Night Owl

Written by James Taylor

Album This song officially appears on the No Secrets LP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1972

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions

Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.

Song facts

Night Owl” is a song from Carly Simon’s 1972 album No Secrets with Paul McCartney providing backing vocals.

From Wikipedia:

Night Owl” is a song written by James Taylor that was originally released as a single by Taylor’s band The Flying Machine, which also included Danny Kortchmar in 1966. Taylor later rerecorded a solo version of the song for his Apple Records debut album James Taylor in 1968. Subsequently the Flying Machine version was released on the album James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine. It has also been covered by such artists as Alex Taylor, Carly Simon and Anne Murray. […]

Carly Simon was dating James Taylor during the recording of her 1972 album No Secrets. She decided that she wanted to include one of Taylor’s songs on the album. Producer Richard Perry chose “Night Owl” for her to cover, because “it was a funkier, bluesier tune than [Taylor’s] more folk-oriented material.” Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Doris Troy and Bonnie Bramlett provided the backing vocals for Simon’s version of the song. Long time Rolling Stones collaborator Nicky Hopkins played piano, and Klaus Voorman and Bobby Keys also played on the song. Taylor was initially not entirely happy that Simon’s version of the song sounded to him like an outtake from the Rolling Stones’ recent album Exile on Main Street. Rolling Stone Magazine critic Stephen Holden regarded it as the second best song on No Secrets after the #1 hit “You’re So Vain.” High Fidelity Magazine regarded it as the best song on the album. Stereo Review called it a “scortching good version” of the song. Author Jami Bernard described Simon’s “sexy growl” when singing the line “I’m a night owl, honey” as implying that “life was more interesting in the wee hours.” Critic James Hunter described Simon’s “whooping growls” on the song as a “triumph.” Simon later included “Night Owl” on her compilation album The Best of Carly Simon.

Last updated on July 29, 2018

Officially appears on

No Secrets

LP • Released in 1972

3:47 • Studio version

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals
Nicky Hopkins :
Klaus Voormann :
Jim Keltner :
Carly Simon :
Jimmy Ryan :
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Ray Cooper :
Bobby Keys :
Tenor sax
Bonnie Bramlett :
Background vocals
Doris Troy :
Background vocals

Session Overdubs:
Oct 18, 1972
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

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.

Shop on Amazon


Have you spotted an error on the page? Do you want to suggest new content? Or do you simply want to leave a comment ? Please use the form below!

Jimmy Ryan 6 years ago

Hi - just saw this. Although Linda was there, she did not sing on the track. It was just Bonnie, Doris, Carly, Paul and myself (Jimmy Ryan). You can hear the story of how Paul turned up at our session here along with a photo of the session:

The PaulMcCartney Project 6 years ago

Thanks so much Jimmy for your comment and your insider view !! I've changed accordingly ! All the best.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *