The Paul McCartney Project

Riding to Vanity Fair

Written by Paul McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Chaos and Creation in the Backyard Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 2005

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Song facts

From an interview of Paul by Gary Crowley (2005 UK promotional only interview CD, recorded July 2005 at Air Studios in London ; full interview available on Chronicles in the Backyard Disc 1):

How did track 9, Vanity Fair, develop in the studio?

Vanity Fair I originally had as quite an up tempo sort of thing, I had it as quite Plays (Sings) I bit my tongue .  It was like (plays and sings)  It was all kind of staccato and very fast and, came in one evening where things had all kind of laid back a bit more like, and we said, O.K. let’s just (plays and sings) ‘I bit my tongue.’  I sort of swamped it right out (plays) just took it right down which changed the mood completely but this was particularly the one that Nigel didn’t like that, (sings) ‘I bit my tongue…’  It was all these little short phrases so he encouraged me to try and go somewhere else so I ended up with keeping the first line which was what he liked so it was, (sings) ‘I bit my tongue.  I never talked too much….’ And got those run much more smooth. Those next couple of lines and knocked out the ‘Where did it get me? Where did it get me?’  I just knocked that out. Kept the kind of meaning about you’re approaching someone for friendship and they just kind of don’t want to know.  They’re just kind of rejecting you and it’s not about any particular person, it’s about anybody who’s like that which I think we all meet in life, you know, you’re in a great mood with somebody and, ‘Well, I bit my tongue.  I didn’t talk too much,’ and it’s one of those songs where you get your own back on those people by writing a song about them and whoever it applies to, people who are just generally a bit sort of you know a bit yuck and so that was it yeah, and we’d done the backing track but we didn’t like the basic song.  We liked the track.  It was nice and dark and quite moody.  Nigel had messed around with some sort of echoey things, got kind of quite spooky but yeah, we re-worked it here, right here in the studio and kept working at it till we liked all the words and all the tune and finally I said, ‘O.K. Wait a minute.  This is an O.K. song now’. Because it was getting blown off the album.  It wasn’t going to be on and by the time we’d finished working with it it was like , ‘O.K. we like this one now,’ and it made its way back onto the album so it was worth all that work.

Paul McCartney in "Conversations With McCartney", by Paul Du Noyer:

It’s the only song here that mentions a trouble not overcome.

Yeah, an own-up song. Now it’s become more elegant, but it’s still a pissed-off song. When you’re trying to to reach out to someone, and it’s rejected, that’s a hurtful thing. That happened to me at a particular point. It wasn’t Heather [his wife at that time]. It was about some other relationship that I had, and this was my therapeutic way of releasing myself.

More in sorrow than anger

That’s it. You know me. I’m generally trying to reach out in my songs. And when it doesn’t happen, it is more sorrow than anger.

Last updated on October 29, 2016


I bit my tongue
I never talked too much
I tried to be so strong
I did my best
I used the gentle touch
I've done it for so long

You put me down
But I can laugh it off
And act like nothing's wrong

But why pretend
I think I've heard enough
Of your familiar song

I tell you what I'm going to do
I'll try to take my mind off you
And now that you don't need my help
I'll use the time to think about myself

You're not aware
Of what you put me through
But now the feeling's gone
But I don't mind
Do what you have to do
You don't fool anyone

I'll tell you what I'm going to do
I'll take a different point of view
And now that you don't need my help
I'll use the time to think about myself

The definition of friendship
Apparently ought to be
Showing support for the
One that you love
And I was open to friendship
But you didn't seem to have any to spare
While you were riding to Vanity Fair

There was a time
When every day was young
The sun would always shine
We sang along
When all the songs were sung
Believing every line

That's the trouble with friendship
For someone to feel it
It has to be real
Or it wouldn't be right
And I keep hoping for friendship
But I wouldn't dare
To presume it was there
While you were riding to Vanity Fair

While you were riding to vanity fair
While you were riding to vanity fair
While you were riding to vanity fair

Officially appears on

Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Official album • Released in 2005

5:07 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Epiphone casino electric guitar, Hofner bass, Martin d28 acoustic guitar, Toy glockenspiel, Vocals, Wurlitzer electric piano
Nigel Godrich :
James Gadson :
The Los Angeles Music Players :
David Campbell :
Stephanie Bennett :

Recording :
April 2004 and January 2005
Studio :
Ocean Way Recording, Los Angeles



Unofficial album

5:05 • Outtake

Chronicles in the Backyard Disc 4

Unofficial album • Released in 2006

5:06 • Studio version • Instrumental version

Chronicles in the Backyard Disc 8

Unofficial album • Released in 2006

1:30 • Studio version

Chronicles in the Backyard Disc 10

Unofficial album • Released in 2006

4:00 • Studio version

Chronicles in the Backyard Disc 5

Unofficial album • Released in 2006

2:08 • Radio show • Acoustic guitar

Recording :
Sep 13, 2005

Live performances

“Riding to Vanity Fair” has been played in 1 concerts.

Latest concerts where has been played

Sold On Song

Jul 27, 2005 • United Kingdom • London • Abbey Road Studios • Radio show


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