- Album This song officially appears on the McCartney - Archive Collection Official album.
- Timeline This song has been officially released in 2011
- Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1956 (Paul McCartney was 14 years old)
- Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions
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This piano tune is a strong contender for McCartney’s first-ever write. It was composed around the time of his fourteenth birthday (mid-1956), give or take a little. McCartney was evidently highly confident of his abilities even at this fledgling stage, and in his naivety, seriously considered offering it to Frank Sinatra!
Although the song disappears from the radar after Lennon and McCartney met, it popped up with several other oldies during the Get Back sessions (of which we shall hear plenty on this site), on January 26, 1969. Here we find audio of the song, with McCartney plonking through the track on piano, and Lennon joining in – obviously recognising it (thereby proving that it had been shown to him after the two teamed up). Interestingly there is a full lyric in place, which might have been written at the song’s genesis – it is impossible to be sure. (If it was, “Suicide” was an unusually sombre choice of title for an optimistic 14-year-old, let alone as a potential Sinatra hit.)
McCartney recorded the song alone in 1970 for his first solo album (as he did with “Hot As Sun”), although only a very brief section was used on the finished album, and it was unlisted on the sleeve. In 1974, he returned to it and made a full demo recording, which, realising his teenage dream, he offered to Sinatra (who declined it). McCartney recorded it yet again in 1975 for a film (One Hand Clapping), but once more it failed to appear.
Finally, in 2011, the original 1970 version was released in full, as an extra on the remastered re-issue of McCartney, and this is considered definitive. (The Deluxe Edition of that release also included a DVD, on which the 1975 version appears.)
It is not known how much of the recorded versions was written circa 1969/70, and how much is original, but even so, as a first song from a teenager, it is extraordinarily accomplished.
The various recordings have meant it was copyrighted a few times, with official titles ranging from “Call It Suicide” to “I Call It Suicide” and just “Suicide”, which we use here, since that’s how it appears on the McCartney CD.
Written in 1956, only 1 verse and a chorus
Suicide is one of Paul’s earliest compositions. A first studio take was taped during the Get Back rehearsals in January 1969. Another studio version was recorded in January 1970 for the “McCartney ” album, but only a few seconds of the song finally surfaced on this album. Another version was recorded for the “One Hand Clapping” video. A last version was taped as a demo in 1974 and given to Frank Sinatra who never recorded the song.
“Suicide” was a song written by Paul McCartney when he was just 14 years old. It was considered for release three times and is available (bootlegged) as a studio outtake from both the Beatles and Paul McCartney & Wings. The first time McCartney considered releasing the song was in 1970 when recording his McCartney album. He later decided that it didn’t fit in well with the family atmosphere of his album and it was dropped minus a few seconds of it at the end of “Hot As Sun / Glasses”.
The second time he considered releasing it was in 1974 when he attempted to give it to Frank Sinatra, who declined. Sinatra is quoted to have said “Is this guy trying to have me?” the third and final time McCartney attempted to release it was in 1975 when he recorded a piano/vocal only version of the song for the unreleased movie “One Hand Clapping”, an unreleased documentary about Paul McCartney & Wings in the studio. Other versions include a complete, four minute demo, a live television performance and a short studio outtake from 1969.
Complete known history of the song:
1956 Paul McCartney writes the song on the family piano
1969 A 46 second long single versed version is recorded during the “Get Back” sessions
1970 1:42 version taped for “McCartney”, 8 seconds of which appeared on the album
1974 A complete 3:46 Intro/Verse/Verse/Bridge/Verse/Bridge/Outro demo is taped by McCartney. The tape is offered to Frank Sinatra, who declines it.
1975 A Verse/Verse version similar to the one from 1970 is taped at Abbey Road Studios
2001 Paul plays a single verse of the song live on the Michael Parkinson Show, to some laughter from the studio audience.
Paul McCartney in "Conversations With McCartney", by Paul Du Noyer:
My feelings were that if you were ever going to be a songwriter, the height of it all was Sinatra. A bit before rock and roll, you were thinking of standards and things. So around that time I wrote ‘When I’m 64’ and this other thing, which I thought would be a bit Rat Pack, smoochy, with words like, ‘When she tries to, uh-huh…’ Boom! And stabs from the band, y’know?
I remember being in bed, and getting ideas for lyrics. That’s probably why they’re so bad! I kept a paper and pencil by my bed, I’d lean out and try and not wake up, try and write it down. The rhymes are painful but I used to do it as a joke: [in cabaret crooner voice] ‘When she tries to… Good evening ladies’n’gentlemen! Bop-bee-bop yeah! Welcome to Las Vegas!’ That kind of thing.
Like I’d do ‘Michelle’: ‘Ello [comic French accent], welcome to mah French clurb…’ You had a few party pieces and ‘Suicide’ was the Rat Pack one. I never did anything with it. But then I actually got a request from Sinatra for a song.
I spoke to him on the phone and told him about it: ‘Great, Paul, send it along.’ Thank you, Frank! So I got that out of it. I did a demo, sent it to him and he thought I was taking the piss. He really did. ‘Is this guy kidding?’ You know, sending Sinatra a song called ‘Suicide’? He did not get it.
I did think, Oh god, maybe I should have changed it a bit.
But around the time of McCartney, I was goofing around on piano and there was a bit of tape left, so I used that fragment at the end of ‘Glasses’. It’s actually quite a funky version, though I say it myself. Over the years people have said to me, ‘You know that little fragment that gets faded out? What was that?’
Last updated on March 2, 2019
Officially appears on
Official album • Released in 2011
0:00 • Studio version
0:48 • Demo • 1/26/69
- Jan 26, 1969
1:37 • Demo • The Piano Tape
- Jul 14, 1974
1:27 • Demo
- August 1974
3:46 • Demo
- February 1977
4:02 • Studio version
Album • MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol.25