reverse cover), but the single still failed to rise above number 28 in the US.

The song was released as a single on 12 May 1972 in the UK, moved up from its original planned date of the 5th. The US release occurred on 29 May. On 25 May, the band mimed a performance of the song for BBC TV’s Top of the Pops TV show. Over a week later, on 6 June, the band mimed yet again to the song. The song was included as a bonus track on the remastered version of Wild Life released in 1993.

To be noted:

  • In December 1971, an interview of Paul recorded in the MPL offices in New-York features a piano rehearsal of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” [I1].
  • The French version [A1] of the single was in mono
  • The German version [A2] of the single “features an alternate stereo mix with the children’s backing vocals buried in the mix, opposed to the standard mix where they are quite prominent” (from “Eight Arms To Hold You” by Chip Madinger & Mark Easter)
  • There is a rough mix [A3] available lasting 4:40 with some notable differences: “Heather and Mary’s backing vocals are not yet included and there are a few overdubs yet to add. Additionally, there is an extended coda ending here that was not included in the single mix” (from The Beatles Rarity)
  • Some promotional videos were shot for the track; for each, there is a different live vocal recorded on top of the studio backing track. [A4] is the “Barnyard version”, as the first video features Wings in a barn ; [A5] is the “Psychedelic version” as the video features psychedelic images.
  • In February / March 1973, Wings recorded a lively version of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” for the “James Paul McCartney” TV show [L1].

Last updated on November 18, 2016

Lyrics

Mary had a little lamb
His fleece was white as snow
And everywhere that Mary went
That lamb was sure to go

And you could hear them singing
La la, la la, la, la, la, la, la, la
La la, la la, la, la, la, la, la, la

He followed her to school one day
It was against the rules
It made the children laugh and play to
See a lamb at school

And you could hear them singing
La la, la la, la, la, la, la, la, la
Everybody singing
La la, la la, la, la, la, la, la, la

And so the teacher turned it out
But still it lingered near
And waited patiently about till
Mary did appear

And you could hear them singing
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
Everybody singing
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la

"But does the lamb love Mary so"
The eager children cried
"And Mary loves the lamb, you know"
The teacher did reply

And you could hear them singing
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
Everybody singing
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la

Officially appears on


Mary Had A Little Lamb (UK)

7" Single • Released in 1972

Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass (?), Percussion, Piano, Producer, Recorder (?), Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals, Maracas (?), Moog (?), Vocals
Denny Laine:
Backing vocals, Bass (?), Electric guitar
Henry McCullough:
Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Mandolin
Denny Seiwell:
Backing vocals, Drums, Percussion, Recorder (?), Xylophone (?)
Heather McCartney:
Backing vocals
Glyn Johns:
Engineer
Mary McCartney:
Backing vocals

Session Recording:
March 1972
Studio:
Olympic Sound Studios, London

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


Mary Had A Little Lamb (Germany)

7" Single • Released in 1972

Studio versionA2 • Alternate mix released in Germany

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Percussion, Piano, Producer, Recorder, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals, Maracas, Moog, Vocals
Denny Laine:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar
Henry McCullough:
Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Mandolin
Denny Seiwell:
Backing vocals, Drums, Percussion, Recorder, Xylophone
Heather McCartney:
Backing vocals
Glyn Johns:
Engineer
Mary McCartney:
Backing vocals

Session Recording:
March 1972
Studio:
Olympic Sound Studios, London

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


Mary Had A Little Lamb (France)

7" Single • Released in 1972

Studio versionA1 • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Percussion, Piano, Producer, Recorder, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals, Maracas, Moog, Vocals
Denny Laine:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar
Henry McCullough:
Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Mandolin
Denny Seiwell:
Backing vocals, Drums, Percussion, Recorder, Xylophone
Heather McCartney:
Backing vocals
Glyn Johns:
Engineer
Mary McCartney:
Backing vocals

Session Recording:
March 1972
Studio:
Olympic Sound Studios, London

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


Wild Life (1993)

Official album • Released in 1993

3:34 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Percussion, Piano, Producer, Recorder, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals, Maracas, Moog, Vocals
Denny Laine:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar
Henry McCullough:
Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Mandolin
Denny Seiwell:
Backing vocals, Drums, Percussion, Recorder, Xylophone
Heather McCartney:
Backing vocals
Glyn Johns:
Engineer
Mary McCartney:
Backing vocals

Session Recording:
March 1972
Studio:
Olympic Sound Studios, London

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


Red Rose Speedway (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

Studio version


Red Rose Speedway (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

Studio version • Rough Mix


Wings Over Europe

Official album • Released in 2018

Live

Concert From the concert in The Hague, Netherlands on Aug 21, 1972

Bootlegs


MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol. 3

Unofficial album

5:02 • InterviewI1

Recording:
December 1971


Studio Rarities Vol. 1

Unofficial album • Released in 2014

4:43 • Rough mixA3 • Alternate Take

Paul McCartney:
Piano, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals
Denny Laine:
Electric guitar
Henry McCullough:
Electric guitar
Denny Seiwell:
Drums

Session Recording:
March 1972
Studio:
Olympic Sound Studios, London


James Paul McCartney

Unofficial live

3:37 • LiveL1 • Live vocals, over pre-recorded soundtrack

Session Recording:
February - March 1973



Arles'72

Unofficial live • Released in 2001

3:26 • Live

Concert From the concert in Arles, France on Jul 13, 1972


Live performances

“Mary Had A Little Lamb” has been played in 17 concerts.

Latest concerts where “Mary Had A Little Lamb” has been played








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