The Paul McCartney Project

Picasso's Last Words (Drink To Me)

Album This song officially appears on the Band On The Run Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1973
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me)” is a song from Paul McCartney and Wings’ album Band on the Run. It was not released as a single. Wings band member Denny Laine covered “Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me)” in 2007 on his album Performs the Hits of Wings. An abbreviated performance of the song appears on the live album Wings over America.

Writing

In an interview on British TV channel ITV1 for the program Wings: Band on the Run, to promote the November 2010 2xCD/2xDVD rerelease of the original album, McCartney says he was on vacation in Montego Bay, Jamaica where he “snuck” onto the set of the film Papillon where he met “Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen“. After a dinner with Hoffman, with McCartney playing around on guitar, Hoffman did not believe that McCartney could write a song “about anything“, so Hoffman pulled out a magazine where they saw the story of the death of Pablo Picasso and his famous last words, “Drink to me, drink to my health. You know I can’t drink anymore.” McCartney created a demo of the song and lyrics on the spot, prompting Hoffman to exclaim to his wife: “…look, he’s doing it…he’s doing it!

Recording

While recording Band on the Run in Lagos, Nigeria, Wings were invited to former Cream drummer Ginger Baker’s ARC Studios in the nearby suburb of Ikeja. While Baker insisted to McCartney that they should record the entire album there, he was reluctant and agreed he would spend one day there. “Picasso’s Last Words” was recorded during that time and Baker contributed by playing a tin can full of gravel.

Paul McCartney, From Wingspan:

On one of our Jamaican holidays we had heard that Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen were around, shooting the film Papillon. We were invited to visit the set and Dustin asked us back to his house for dinner. He was asking me how I write songs; I explained that I just make them up. He said, Can you make up a song about anything?’ I wasn’t sure, but he pulled out a copy of Time, pointed to an article and said, ‘Could you write a song about this? It was a quote from Picasso, from the last night of his life. Apparently, he had said to his friends, ‘Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink anymore,’ and then gone to bed and died in his sleep. So I picked up a guitar, started to strum and sing ‘Drink to me, drink to my health…’, and Dustin was shouting to his wife, ‘He’s doing it! He’s doing it! Come and listen!’ It’s something that comes naturally to me but he was blown away by it. And that song became Picasso’s Last Words.

Paul McCartney, from Paul McCartney In His Own Words, Paul Gambaccini:

Then we went to Nigeria and we were working in Ginger’s studio, Ginger Baker/ARC Studio in Lagos, nice studio down there. We thought we’d do this Picasso number, and we started off doing it straight. Then we thought, Picasso was kind of far out in his pictures, he’d done all these different kinds of things, fragmented, cubism, and the whole bit. I thought it would be nice to get a track a bit like that, put it through different moods, cut it up, edit it, mess around with it – like he used to do with his pictures. You see the old films of him painting, he paints it once and if he doesn’t like it he paints it again, right on top of it, and by about twenty-five times he’s got this picture. So we tried to use this kind of idea, I don’t know much about it, to tell you the truth, but what we did know we tried to get in the song, sort of a Cubist thing.

So Ginger, he helped on a few little things of it. At the end, where we go ‘Ho, hey ho.’ We did the cutting up there. Then we got Ginger and a couple of people from around the studio and we got little tin cans and filled them with gravel from outside the studio, and used them as shakers, so at the end you hear this [makes shaking gravel noise], and that’s Ginger and a big mob of us going [gravel noise again]. So we just made it all up and then edited the tape. There were about four or five big edits in it, really.

Last updated on October 30, 2016

Lyrics

The grand old painter died last night
His paintings on the wall
Before he went he bade us well
And said goodnight to us all.

Drink to me, drink to my health,
You know I can't drink any more
Drink to me, drink to my health,
You know I can't drink any more.

3 o'clock in the morning
I'm getting ready for bed
It came without a warning
But I'll be waiting for you baby
I'll be waiting for you there
So drink to me drink to my health
You know I can't drink any more
Drink to me drink to my health
You know I can't drink any more

FRENCH INTERLUDE

Tempo Change

JET . . . Drink to me

Drunken Chorus

FRENCH (tempo) Drink to me . . . Ho Hey Ho

Officially appears on


Band On The Run

Official album • Released in 1973

5:49 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Electric piano, Producer, Shaker, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals, Shaker
Denny Laine:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Shaker, Vocals
Tony Visconti:
Orchestration
Geoff Emerick:
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Ginger Baker:
Shaker
Monday:
Assistant engineer
Pete Swettenham:
Assistant engineer
Beaux Arts Orchestra:
Horns, Strings
Pierre Denis Le Seve:
French narration

Session Recording:
September 1-23, 1973
Studio:
EMI Studios, Lagos, Nigeria

Session Overdubs:
October 1973
Studio:
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Late October / Early November 1973
Studio:
Kingsway Studios, London, UK

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


Wings Over America

Official live • Released in 1976

1:54 • LiveL1

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Vocals
Denny Laine:
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Jimmy McCulloch:
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Joe English:
Drums, Vocals
Thaddeus Richard:
Clarinet
Mark Vigars:
Assistant mixing engineer
Phil McDonald:
Mixing engineer, Overdubs recording
Jack Maxson:
Recording engineer
Tom Walsh:
Assistant recording engineer

Concert From the concert in Boston, USA on May 22, 1976


Band On The Run (1993)

Official album • Released in 1993

5:49 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Electric piano, Producer, Shaker, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals, Shaker
Denny Laine:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Shaker, Vocals
Tony Visconti:
Orchestration
Geoff Emerick:
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Ginger Baker:
Shaker
Monday:
Assistant engineer
Pete Swettenham:
Assistant engineer
Beaux Arts Orchestra:
Horns, Strings
Pierre Denis Le Seve:
French narration

Session Recording:
September 1-23, 1973
Studio:
EMI Studios, Lagos, Nigeria

Session Overdubs:
October 1973
Studio:
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Late October / Early November 1973
Studio:
Kingsway Studios, London, UK

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


Band On The Run (DTS 5.1)

Official album • Released in 1996

5:49 • DTS mixC

Session Recording:
September 1-23, 1973
Studio:
EMI Studios, Lagos, Nigeria

Session Overdubs:
October 1973
Studio:
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Late October / Early November 1973
Studio:
Kingsway Studios, London, UK

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


Band On The Run (25th Anniversary)

Official album • Released in 1999

5:49 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Electric piano, Producer, Shaker, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals, Shaker
Denny Laine:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Shaker, Vocals
Tony Visconti:
Orchestration
Geoff Emerick:
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Ginger Baker:
Shaker
Monday:
Assistant engineer
Pete Swettenham:
Assistant engineer
Beaux Arts Orchestra:
Horns, Strings
Pierre Denis Le Seve:
French narration

Session Recording:
September 1-23, 1973
Studio:
EMI Studios, Lagos, Nigeria

Session Overdubs:
October 1973
Studio:
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Late October / Early November 1973
Studio:
Kingsway Studios, London, UK

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


Band On The Run (25th Anniversary)

Official album • Released in 1999

1:11 • Studio versionB • Acoustic version

Performed by:
Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Additional engineering
Eddie Klein:
Recording engineer
Keith Smith:
Assistant engineer

Session Recording:
Dec 04, 1998
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Additional engineeri:
Dec 07, 1998
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Band On The Run - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2010

5:49 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Electric piano, Producer, Shaker, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Backing vocals, Shaker
Denny Laine:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Shaker, Vocals
Tony Visconti:
Orchestration
Geoff Emerick:
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Ginger Baker:
Shaker
Monday:
Assistant engineer
Pete Swettenham:
Assistant engineer
Beaux Arts Orchestra:
Horns, Strings
Pierre Denis Le Seve:
French narration

Session Recording:
September 1-23, 1973
Studio:
EMI Studios, Lagos, Nigeria

Session Overdubs:
October 1973
Studio:
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Late October / Early November 1973
Studio:
Kingsway Studios, London, UK

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


Band On The Run - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2010

1:11 • Studio versionB • Acoustic version

Performed by:
Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Additional engineering
Eddie Klein:
Recording engineer
Keith Smith:
Assistant engineer

Session Recording:
Dec 04, 1998
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Additional engineeri:
Dec 07, 1998
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Wings Over America - Archive Collection

Official live • Released in 2013

1:54 • LiveL1.2013 • 2013 remaster

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Vocals
Denny Laine:
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Jimmy McCulloch:
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Joe English:
Drums, Vocals
Thaddeus Richard:
Clarinet
Mark Vigars:
Assistant mixing engineer
Phil McDonald:
Mixing engineer, Overdubs recording
Jack Maxson:
Recording engineer
Tom Walsh:
Assistant recording engineer
Guy Massey:
Remastering
Steve Rooke:
Remastering
Simon Gibson:
Remastering

Concert From the concert in Boston, USA on May 22, 1976


Wings Over America - Archive Collection

Official live • Released in 2013

2:14 • LiveL2

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Linda McCartney:
Vocals
Denny Laine:
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Jimmy McCulloch:
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Joe English:
Drums, Vocals
Thaddeus Richard:
Clarinet
Jack Maxson:
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Tom Walsh:
Assistant recording engineer
Steve Rooke:
Mastering

Concert From the concert in San Francisco, USA on Jun 14, 1976

Bootlegs


MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol. 5

Unofficial album

5:46 • Studio version


Rrrrooock Show

Unofficial live

1:47 • Live

Concert From the concert in Los Angeles, USA on Jun 23, 1976


Welcome To Washington

Unofficial live

2:05 • Live

Concert From the concert in Seattle, USA on Jun 10, 1976


Great Lost Takal Master

Unofficial live • Released in 1996

1:53 • Live

Concert From the concert in Landover, USA on May 15, 1976


Wings Over Boston

Unofficial live • Released in 2000

1:48 • Live

Concert From the concert in Boston, USA on May 22, 1976


Live performances

“Picasso's Last Words (Drink To Me)” has been played in 60 concerts.

Latest concerts where “Picasso's Last Words (Drink To Me)” has been played








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