The Paul McCartney Project

Tug Of War

Written by Paul McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Tug Of War Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1982
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1981 (Paul McCartney was 39 years old)

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions






Mixing "Tug Of War"

Dec 13, 1981


Remixing "Tug Of War" album

March 2nd to March 31st, 2015

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Song facts

Tug of War” is the title track from Paul McCartney’s 1982 album Tug of War. From Wikipedia:

[…] Rolling Stone described the song as McCartney’s equivalent to John Lennon’s “Imagine“. To others, however, “Pipes of Peace” is. The song has a clear division between the verses featuring sad lyrics about the struggle to survive, the necessity of conflict (pushing and pulling) and the hopeful refrain, in which McCartney looks for a future where these struggles are no longer necessary. The lyrics are seen as describing his complex relationship with Lennon, who was killed two years prior.

The single reached number 53 in the UK and number 53 in the US.

The album version starts with the sounds of people grunting as part of a real tug of war – a popular sporting event since ancient times, before Paul goes into the song, and then at the end of the song, it fades into “Take It Away“. The single version omits these factors.

From an interview with Newsweek, May 1982:

Did you have John Lennon in mind [when writing the Tug Of War album]?

No. But halfway through it, John was killed. I can’t believe it to this day, I can’t even say those words…But “Here Today” is the only song specifically about that. Obviously, “Tug of War” ties in…And so does “Somebody Who Cares.” I remember being aware of John’s death while writing it.

Paul McCartney

From an interview with Andy McKay, for Club Sandwich:

You’ve got a few songs you’ve been working on, you’re waiting to record, and in the middle of them was this song called “Tug Of War”, and as that had started by me liking the title and the idea, and seeing that it applied to more than just a sport, I did the song and started just to kind of plonk that in amongst these others that were, you know, ready to go anyway. Any lyrics I had to finish up a little bit would be governed by the new idea of a theme, so I didn’t really want to get too hung up on a theme, ‘cos it’s like everything regimented, and nothing flowing, and I wouldn’t have wanted that really, ‘cos I like the idea of a little bit of regimentation but a lot of stuff that was just kind of free-flying amongst it all. That’s why I kind of say this is a sort of loose concept, sort of starts with a concept, flows into some stuff that you could vaguely say was in the concept, but it starts sort of free-flowing all over the place. But eventually, by the time it gets to the end of the album, it sort of returns to the concept. So you know it’s just like a very loose one.

Paul McCartney

On the orchestra, we were quite happy with it, but we just weren’t ‘over the top’ happy with it. So we decided to do it again. With George Martin, it was, ‘Oh, come on, let’s really get it right,’ and that attitude really made the album enjoyable, because you know that by the time you finish the album, you’re going to have an album that you started off wanting.

Paul McCartney, from Badman, Keith. The Beatles: The Dream Is Over – Off The Record 2 (p. 303).
Paul’s handwritten lyrics for Tug Of War – From the “Tug Of War Archive Collection” @ 2015 MPL Communications Inc

Last updated on May 9, 2020

Lyrics

It's a tug of war
What with one thing and another
It's a tug of war
We expected more
But with one thing and another
We were trying to outdo each other
In a tug of war

In another world
In another world we could

Stand on top of the mountain
With our flag unfurled
In time to come
In time to come we will be
Dancing to the beat played
On a different drum

It's a tug of war
Though I know I mustn't grumble
It's a tug of war
But I can't let go
If I do you'll take a tumble
And the whole thing is going to crumble
It's a tug of war

Pushing pushing, pulling pulling
Pushing and pulling

In years to come they may discover
What the air we breathe and the life we lead
Are all about
But it won't be soon enough
Soon enough for me
No it won't be soon enough
Soon enough for me

In another world we could
Stand on top of the mountain
With our flag unfurled
In a time to come we will be
Dancing to the beat played on a different drum

We will be dancing to the beat
Played on a different drum
We will be dancing to the beat
Played on a different drum

It's a tug of war, a tug of war
A tug of war
What with one thing and another
It's a tug of war
We expected more
but with one thing and another
We were trying to outscore each other
In a tug of war

Officially appears on


Tug Of War

Official album • Released in 1982

4:22 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Arrangement, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Synthesizers, Vocal
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Denny Laine :
Electric guitar
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Campbell Maloney :
Military snares
Kenneth Sillito :
Orchestra lead, Violin
Jon Jacobs :
Assistant mixing engineer, Assistant recording engineer
Keith Harvey :
Cello
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Mike Stavrou :
Assistant recording engineer
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
David Ogden :
Violin
Nicolas Reader :
Bassoon

Session Recording:
Jan 21, 1981
Studio :
Parkgate Studio, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
Mar 01, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, Montserrat

Session Overdubs:
March - December 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Dec 13, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK


Tug Of War / Get It

7" Single • Released in 1982

4:07 • Studio versionA1 • Single edit

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Arrangement, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Synthesizers, Vocal
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Denny Laine :
Electric guitar
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Campbell Maloney :
Military snares
Kenneth Sillito :
Orchestra lead, Violin
Jon Jacobs :
Assistant mixing engineer, Assistant recording engineer
Keith Harvey :
Cello
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Mike Stavrou :
Assistant recording engineer
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
David Ogden :
Violin
Nicolas Reader :
Bassoon

Session Recording:
Jan 21, 1981
Studio :
Parkgate Studio, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
Mar 01, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, Montserrat

Session Overdubs:
March - December 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Dec 13, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK


Tug Of War (1993)

Official album • Released in 1993

4:22 • Studio versionA1993 • 1993 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Arrangement, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Synthesizers, Vocal
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Denny Laine :
Electric guitar
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Campbell Maloney :
Military snares
Kenneth Sillito :
Orchestra lead, Violin
Jon Jacobs :
Assistant mixing engineer, Assistant recording engineer
Keith Harvey :
Cello
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Mike Stavrou :
Assistant recording engineer
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
David Ogden :
Violin
Nicolas Reader :
Bassoon

Session Recording:
Jan 21, 1981
Studio :
Parkgate Studio, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
Mar 01, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, Montserrat

Session Overdubs:
March - December 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Dec 13, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK


Wingspan Hits And History

Official album • Released in 2001

4:05 • Studio versionA2001 • 2001 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Arrangement, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Synthesizers, Vocal
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Denny Laine :
Electric guitar
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer, Remastering
Campbell Maloney :
Military snares
Kenneth Sillito :
Orchestra lead, Violin
Jon Jacobs :
Assistant mixing engineer, Assistant recording engineer
Keith Harvey :
Cello
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Mike Stavrou :
Assistant recording engineer
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
David Ogden :
Violin
Nicolas Reader :
Bassoon
Peter Mew :
Remastering

Session Recording:
Jan 21, 1981
Studio :
Parkgate Studio, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
Mar 01, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, Montserrat

Session Overdubs:
March - December 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Dec 13, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK


Tug Of War - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2015

4:23 • Studio versionB • 2015 remix

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Arrangement, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Remixing, Synthesizers, Vocal
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Denny Laine :
Electric guitar
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Campbell Maloney :
Military snares
Kenneth Sillito :
Orchestra lead, Violin
Jon Jacobs :
Assistant recording engineer
Keith Harvey :
Cello
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Mike Stavrou :
Assistant recording engineer
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
David Ogden :
Violin
Nicolas Reader :
Bassoon
Alex Wharton :
Mastering
Steve Orchard :
Remixing

Session Recording:
Jan 21, 1981
Studio :
Parkgate Studio, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
Mar 01, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, Montserrat

Session Overdubs:
March - December 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Mar 02, 2015
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Tug Of War - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2015

Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Arrangement, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Synthesizers, Vocal
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Denny Laine :
Electric guitar
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Campbell Maloney :
Military snares
Kenneth Sillito :
Orchestra lead, Violin
Jon Jacobs :
Assistant mixing engineer, Assistant recording engineer
Keith Harvey :
Cello
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Mike Stavrou :
Assistant recording engineer
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
David Ogden :
Violin
Nicolas Reader :
Bassoon

Session Recording:
Jan 21, 1981
Studio :
Parkgate Studio, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
Mar 01, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, Montserrat

Session Overdubs:
March - December 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Dec 13, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Bootlegs


Tug Of Peace

Unofficial album

4:03 • Studio versionA1 • Single version

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Arrangement, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Synthesizers, Vocal
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Denny Laine :
Electric guitar
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Campbell Maloney :
Military snares
Kenneth Sillito :
Orchestra lead, Violin
Jon Jacobs :
Assistant mixing engineer, Assistant recording engineer
Keith Harvey :
Cello
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Mike Stavrou :
Assistant recording engineer
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
David Ogden :
Violin
Nicolas Reader :
Bassoon

Session Recording:
Jan 21, 1981
Studio :
Parkgate Studio, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
Mar 01, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, Montserrat

Session Overdubs:
March - December 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Dec 13, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK


UK Singles Collection - Volume 02

Unofficial album • Released in 2007

4:07 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Arrangement, Backing vocals, Bass, Drums, Electric guitar, Synthesizers, Vocal
Linda McCartney :
Backing vocals
Denny Laine :
Electric guitar
Eric Stewart :
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Campbell Maloney :
Military snares
Kenneth Sillito :
Orchestra lead, Violin
Jon Jacobs :
Assistant mixing engineer, Assistant recording engineer
Keith Harvey :
Cello
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Mike Stavrou :
Assistant recording engineer
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
David Ogden :
Violin
Nicolas Reader :
Bassoon

Session Recording:
Jan 21, 1981
Studio :
Parkgate Studio, Sussex, UK

Session Recording:
Mar 01, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, Montserrat

Session Overdubs:
March - December 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Dec 13, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK


Tug Of War Sessions

Unofficial album • Released in 2015

3:36 • Alternate take • Backing Track with single vocal


Tug Of War Sessions

Unofficial album • Released in 2015

2:22 • Alternate take • Guitars + Backing vocals + orchestra (5.1 mix)


Tug Of War Sessions

Unofficial album • Released in 2015

4:04 • Alternate take • Orchestra Mix


Videos

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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