The Paul McCartney Project

Temporary Secretary

Written by Paul McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the McCartney II Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1980
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

Other singles from "McCartney II"

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Temporary Secretary” is a song by Paul McCartney, featured on his 1980 album McCartney II. In 2013, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it the #36 all-time McCartney post-Beatles song, calling it a “cult favorite” and an “oddly catchy electro-pop nugget, about a slightly creepy-sounding guy looking to hire a temp.” In 2014, “Temporary Secretary” was ranked the 167th greatest song of all time by critics of NME magazine. They described it as “wonky electro-pop that didn’t sound so much ahead of its time as out of it altogether.

Background

“It’s like a disposable secretary, and it struck me as being funny. The song is written from the point of view of a fellow who just wants a disposable secretary, and he’s writing to a bureau to try and get one. I just like the idea. I just thought it was funny, you know, asking for a temporary secretary rather than a secretary. … That sound on the track, which is like a space typewriter, is a sequence machine. I used that to give me a tempo and, again, I just made the song up as I went along. It was a little influenced by Ian Dury.” – Paul McCartney

McCartney later claimed that he did, at some points, have temporary secretaries. He also noted that there was, in fact, a Mr. Marks.

I did have temporary secretaries. After I left Apple I still had business stuff coming up, so in trying to figure out how I could cope with that there were a couple of times I just grabbed someone to just put my letters in order and help. But that track isn’t about a specific person. What it’s about is, there was a guy called Alfred Marks, he had the Alfred Marks Bureau – he had the same name as a comedian on the radio when I was growing up. So it was just the funny paradox of seeing adverts for the Alfred Marks Bureau, the idea of some comedian having a bureau was just funny. It said ‘Temporary Secretary’, and I thought, that’s a kind of funky thought. Then there was the secretary thing: take a letter Miss Smith, sit on my lap… all that kind of stuff.” – Paul McCartney, The Quietus, 2011

Release

Temporary Secretary” was released as a third single from the album only in a form of 12″ single, along with the ten-minute “Secret Friend” as its b-side, limited to 25000 copies and therefore failed to chart. A 7″ single exists only as a demo for radio stations. It exemplifies both the whimsical nature of the album and McCartney’s use of synthesizers and other electronics in the creation of the album. McCartney claims that he viewed the song as an “experiment.” It was never performed live until more than thirty years later at the O2 Arena in London on May 23, 2015.

Reception

Music website Allmusic.com said of the album, McCartney II:

In retrospect, the record is muddled and confused, nowhere more so than on the frazzled sequencing of “Temporary Secretary,” where McCartney spits out ridiculous lyrics with a self-consciously atonal melody over gurgling synths. Things rarely get worse than that….

In contrast, music website popmatters.com said, in reviewing the 2011 reissue of McCartney II:

“Temporary Secretary” is a manic, futuristic laser blast with an actual melody simmering underneath. It would be pointless to compare it to anything McCartney had ever done before, and would be equally so to compare it to anyone else as it couldn’t possibly be anyone else. More than any other song on either eponymous album, “Temporary Secretary” illustrates the complex nature of Paul McCartney’s musical output…

Beatles biographers Roy Carr and Tony Tyler describe the song as being built from an initial, repetitive synthesizer theme, with more substantial instrumental portions added over time, and finally an insubstantial vocal. They complain that the song was done without commitment and that it “grows irritating towards the end.

From paulmccartney.com, June 29, 2016:

Temporary Secretary’ has been met with critical acclaim from DJs on the circuit, who have praised Paul for the track’s futuristic and ahead-of-its-time synthy sound. Our question this month comes from David in the USA who wants to know whether this was intentional…

David asks: “How did you conceive of and create that great, rapid arpeggiated keyboard loop on ‘Temporary Secretary’? Were you intentionally trying to create a certain ‘mood / atmosphere’ for the song?”

We managed to grab Paul in between his hectic touring schedule to ask him. He replied: “Thanks for your question, David. The truth is I was messing around with a device known as a sequencer, which – as its title implies – allows you to create a sequence of notes, which will then repeat. Whilst experimenting I came up with the notes which form the introduction of ‘Temporary Secretary’ and it seemed to me to be a good basis for the song.”

Also worth noting:

  • A rough mix [A1] is available, in a slightly sped-up version (3:05 instead of 3:13 for the official version on “McCartney II“)
  • In December 2003, to promote New Religion presents A Secret History, a collection of electronic music recorded in the eighties and featuring Temporary Secretary, Paul McCartney authorized DJ Radio Slave to create an extended dance mix released on a promotional-only 12-inch single (limited to 500 copies).
  • In June 2004, Uncut Magazine issued a compilation titled Something For The Weekend – Paul McCartney’s Glastonbury Groove, containing a shorter edit of the Radio Slave mix.

Last updated on November 16, 2016

Lyrics

Mister Marks can you find for me
Someone strong and sweet fitting on my knee
She can keep her job if she gets it wrong
Ah, but Mister Marks I won't need her long
All I need is help for a little while
We can take dictation and learn to smile
And a temporary secretary is what I need for to do the job

I need a
Temporary secretary, temporary secretaire
Temporary secretary, temporary secretary

Mister Marks could you send her quick
'Cause my regular has been getting sick

I need a
Temporary secretary, temporary secretary

Mister Marks I can pay her well
If she comes along and can stay a spell
I will promise now that I'll treat her right
And will rarely keep her 'til late at night

I need a…

She can be a belly dancer
I don't need a true romancer
She can be a diplomat
But I don't need a girl like that
She can be a neurosurgeon
If she's doin' nothin' urgent,
What I need's a temporary, temporary secretary

I need a, I need a
Temporary secretary, temporary secretary
Temporary secretary, temporary secretary
Temporary secretary, temporary secretaire

Now Mister Marks when I send her back
Will you please make sure she stays on the right track

SPOKEN:
Well, I know how hard it is for young girls these days
in the face of everything to stay on the right track

What I need's a temporary, temporary secretary
Temporary secretary
I need a
Temporary secretaire, temporary secretary,
Temporary secretary
I need a
Temporary secretary, temporary secretary,
Temporary secretary

Officially appears on


McCartney II

Official album • Released in 1980

3:13 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Drums, Engineer, Keyboards, Mixing, Producer, Sequencer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Eddie Klein:
Mixing assistant

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Home Studio, Peasmarsh, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Spirit Of Ranachan Studio, Campbeltown, Scotland

Session Mixing:
September 1979
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

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


Temporary Secretary

12" Single • Released in 1980

3:13 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Drums, Engineer, Keyboards, Mixing, Producer, Sequencer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Eddie Klein:
Mixing assistant

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Home Studio, Peasmarsh, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Spirit Of Ranachan Studio, Campbeltown, Scotland

Session Mixing:
September 1979
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

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


McCartney II (1993)

Official album • Released in 1993

3:16 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Drums, Engineer, Keyboards, Mixing, Producer, Sequencer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Eddie Klein:
Mixing assistant

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Home Studio, Peasmarsh, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Spirit Of Ranachan Studio, Campbeltown, Scotland

Session Mixing:
September 1979
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

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


A Secret History

Official album • Released in 2003

3:15 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Drums, Engineer, Keyboards, Mixing, Producer, Sequencer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Eddie Klein:
Mixing assistant

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Home Studio, Peasmarsh, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Spirit Of Ranachan Studio, Campbeltown, Scotland

Session Mixing:
September 1979
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

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


Temporary Secretary

12" Single • Released in 2003

7:25 • Studio versionB • Radio Slave Edit

Radio Slave:
Mixing

Something For The Weekend – Paul McCartney’s Glastonbury Groove

Official album • Released in 2004

6:19 • Studio versionB1 • Radio Slave Edit - Shorter version

Radio Slave:
Mixing

Twin Freaks

Official album • Released in 2005

4:12 • Studio versionC

Paul McCartney:
Executive producer
Clive Goddard:
Mixing engineer
Freelance Hellraiser:
Producer

Session Recording:
Circa 2004
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


McCartney II - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2011

3:16 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Drums, Engineer, Keyboards, Mixing, Producer, Sequencer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Eddie Klein:
Mixing assistant

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Home Studio, Peasmarsh, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Spirit Of Ranachan Studio, Campbeltown, Scotland

Session Mixing:
September 1979
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

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


Pure McCartney (Deluxe)

Official album • Released in 2016

Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Drums, Engineer, Keyboards, Mixing, Producer, Sequencer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Eddie Klein:
Mixing assistant

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Home Studio, Peasmarsh, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Spirit Of Ranachan Studio, Campbeltown, Scotland

Session Mixing:
September 1979
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

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

Bootlegs


The Lost McCartney Album

Unofficial album • Released in 2000

3:07 • Rough mixA1

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Drums, Engineer, Keyboards, Mixing, Producer, Sequencer, Synthesizers, Vocals
Eddie Klein:
Mixing assistant

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Home Studio, Peasmarsh, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
June - July 1979
Studio:
Spirit Of Ranachan Studio, Campbeltown, Scotland

Session Mixing:
September 1979
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

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


On The Run - Hartwall Areena, Helsinki December 12, 2011

Unofficial live • Released in 2011

2:09 • Live • Pre-show music

Chris Holmes:
Dj

Concert From the concert in Helsinki, Finland on Dec 12, 2011


2015 Out There Collected Soundchecks

Unofficial live • Released in 2016

1:37 • Soundcheck

Concert From the concert in Tokyo, Japan on Apr 28, 2015


Where Footprints Never Go - Unofficial Rarities - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2016

4:08 • Studio versionC1 • Twin Freaks instrumental


Where Footprints Never Go - Unofficial Rarities - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2016

2:13 • Studio version • Pre-show mix

Chris Holmes:
Djing

Videos

Live performances

“Temporary Secretary” has been played in 70 concerts.

Latest concerts where “Temporary Secretary” has been played


Sydney • Qudos Bank Arena

Dec 12, 2017 • Part of One On One Tour







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