The Paul McCartney Project

Night Owl

Written by James Taylor

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

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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

Official album • 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

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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Jimmy Ryan 3 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 3 years ago

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