When Winter Comes

Written by Paul McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the McCartney III Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 2020
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1992 (Paul McCartney was 50 years old)

Song facts

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“.

‘When Winter Comes’ was originally recorded in 1992 with George Martin at the mixing desk. The song was recorded at the same time as “Calico Skies” and “Great Day” and unearthed during the research for Paul’s 2020 ‘Flaming Pie’ reissue. Considering the song too good to be released as a bonus track, Paul decided to make a short film to accompany it. As Paul recorded the short introductory piece of music for the film, the world went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From Spotify Storyline. Storyline is a feature of Spotify that gives behind-the-scenes information from artists about their songs, presented with a carousel of cards featuring a combination of text and images.

This song is kind of an idealistic thing, a hippy existence on a farm, planting trees, mending fences and living the good life which is something I like, I love nature and I love that idea of getting down and getting your hands dirty.

Paul McCartney – from the “McCartney III” Tim’s Twitter Listening Party, December 21, 2020

From the “McCartney III” press release:

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 his 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.

Paul McCartney, in UNCUT interview, January 2021

The animated short film made by Geoff Dunbar was released on streaming platforms, on December 22, 2020.

In 2021, for the “McCartney III Imagined” project, American singer and songwriter Anderson .Paak reimagined “When Winter Comes“.

From Universal Music – Calling all musicians – McCartney III is almost here! Teasers are popping up in cities across the globe, sharing excerpts of the sheet music from each song.We would love to see your takes on each song. Join in the fun by recording your own version! – In Rio
Screenshot of Spotify Storyline

Lyrics

VERSE 1
Must fix the fence by the acre plot
Two young foxes have been nosing around
The lambs and the chickens won’t feel safe until it’s done

VERSE 2
I must dig a drain by the carrot patch
The whole crop spoils if it gets too damp
And where will we be with an empty store
When winter comes

CHORUS
When winter comes
And food is scarce
We’ll warn our toes
To stay indoors
When summer’s gone
We’ll fly away
And find the sun
When winter comes

VERSE 3
I must find the time to plant some trees
In the meadow where the river flows
In time to come they’ll make good shade for some poor soul

[Repeat chorus]
[Repeat verse 1]
[Repeat chorus]

And find the sun
When winter comes

Officially appears on


McCartney III (Test pressing)

Official album • Released in 2020

2:47 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Bob Kraushaar :
Recording engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
September 3, 1992
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

McCartney III

Official album • Released in 2020

2:47 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Bob Kraushaar :
Recording engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
September 3, 1992
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

McCartney III (Deluxe Edition Blue Cover CD)

Official album • Released in 2020

2:47 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Bob Kraushaar :
Recording engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
September 3, 1992
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

McCartney III (Deluxe Edition Red Cover CD)

Official album • Released in 2020

2:47 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Bob Kraushaar :
Recording engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
September 3, 1992
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

McCartney III (Deluxe Edition White Cover CD)

Official album • Released in 2020

2:47 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Bob Kraushaar :
Recording engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
September 3, 1992
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

McCartney III (Deluxe Edition Yellow Cover CD)

Official album • Released in 2020

2:47 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Bob Kraushaar :
Recording engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
September 3, 1992
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

McCartney III (Deluxe Digital Album)

Official album • Released in 2020

2:47 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Bob Kraushaar :
Recording engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
September 3, 1992
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

McCartney III (Japanese edition - Limited release)

Official album • Released in 2020

2:47 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Bob Kraushaar :
Recording engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
September 3, 1992
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

McCartney III (Smoky Tint Cassette)

Cassette • Released in 2020

2:47 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Bob Kraushaar :
Recording engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
September 3, 1992
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

McCartney III (Green cover, CD)

Official album • Released in 2020

2:47 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Keith Smith :
Assistant engineer
Bob Kraushaar :
Recording engineer
Steve Orchard :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
September 3, 1992
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK

Latest concerts where When Winter Comes has been played

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.

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