Pretty Boys

Written by Paul McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the McCartney III Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 2020

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions


Recording "McCartney III"

April - June 2020 ?

Related interviews


"McCartney III" Twitter Listening Party

Dec 21, 2020 • From Tim's Twitter Listening Party


Idris Elba meets Paul McCartney

Dec 19, 2020 • From BBC One


Paul McCartney Is Still Trying to Figure Out Love

Nov 29, 2020 • From New York Times

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

Pretty Boys” is a track from 2020 album “McCartney III“.

The lyrics for “Pretty Boys” are inspired by Paul seeing bicycles for hire around New York and London. It was also inspired by certain photographers who have been known to get out of the line in the studio. The “objects of desire” in the song are male models. But Paul finishes the song with a warning. “You can look, but you’d better not touch…”

From Spotify Storyline. Storyline is a feature of Spotify that gives behind-the-scenes information from artists about their songs, presented with a carousel of cards featuring a combination of text and images.

There’s a song on “McCartney III,” “Pretty Boys,” that is kind of unusual for you in how the music is sort of unassuming but the lyrics have an almost sinister edge. What inspired that one? 

I’ll tell you exactly. I’ve been photographed by many photographers through the years. And when you get down to London, doing sessions with people like David Bailey, they can get pretty energetic in the studio. It’s like “Blow-Up”, you know? “Give it to me! [Expletive] the lens!” And it’s like: “What? No, I’m not going to.” But I understand why they’re doing that. They’re that kind of artist. So you allow it. Certain photographers — they tend to be very good photographers, by the way — can be totally out of line in the studio. So “Pretty Boys” is about male models. And going around New York or London, you see the lines of bicycles for hire. It struck me that they’re like models, there to be used. It’s most unfortunate.

Paul McCartney – from interview with New York Times, November 29, 2020

I got to use the Kay M-1 upright bass on this. Previously played and owned by Bill Black when he played and toured with Elvis. How cool is that!

Paul McCartney talking about “Pretty Boys” – From Twitter

Here’s what Keith Smith, Paul’s technical manager, remembers about the recording of “Pretty Boys“:

[With Paul’s way of working, it] always starts from the song. That’s kind of how some of this started. When he did Pretty Boys, he sat down and said ‘I’ve got this really nice little thing I’ve been working on’. It was a riff that he’s had going for ages, I recognised it from way back when he started playing it.  He just sat down with an acoustic and knocked out the vocal and the acoustic at the same time. Then it just developed.

Keith Smith – from Music Radar, December 18, 2020

In 2021, for the “McCartney III Imagined” project, American trio Khruangbin reimagined “Pretty Boys“.

From Twitter. From Universal Music – Calling all musicians – McCartney III is almost here! Teasers are popping up in cities across the globe, sharing excerpts of the sheet music from each song.We would love to see your takes on each song. Join in the fun by recording your own version! – In Mexico City
Screenshot of Spotify Storyline
Official “McCartney III” promo photo, showing Paul McCartney with Bill Black’s Kay M-1 upright bass (photography by Mary McCartney)

Last updated on April 18, 2021

Lyrics

Look into my lens
Give me all you got
Work it for me baby
Let me take my best shot

Meet the Pretty Boys
A line of bicycles for hire
Objects of desire
Working for the squire
You can look but you’d better not touch

’Cause here come the Pretty Boys
They’re gonna set your world on fire
Objects of desire Preaching to the choir
They can talk but they never say much

Strike another pose
Try to feel the light
Hey, the camera loves you
Don’t put up a fight

There go the Pretty Boys
A row of cottages for rent
For your main event
They’re what the angels sent
You can look but you’d better not touch

Look into my lens
Try to feel the light
Hey, the camera loves you
It’s gonna be alright

Oh, here come the Pretty Boys
A line of bicycles for hire
Objects of desire
When they’re working for the squire
You can look but you’d better not touch

The Pretty Boys
But you’d better not touch

The Pretty Boys

Variations


A Album version

B "McCartney III Imagined" version

Officially appears on


McCartney III

Official album • Released in 2020

3:00 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Double bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Harpsichord, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

Session Recording:
April - June 2020 ?
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


McCartney III (Deluxe Edition Blue Cover CD)

Official album • Released in 2020

3:00 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Double bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Harpsichord, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

Session Recording:
April - June 2020 ?
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


McCartney III (Deluxe Edition Red Cover CD)

Official album • Released in 2020

3:00 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Double bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Harpsichord, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

Session Recording:
April - June 2020 ?
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


McCartney III (Deluxe Edition White Cover CD)

Official album • Released in 2020

3:00 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Double bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Harpsichord, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

Session Recording:
April - June 2020 ?
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


McCartney III (Deluxe Edition Yellow Cover CD)

Official album • Released in 2020

3:00 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Double bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Harpsichord, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

Session Recording:
April - June 2020 ?
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


McCartney III (Deluxe Digital Album)

Official album • Released in 2020

3:00 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Double bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Harpsichord, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

Session Recording:
April - June 2020 ?
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


McCartney III (Japanese edition - Limited release)

Official album • Released in 2020

3:00 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Double bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Harpsichord, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

Session Recording:
April - June 2020 ?
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


McCartney III (Smoky Tint Cassette)

Cassette • Released in 2020

3:00 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Double bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Harpsichord, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

Session Recording:
April - June 2020 ?
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


McCartney III (Green cover, CD)

Official album • Released in 2020

3:00 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Double bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Harpsichord, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

Session Recording:
April - June 2020 ?
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


McCartney III (Exclusive Orange LP)

Official album • Released in 2020

3:00 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Double bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Harpsichord, Piano, Producer, Vocals
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer

Session Recording:
April - June 2020 ?
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Films


Pretty Boys (Lyric video)

2020 • For Paul McCartney • Directed by Lucy Dyson


Pretty Boys (Visualizer)

2021 • For Paul McCartney

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.

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