The Paul McCartney Project

The Song We Were Singing

Written by Paul McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Flaming Pie Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1997
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1995 (Paul McCartney was 53 years old)

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions


Home recordings

Circa 1995



Other Flaming Pie songs written in Jamaica, January 1995


Souvenir

Officially appears on Flaming Pie


Little Willow

Officially appears on Flaming Pie

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Song facts

The Song We Were Singing” is the opening song of the 1997 album “Flaming Pie“.

I was remembering the Sixties, sitting around late at night, dossing, smoking pipes, drinking wine…jawing, talking about the cosmic solution. It was what we were all doing…all that “What about…wow!” It’s that time in your life when you got a chance for all that.

Paul McCartney, from the liner notes of “Flaming Pie”
Paul McCartney, in Club Sandwich n°82, Summer 1997:

The song represents for me good memories of the Sixties, of dossing around late at night, chatting, smoking, drinking wine, hanging out, jawing through the night. I think it works as an opening track – it creeps you into the album and sets it up nicely. I played Bill Black’s stand-up bass on the recording; it’s the wrong way around for me, being left-handed, but I have a go – and I can just about play ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ on it as well.

Mark Lewisohn, in Club Sandwich n°82, Summer 1997:

Written in Jamaica inside the first dozen days of January 1995, ‘The Song We Were Singing’ was the opening number taped by Paul in his initial sessions with Jeff Lynne, which took place some nine months after the pair had last worked together: on the Beatles’ ‘Real Love‘. ‘The Song We Were Singing’ set the pattern for the songs that would follow, with Paul and Jeff playing guitars, as a foundation on to which they built the other instrumental and vocal tracks. Their aim, successfully achieved, was to adhere to the spirit of Paul’s roughly-recorded demo, evoking memories of the 1960s, when many a late night was enjoyed “chatting, smoking, drinking wine, hanging out… and discussing the vast intricacies of life”. (The demo was laid into the multi-track tape as a guide for the studio recording, each element of the original being carefully listened to and then copied as close as possible, section by section, until the piece was complete.) Among the instruments played here by Paul is the stand-up bass originally owned by Bill Black and used by the Sun session player on all of Elvis Presley’s earliest and greatest hits – including ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, the recording that seized the soul and assaulted the senses of a schoolboy Paul McCartney in 1956. (A few bits of hay and a 1956 guitar-string packet were recently found inside the bass.) With his own Bill Black’s Combo, Bill went on to play in the Beatles’ record-breaking Shea Stadium concert in August 1965, but died soon afterwards, at which point his stand-up bass was left to lie in a barn, slowly decaying. Linda McCartney stopped the rot when she bought it as the ultimate birthday present for her Elvis-mad husband in June 1974.

Did that one, had fun, just enjoyed working, pretty much on the same basis that I worked with Steve [Miller], virtually just me and him doing it all. Now it was me and Jeff just doing it all. He’d play guitar with me and I played bass and drums, and then he’d sing harmony with me — it’s good having somebody like that who’s a guitarist-singer, if you think about it, because it’s John, really, isn’t it? Or George. So it’s something I’m very comfortable with. And we just built the album that way.

Paul McCartney, about working on “The Song We Were Singing” with Jeff Lynne, from the Flaming Pie Archive Collection, 2020

This was a song that we kept very faithful to the original demo, because you can lose that feel, that atmosphere and all the inspiration if you’re not careful. It was a bit like ‘Real Love’ or ‘Free As A Bird’ in that way.”

Paul McCartney, from Badman, Keith. The Beatles: Off The Record 2 – The Dream is Over: Dream Is Over Vol 2

The Song We Were Singing” was remastered in 2016 for inclusion on the “Pure McCartney” compilation, and then in 2020 for the “Flaming Pie Archive Collection“, both times by engineer Alex Wharton. As explained on the Steve Hoffman forum:

It’s interesting that for both ‘Pure McCartney’ in 2016 and the new 2020 remaster the polarity is different. Which means something went wrong in the final mastering stage of the original 1997 issue. Because ‘Pure McCartney’ worked from a compressed and limited 1997 master, and this 2020 remaster from a tape without that compression and limiting.

by forum resident “mindgames”

Last updated on September 17, 2020

Lyrics

For a while, we could sit, smoke a pipe
And discuss all the vast intricacies of life
We could jaw through the night
Talk about a range of subjects, anything you like
Oh yeah

But we always came back to the song we were singing
At any particular time
Yeah, we always came back to the song we were singing
At any particular time

Take a sip, see the world through a glass
And speculate about the cosmic solution
To the sound, blue guitars
Caught up in a philosophical discussion
Oh yeah

But we always came back to the song we were singing
At any particular time
Yeah, we always came back to the songs we were singing
At any particular time

For a while, we could sit, smoke a pipe
And discuss all the vast intricacies of life
We could jaw through the night
Talk about a range of subjects, anything you like
Oh yeah

But we always came back to the song we were singing
At any particular time
Yeah, we always came back to the song we were singing
At any particular time
Yeah, we always came back

Take a sip, see the world through a glass
And speculate about the cosmic solution
To the sound, blue guitars
Caught up in a philosophical discussion
Oh yeah

Variations


A Album version

A1 Different Mix

A2016 2016 remaster

A2020 2020 remaster

B Home Recording

C Rough mix

Officially appears on


Flaming Pie

Official album • Released in 1997

3:52 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar, Double bass, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harmony vocal, Lead vocal, Producer
Jeff Lynne :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar, Harmony vocal, Keyboard, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Marc Mann :
Digital sequencing

Session Recording:
Nov 06-10, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs ?:
February 1996
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Flaming Pies

Official album • Released in 1997

3:52 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar, Double bass, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harmony vocal, Lead vocal, Producer
Jeff Lynne :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar, Harmony vocal, Keyboard, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Marc Mann :
Digital sequencing

Session Recording:
Nov 06-10, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs ?:
February 1996
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Flaming Pie (White-Label Promo LP)

Official album • Released in 1997

3:52 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar, Double bass, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harmony vocal, Lead vocal, Producer
Jeff Lynne :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar, Harmony vocal, Keyboard, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Marc Mann :
Digital sequencing

Session Recording:
Nov 06-10, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs ?:
February 1996
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Pure McCartney

Official album • Released in 2016

3:55 • Studio versionA2016 • 2016 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar, Double bass, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harmony vocal, Lead vocal, Producer
Jeff Lynne :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar, Harmony vocal, Keyboard, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Marc Mann :
Digital sequencing
Alex Wharton :
Remastering

Session Recording:
Nov 06-10, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs ?:
February 1996
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Pure McCartney (Deluxe)

Official album • Released in 2016

3:55 • Studio versionA2016 • 2016 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar, Double bass, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harmony vocal, Lead vocal, Producer
Jeff Lynne :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar, Harmony vocal, Keyboard, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Marc Mann :
Digital sequencing
Alex Wharton :
Remastering

Session Recording:
Nov 06-10, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs ?:
February 1996
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Flaming Pie - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2020

3:55 • Studio versionA2020 • 2020 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar, Double bass, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harmony vocal, Lead vocal, Producer
Jeff Lynne :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar, Harmony vocal, Keyboard, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Marc Mann :
Digital sequencing
Alex Wharton :
Remastering

Session Recording:
Nov 06-10, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs ?:
February 1996
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Flaming Pie - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2020

5:25 • DemoB • Home Recording

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocal
Alex Wharton :
Mastering

Session Recording:
Circa 1995


Flaming Pie - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2020

3:50 • Rough mixC • Rough mix

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Vocal
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Alex Wharton :
Mastering

Session Recording:
Nov 06-10, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Mixing:
Nov 06-10, 1995 ?
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Bootlegs


Flaming Pie - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2016

3:55 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar, Double bass, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harmony vocal, Lead vocal, Producer
Jeff Lynne :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar, Harmony vocal, Keyboard, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Marc Mann :
Digital sequencing

Session Recording:
Nov 06-10, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs ?:
February 1996
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Flaming Pie Sessions

Unofficial album • Released in 2016

3:52 • Rough mixA1 • Different Mix

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar, Double bass, Electric guitar, Harmonium, Harmony vocal, Lead vocal, Producer
Jeff Lynne :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar, Harmony vocal, Keyboard, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Jon Jacobs :
Recording engineer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Marc Mann :
Digital sequencing

Session Recording:
Nov 06-10, 1995
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Session Overdubs ?:
February 1996
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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