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
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

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

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.

Last updated on May 5, 2019

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:
Engineer
Campbell Maloney:
Military snares
Kenneth Sillito:
Orchestra lead, Violin
Jon Jacobs:
Second engineer
Keith Harvey:
Cello
John Underwood:
Viola
Patrick Halling:
Violin
Dennis Vigay:
Cello
Laurie Lewis:
Violin
Mike Stavrou:
Second 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

Tug Of War

7" Single • Released in 1982

4:07 • Studio version


Wingspan Hits And History

Official album • Released in 2001

4:05 • Studio version


Tug Of War - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2015

4:23 • Studio version • 2015 remix


Tug Of War - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2015

Studio version

Bootlegs


Tug Of Peace

Unofficial album

4:03 • Outtake


UK Singles Collection - Volume 02

Unofficial album • Released in 2007

4:07 • Studio version


Tug Of War Sessions

Unofficial album • Released in 2015

3:36 • Alternate take • Backing Track w/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

Album • Tug Of War

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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