- Album This song officially appears on the McCartney III Official album.
- Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1992 (Paul McCartney was 50 years old)
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“When Winter Comes” is the final track from 2020 album “McCartney III“. The history of the song started 28 years before, as it was recorded on September 3, 1992, along with “Calico Skies” and “Great Day“.
Recorded earlier this year in Sussex, McCartney III is mostly built from live takes of Paul on vocals and guitar or piano, overdubbing his bass playing, drumming, etc. atop that foundation. The process first sparked when Paul returned to an unreleased track from the early 90s, ’When Winter Comes’ (co-produced by George Martin). Paul crafted a new passage for the song, giving rise to album opener ’Long Tailed Winter Bird’—while ’When Winter Comes’, featuring its new 2020 intro ’Winter Bird’, became the new album’s grand finale.
The album comes full circle when it ends on the riff from the opening track, ‘Long Tailed Winter Bird’, and segues into ‘When Winter Comes’, which you recorded years ago with George Martin, right?
Yes. There’s nothing on that track – it’s just me – but I made a track called ‘Calico Skies’ a while ago [for the 1997 album Flaming Pie], which George produced. And at the same time, because I was in the studio and had an extra minute or so, I had this other song, so I said, ‘let me knock this one off.’ That was ‘When Winter Comes’, and I mention George because it was on a George Martin produced session, but is just me on the guitar. It was nearly going to be a bonus extra that was going to be on a reissue of Flaming Pie, but I’d just been reading that great book on Elvis, Last Train to Memphis, and it mentioned a song and said you’ve probably never heard it because it was buried as a bonus on the B-side of an album. So I thought, no, I’d rather have this one as a proper track. And we finished the album with it because it was the reason for doing the whole thing, because me and my mate Geoff Dunbar, who’s an animation director, were talking about making an animated film to that song. So that’s where the opening and closing tracks come from, which got me into the studio in the first place.Paul McCartney – from an interview with Stuart Stubbs, from Loud And Quiet magazine, October 2020
There’s a lovely bit on “Winter Bird/When Winter Comes” where you sing, “Must fix the fence by the acre plot… dig a drain by the carrot patch…” That could be you in 1970.
It’s me, remembering that period and writing a song from the point of view of that man, making a home for hisPaul McCartney, in UNCUT interview, January 2021
family in the countryside. That’s what I used to do. Paint the roof, fix the drains, fix the fence, whatever. I know a lot of people these days are getting into that. It’s very satisfying. In my case, the horror was how heavy The Beatles’ situation had become, but for a lot of people these days it’s the horror of what’s going on with the world – particularly this year with Covid. I just want to plant some vegetables for my family and see them grow. I got very ambitious. I made a kitchen table. I’m incredibly proud of it.
Last updated on November 21, 2020
Must dig a drain by the carrot patch
When summer’s gone, we’ll fly away
And find the sun when winter comes
Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.