The Paul McCartney Project

Album This song officially appears on the Flowers In The Dirt Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1989
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

Some other McCartney / Costello songs appearing on Flowers In The Dirt

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Song facts

That Day Is Done” is one of the four songs co-written by Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello, and released on Paul McCartney’s 1989 album “Flowers In The Dirt(the other ones being “My Brave Face“, “Don’t Be Careless Love” and “You Want Her Too“). The album title “Flowers In The Dirt” was taken from the lyrics of this song.

Elvis Costello explained the origin of the song in an interview with Mojo in July 2011:

[…] The last song we wrote was That Day Is Done. Again, I had a fair opening statement of it and had all these images. It was from a real thing. It was about my grandmother’s funeral. It was sort of serious. He said, “Yes that’s all good, all those images.” But quite often when you’re writing a song about something personal, what it means to you can sometimes get in the way of what it can possibly mean to somebody else. It needed a release. He said, “It needs something like this…” and he just sat down and played the chorus. It was sort of like a moment, like Let It Be, the creation of a semi-secular gospel song. It was quite shocking when he did that bit. Then you realise that’s what he does. Then he sung the hell out of it. That’s him, really.

I ended up doing That Day Is Done with the [venerable gospel vocal group] Fairfield Four. They could hear something in it. Because it had that great stirring chorus, they could get hold of that and kill it. It was thrilling to do it with them. And funnily enough, it was with Larry Knechtel on piano, who played on Bridge Over Troubled Water, another secular gospel song. […]

From Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello:

The single moment of real tension between us came when we were cutting the track for “That Day Is Done,” but, then, it was a song about which I was almost too possessive. It was the unhappy sequel to “Veronica”. Over the time that Paul and I had been working together, my Nana’s condition had become fairly wretched. There was little more to do than anticipate the end. I thought a lot about the pageant of her farewell, wondering if I would find myself on the other side of the world when that time came. It was a fear better sung out than held inside, but it became so vivid to me that I wrote a verse in which I imagined myself as the deceased, unable to raise a voice above the mourner’s footfall.

There was applause as she stepped up
I wished that I could interrupt
I made no sign
I made no sound
I know I must stay underground

I was hearing a sound in my head that was very close to the one I later sought for “Deep Dark Truthful Mirror”—a piano-playing gospel changes and the mournful brass sound that I would soon find in the Dirty Dozen Brass Band—so it was pretty shocking to me when Paul began citing some strange, synthetic sound from a recent Human League record that he wanted to incorporate into the recording.

I just had to leave the studio for a while and walk around in the country air before I said something I might regret.

When I returned, Paul had moved on to “Don’t Be Careless Love,” one of the most beautiful melodies that he had brought to our writing sessions and into which we had inserted the horrifying images of a nightmare. It was probably the weirdest song we’d written together.

Paul was already at the microphone, delivering a perfect vocal performance in one take. The anger of ten minutes earlier completely evaporated in the face of such a beautiful piece of singing.

It might have been in that moment that I accepted we would not make this record together with the same ease and pleasure with which we’d written our songs. I wasn’t even sure if any of them were going to figure into Paul’s final plans for his album, so I took “That Day Is Done” with me on my final tour with the Confederates, and most nights we played the song in the finale of the show.

We were rehearsing in Los Angeles two days before we were due to open, when my Dad called to tell me that my Nana had died. It had been foreseeable, but it still seemed shockingly sudden. My only thought was to cancel the tour and fly home to be with him and attend the funeral, but my father wouldn’t hear of it. He said my place was on the stage. I had a show to play. That’s the job we do.

Not for the first time in my life, what I’d predicted in a song had come to pass. I did not get to attend the very scene that I had already described:

She sprinkles flowers in the dirt
That’s when a thrill becomes a hurt
I know I’ll never see her face
She walks away from my resting place

When Paul and I began writing that song, I was so wrapped up in the emotion of the verses that I’d initially resisted writing anything as obvious as a real chorus. Paul said that I was in danger of shutting the listener out of what I was trying to express.

He went over to the piano and sang:

That day is done
That day is done
I won’t be coming back
That day is done

Using a slightly different musical cadence each time. It seemed so obvious, once it was in place. I couldn’t believe that I’d not been able hear it for myself, but there was a reason I was not writing these songs alone. It’s simple when you know how, I thought, but then, this was the man who had written:

Let It Be,
Let It Be,
Let It Be.

From Vigotone:

Costello had begun performing this song as early as the Confederates fall 1987 Tour, and it was always a rousing, almost gospel number. Paul took some different approaches to the vocal lines, which interestingly enough, Elvis began to incorporate into his renditions of the song after the CD was released. Paul has given Elvis most of the credit for this one in interviews, and it is known that the impetus for the song was the death of Elvis’ grandmother. Elvis on the other hand, says that Paul developed the chorus, somewhat in the vein of “Let It Be”. Elvis sings background vocals on this one which also features brass almost in the style of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band from Spike. The words are very effective and spare, in a gospel style. This is definitely the weightiest of the four songs on the CD, and the one that will last longest. Elvis has yet to record it himself, but has continued to perform it ever since its composition.

Paul McCartney in “Club Sandwich 52, Summer 1989“:

We kept the piano (Nicky Hopkins) and vocal and added some Hovis brass to give it a silver band/New Orleans marching band feel…I said to Elvis, ‘Oh yeah, I get it, New Orleans funeral music. House is finished, right?’ It’s turned out a nice track set against everything else on the album.

From “In Their Own Words: The Producers discuss McCartney’s Flowers in the Dirt“, by Super Deluxe Edition blog:

Mitchell Froom: I did a horn arrangement on on That Day Is Done, but Paul had already sung it, the drums were done, I think the backing vocals were done, some guitar – yes, we just fleshed it out a little more. I had this idea of doing kind of a silver band, a factory band English horn arrangement, and he just let me do it, you know? He had a few comments while we were doing it, but he said, “go ahead try it”. He is very open, and it was part of the thing, he already knew how to do all the stuff he had done before, and it was a different time. He is open for input and he just sees if he likes it, it’s that simple.

Last updated on April 1, 2017

Lyrics

I feel such sorrow,
I feel such shame,
I know I won't arrive on time
Before whatever out there is gone.
What can I do, that day is done.

It's just a promise, that I made
I said I'd walk in her parade.
Hot scalding tears I thought would flow.
Still in my heart they'll never show.

That day is done, that day is done,
You know where I've gone
I won't be coming back
That day is done.

Well I recall, the time and place
When they announced her precious face.
I thought at once my heart would burst,
Still, every time is like the first.

There was applause when she stepped up.
I wished that I could interrupt
I made no sign, I made no sound
I know I must stay underground.

That day is done, that day is done.
You know where I've gone
I won't be coming back,
That day is done.

That's why she walks, or so they say.
She always knew just what I needed
Now if she would, just look my way
One time before they proceed.

She sprinkles flowers in the dirt
That's when a thrill becomes a hurt,
I know I'll never see her face.
She walks away from my resting place.

That day is done, that day is done.
You know where I've gone
I won't be coming back,
That day is done.

Officially appears on


Flowers In The Dirt

Official album • Released in 1989

4:20 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Producer, Vocals
Robbie McIntosh:
Electric guitar
Hamish Stuart:
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Chris Whitten:
Drums, Tambourine
Elvis Costello:
Backing vocals, Producer
Mitchell Froom:
Keyboards, Producer
Neil Dorfsman:
Engineer, Producer
Peter Henderson:
Engineer
Nicky Hopkins:
Piano
John Taylor:
Horn
Tony Goddard:
Horn
Ian Peters:
Euphonium
Ian Harper:
Trumpet
Richard Moakes:
Assistant engineer

Session Recording:
January - February 1988
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
September - November 1988
Studio:
Olympic Sound Studios, London

Session Mixing:
Sept - Oct 1988 or Jan 30th - Feb 4th 1989
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, or AIR Studios, or Metropolis Studios, UK

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


Flowers In The Dirt - Special Package

Official album • Released in 1990

4:20 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Producer, Vocals
Robbie McIntosh:
Electric guitar
Hamish Stuart:
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Chris Whitten:
Drums, Tambourine
Elvis Costello:
Backing vocals, Producer
Mitchell Froom:
Keyboards, Producer
Neil Dorfsman:
Engineer, Producer
Peter Henderson:
Engineer
Nicky Hopkins:
Piano
John Taylor:
Horn
Tony Goddard:
Horn
Ian Peters:
Euphonium
Ian Harper:
Trumpet
Richard Moakes:
Assistant engineer

Session Recording:
January - February 1988
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
September - November 1988
Studio:
Olympic Sound Studios, London

Session Mixing:
Sept - Oct 1988 or Jan 30th - Feb 4th 1989
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, or AIR Studios, or Metropolis Studios, UK

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


Flowers In The Dirt (1993)

Official album • Released in 1993

4:20 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Producer, Vocals
Robbie McIntosh:
Electric guitar
Hamish Stuart:
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Chris Whitten:
Drums, Tambourine
Elvis Costello:
Backing vocals, Producer
Mitchell Froom:
Keyboards, Producer
Neil Dorfsman:
Engineer, Producer
Peter Henderson:
Engineer
Nicky Hopkins:
Piano
John Taylor:
Horn
Tony Goddard:
Horn
Ian Peters:
Euphonium
Ian Harper:
Trumpet
Richard Moakes:
Assistant engineer

Session Recording:
January - February 1988
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
September - November 1988
Studio:
Olympic Sound Studios, London

Session Mixing:
Sept - Oct 1988 or Jan 30th - Feb 4th 1989
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, or AIR Studios, or Metropolis Studios, UK

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


Flowers In The Dirt (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

4:22 • Studio versionA • 2017 remaster


Flowers In The Dirt (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

4:16 • DemoB • Original Demo

Performed by:
Paul McCartneyElvis Costello
Paul McCartney:
Producer
Eddie Klein:
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 23, 1987
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Flowers In The Dirt (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

4:21 • DemoC • 1988 Demo

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Lead vocal, Percussion, Producer
Hamish Stuart:
Backing vocals, Guitar
Chris Whitten:
Backing vocals, Drums, Percussion
Elvis Costello:
Producer
Matt Butler:
Assistant recording engineer
Peter Henderson:
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 03, 1988
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Bootlegs


The McCartney - MacManus Collaboration

Unofficial album • Released in 1998

1:29 • Demo


Collaborators

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

1:31 • Demo • Paul, partial '87 studio rehearsal


Collaborators

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

5:14 • Live • Elvis and the Fairfield Four, '96 "I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray" CD


Flowers In The Dirt - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2015

4:20 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Producer, Vocals
Robbie McIntosh:
Electric guitar
Hamish Stuart:
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Chris Whitten:
Drums, Tambourine
Elvis Costello:
Backing vocals, Producer
Mitchell Froom:
Keyboards, Producer
Neil Dorfsman:
Engineer, Producer
Peter Henderson:
Engineer
Nicky Hopkins:
Piano
John Taylor:
Horn
Tony Goddard:
Horn
Ian Peters:
Euphonium
Ian Harper:
Trumpet
Richard Moakes:
Assistant engineer

Session Recording:
January - February 1988
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs:
September - November 1988
Studio:
Olympic Sound Studios, London

Session Mixing:
Sept - Oct 1988 or Jan 30th - Feb 4th 1989
Studio:
Hog Hill Studio, or AIR Studios, or Metropolis Studios, UK

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

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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