Too Many People

Written by Paul McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Ram LP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1971
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1970 (Paul McCartney was 28 years old)

Master release


Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions









Other message songs to John Lennon


Dear Friend

Officially appears on Wild Life


Related interviews


Paul McCartney: Inside the Songs

Oct 25, 2021 • From BBC Radio 4



The 1984 Playboy interview

December 1984 • From Playboy


Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.

Song facts

Too Many People” is the opening song of Paul and Linda McCartney’s 1971 album “Ram“. The lyrics were interpreted as targeting John Lennon and Yoko Ono, which Paul acknowledged years later.

I was looking at my second solo album, Ram, the other day and I remember there was one tiny little reference to John in the whole thing. He’d been doing a lot of preaching, and it got up my nose a little bit. In one song, I wrote, “Too many people preaching practices,” I think is the line. I mean, that was a little dig at John and Yoko. There wasn’t anything else on it that was about them. Oh, there was “Yoko took your lucky break and broke it in two.

Paul McCartney – From Playboy interview, 1984

At the time it was surely an understatement to say that there was “one tiny little reference” to John Lennon in this song. “Too Many People” opens with the words “Piss off,” which McCartney eventually admitted was a direct attack on Lennon.

Piss off, cake. Like, a piece of cake becomes piss off cake, And it’s nothing, it’s so harmless really, just little digs. But the first line is about “too many people preaching practices.” I felt John and Yoko were telling everyone what to do. And I felt we didn’t need to be told what to do. The whole tenor of the Beatles thing had been, like, each to his own. Freedom. Suddenly it was “You should do this.” It was just a bit the wagging finger, and I was pissed off with it. So that one got to be a thing about them.

Paul McCartney – From interview with Mojo, 2001

“Too Many People” was really a message to John across the airwaves. I did feel like he was, you know, preaching a little bit about what everyone should do, how they should live their lives, and I felt – at the time – that some of it was a bit hypocritical. So in the song “Too Many People”, I started off “Too many people preaching practices”. And it was directly aimed at John, but it was about our relationship at that time, and me feeling that I didn’t need to be preached at.

Paul McCartney – From “RAM Archive Collection“, 2012

Are there any songs which reply to John?

I don’t write anything consciously. Sometimes when I’m pissed off with John over the Apple business a line might creep in. I suppose when I wrote ‘Too many people preaching practices/Don’t let them tell you what you want to be’ was at him.

Paul McCartney – Interview with Disc And Music Echo, November 1971

I think the only [song] really where I kind of criticised [John]- and it was in my usual kind of quite veiled manner – was in ‘Too Many People’

Paul McCartney – From “RAM Archive Collection“, 2012

Following the release of Ram, John Lennon pointed out several songs that he claimed were attacks on him, among them being “Too Many People“:

There were all the bits at the beginning of Ram like ‘Too many people going underground’. Well that was us, Yoko Ono and me. And ‘You took your lucky break’, that was considering we had a lucky break to be with him.

John Lennon

From Wikipedia:

In response, Lennon wrote “How Do You Sleep?” for his album Imagine, an attack at McCartney featuring musical contributions from George Harrison. McCartney later wrote “Dear Friend”, a truce offering to Lennon, and released it on the album Wild Life with his band, Wings.

McCartney sang falsetto during parts of the bridge. The guitar solo between the second bridge and third stanza is played by Hugh McCracken. The second solo after the final bridge is accompanied by a drum stick on the side of a floor tom.

“Too Many People”, I think, is one of his best songs. That was a drum part where I couldn’t just play a straight beat – you had to think of some ways to make it a little bit more Beatle-esque, shall I say.

Denny Seiwell – From “RAM Archive Collection“, 2012

Paul didn’t play the song live during the 1972 Wings tours, but decided to play it during his 2005 US tour.


From Better than looking in the mirror — Some of Paul McCartney’s handwritten RAM lyrics -… (tumblr.com)

Last updated on April 24, 2022

The book "The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present", published in 2021, covers Paul McCartney's early Liverpool days, the Beatles, Wings, and solo careers, by pairing the lyrics of 154 of his songs with first-person commentaries of the circumstances in which they were written, the people and places that inspired them, and what he thinks of them now.

"Too Many People" is one of the 154 songs covered.

Lyrics

Too many people going underground,
Too many reaching for a piece of cake,
Too many people pulled and pushed around,
Too many waiting for that lucky break.

That was your first mistake,
You took your lucky break and broke it in two,
Now what can be done for you?
You broke it in two.

Too many people sharing party lines,

Too many people ever sleeping late,
Too many people paying parking fines,
Too many hungry people losing weight.

That was your first mistake,
You took your lucky break and broke it in two,
Now what can be done for you?
You broke it in two.

Too many people preaching practices,

Don't let ‘em tell you what you wanna be,
Too many people holding back,
This is crazy, baby, it's not like me.

That was your last mistake,
I find my love awake and waiting to be,
Now what can be done for you?
She's waiting for me.

Officially appears on


Ram

LP • Released in 1971

4:15 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
Denny Seiwell :
Cow bell, Drums, Percussion, Shaker
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mixing engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 10, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
January 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

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


Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey / Too Many People

7" Single • Released in 1971

4:15 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
Denny Seiwell :
Cow bell, Drums, Percussion, Shaker
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mixing engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 10, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
January 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

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


Ram (Mono - promotional)

Official album • Released in 1971

4:15 • Studio versionB • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
Denny Seiwell :
Cow bell, Drums, Percussion, Shaker
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mixing engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 10, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
January 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

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


Thrillington

LP • Released in 1977

4:32 • Studio versionC • Stereo • Instrumental version

Percy "Thrills" Thrillington :
Producer
Richard Hewson :
Arrangements, Orchestration
Tony Clark :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Vic Flick :
Guitar
Clem Cattini :
Drums
Herbie Flowers :
Bass
Steve Gray :
Piano
Jim Lawless :
Percussion
Alan Parsons :
Second engineer
The Swingle Singers :
Vocals
Unknown musician(s) :
Alto saxophone, Trumpet
The Mike Sammes Singers :
Vocals (?)

Session Recording:
Jun 15, 1971
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jun 16, 1971
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jun 17, 1971
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 18, 1971
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Ram (1993)

Official album • Released in 1993

4:15 • Studio versionA1993 • Stereo • 1993 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
Denny Seiwell :
Cow bell, Drums, Percussion, Shaker
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mixing engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Peter Mew :
Remastering
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 10, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
January 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

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


RAM (by DCC Compact Classics)

Official album • Released in 1993

4:15 • Studio versionA1993.1 • 1993 remaster by Steve Hoffman

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
Denny Seiwell :
Cow bell, Drums, Percussion, Shaker
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mixing engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer
Steve Hoffman :
Remastering

Session Recording:
Nov 10, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
January 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

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


Thrillington

CD • Released in 1995

4:32 • Studio versionC1995 • Stereo • Instrumental version. 1995 remaster

Percy "Thrills" Thrillington :
Producer
Richard Hewson :
Arrangements, Orchestration
Tony Clark :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Vic Flick :
Guitar
Clem Cattini :
Drums
Herbie Flowers :
Bass
Steve Gray :
Piano
Jim Lawless :
Percussion
Alan Parsons :
Second engineer
The Swingle Singers :
Vocals
Unknown musician(s) :
Alto saxophone, Trumpet
The Mike Sammes Singers :
Vocals (?)

Session Recording:
Jun 15, 1971
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jun 16, 1971
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jun 17, 1971
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 18, 1971
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Wingspan Hits And History

Official album • Released in 2001

4:13 • Studio versionA2001 • 2001 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Remastering
Denny Seiwell :
Cow bell, Drums, Percussion, Shaker
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mixing engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Peter Mew :
Remastering
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 10, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
January 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

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


Wingspan Hits And History (US version)

Official album • Released in 2001

4:13 • Studio versionA2001 • 2001 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Remastering
Denny Seiwell :
Cow bell, Drums, Percussion, Shaker
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mixing engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Peter Mew :
Remastering
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 10, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
January 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

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


Wingspan Hits And History (Japanese version)

Official album • Released in 2001

4:13 • Studio versionA2001 • 2001 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Remastering
Denny Seiwell :
Cow bell, Drums, Percussion, Shaker
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mixing engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Peter Mew :
Remastering
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 10, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
January 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

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


Bootlegs


Live In Iowa 2005

Unofficial live

3:31 • Live

Concert From the concert in Des Moines, USA on Oct 27, 2005


The Alternate Ram

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

4:14 • Studio versionB • Mono • Original mono promo LP, especially made for the American AM stations. All the songs have different mixes.

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Bass, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals, Producer
Denny Seiwell :
Cow bell, Drums, Percussion, Shaker
Hugh McCracken :
Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar
Eirik Wangberg :
Mixing engineer
Phil Ramone :
Recording engineer
Jim Guercio :
Recording engineer
Tim Geelan :
Recording engineer
Ted Brosnan :
Assistant recording engineer
Dixon Van Winkle :
Assistant recording engineer
Armin Steiner :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 10, 1970
Studio :
CBS Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
January 1971
Studio :
A&R Studios, New York City

Session Overdubs:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

Session Mixing:
March-April 1971
Studio :
Sunset Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, USA

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


Toronto A. C. C.

Unofficial live • Released in 2005

3:30 • Live

Concert From the concert in Toronto, Canada on Oct 10, 2005


Chronicles in the Backyard Disc 11

Unofficial album • Released in 2006

Live


All Access Program

Unofficial live • Released in 2006

3:28 • Live

Concert From the concert in Miami, USA on Sep 16, 2005


Live performances

“Too Many People” has been played in 30 concerts.

Latest concerts where Too Many People has been played


400e Anniversaire De Quebec

Jul 20, 2008 • Canada • Quebec City • Plains Of Abraham






Contribute!

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Mona 6 years ago

Pretty sure Paul played the solos on Too Many People. There was an interview with McCracken himself, unfortunately I can't find the website anymore as I read it quite some time ago, where he talks about Paul doing it in one take.


The PaulMcCartney Project 6 years ago

Thanks Mona. You're right! Reading Luca Perasi on "Paul McCartney - Recording Sessions (1969-2013)":

"McCracken recalled that McCartney had recorded the blistering central solo in a single take. A funny cacophonic of many overdubbed acoustic guitars ends the track"


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