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Released in 1989

You Want Her Too

Written by Paul McCartneyDeclan MacManus / Elvis Costello

Last updated on July 29, 2022

Album This song officially appears on the Flowers In The Dirt Official album.

Timeline This song was officially released in 1989

Timeline This song was written, or began to be written, in 1987, when Paul McCartney was 45 years old)

Master album

Related sessions

This song was recorded during the following studio sessions:

Some other McCartney / Costello songs appearing on Flowers In The Dirt

You Want Her Too” is one of the four songs co-written by Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello, and released on Paul McCartney’s 1989 album “Flowers In The Dirt(the other ones being “My Brave Face“, “Don’t Be Careless Love” and “That Day Is Done“). By its theme (competing for a woman), the song is a reminiscence of another collaboration of Paul – “The Girl Is Mine” with Michael Jackson.

From Vigotone.com:

“You Want Her Too” is another great pop song that smacks of Beatles influence. This is the song that the composers [Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello] cite as worrying them that Elvis was unconsciously assuming Lennon’s old role a bit too much, in placing a hard edge opposite Paul’s softness and contrasting his point of view. It was initially recorded with Paul doing both vocal parts, but it was decided quite rightly that the duet approach made more sense. Lyrically, it is fun to hear anyone, especially Elvis, give McCartney a tongue lashing, and Elvis uses his most sneering vocal for it. The lyrics are rather simple, and this allows for some acting by the singers. Musically, we have some great drums and organ in the background reminiscent of the one in “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite“. Listen to the 60’s style guitars in the right channel and the elongated “predictable and nice” singing.

Paul McCartney in “Club Sandwich 52, Summer 1989“:

I said to Elvis, ‘Look, this is really getting a bit me and John!…I’m going ‘I’ve loved her so long’ and he’s going ‘I know you did, you stupid git!”… The intro and the fade we decided to have a… strange carousel thing we’d worked up. It was a silly little idea of mine that I think works…I’d had this idea about a little guitar thing that Hamish had played in the instrumental bit: I’d always been hearing it like a big brass band. So we actually got a big band in one morning, and it’s the ultimate tease, because…as soon as you’re into them they fade!

From “In Their Own Words: The Producers discuss McCartney’s Flowers in the Dirt“, by Super Deluxe Edition blog:

Mitchell Froom: Elvis Costello sang on it when they originally did it, but then came the notion of like “well, what if Paul does both parts, but we treat it in such a way where it’s like the voice in his head?” But when we tried it, it didn’t sound as good, so I think he finally just said “Let’s just get Elvis to do it, it sounds better”.

Elvis wasn’t around at all [during my work on the album] except for that day he did the vocal on You Want Her Too. But it was very friendly. There was no strangeness. Elvis understands as well as anybody that you make your record, you want to be happy with what you do.

Paul McCartney, in People Music, March 24, 2017:

“That was from the Elvis batch. He’s a great guy to work with, very focused. When you’re working with someone—instead of just sitting around and thinking, ‘Oh, what are we going to do?’—it’s nice when someone comes up with something and you get a kickstart. Elvis was good at that. He would come up and we’d talk stories about his Auntie Irene and various relatives of his and mine growing up in Liverpool. This song came out of that. It’s got sort of a sea-shanty feel. We didn’t take long to write them, they just kind of fell out.”

The only duet on the album, Costello echoes McCartney’s lyrics with acidic barbs. 

“That’s a good old trick. We both love the art of songwriting, we’re still intrigued by it. Little things like having a cynical answer to a line—that’s the kind of thing I did a long time ago, like in [the 1967 Beatles song] ‘Getting Better’ where I sing, ‘It’s getting better all the time,’ and John sings, ‘It couldn’t get much worse.’ Otherwise you’re just writing a song straightforward. That’s good too, but it’s kind of nice to have little things that bounce off each other, that yin-yang thing.”

You can take [‘You Want Her Too’] two ways. It’s either a conscience talking to him or another guy. We imagined a Tom and Jerry cartoon, where there’s an angel and a devil above, and one says, ‘Go ahead, do it,’ and the other says, ‘No don’t do it.’

Paul McCartney – Interview with Rolling Stone, June 15, 1989

The song was supposed to be like one of those old Hollywood movie sequences in which the hero is tempted by a little devil on one shoulder and consoled by an angel on the other. I knew what people would say if Paul sang all the sweet lines and I had the sarcastic replies, but as Paul said later, ‘It was just hard to resist.’

Elvis Costello – From “Unfaithful Music


She makes me go so wrong

(Yeah you kept me awake you know you did)

I’ve loved her oh so long

(So why don’t you come right out and say it, stupid?)

She makes me do things I don’t want to do

I don’t know why I should be telling you

I know that you want her too

My intentions are quite sincere

(That’s not what you said the other night)

And all you can do is sneer

(So go ahead and kid yourself you’re right)

She makes me do things I don’t want to do

I don’t know why I should be telling you

I know that you want her too

I’ve got a better chance than you do

I know that you want her too

You’re such a hopeless romantic

She told me you’re so predictable and nice

She only did you a favour once or twice

Once or twice

She makes me go so wrong

(So why don’t you lie back and enjoy it?)

Oh, my conscience is clear and strong

(Yes, she says I’m just the boy for it)

She makes me do things I don’t want to do

I don’t know why I should be telling you

I know that you want her too

I know that you want her too

I know that you want her too


  • A Album version
  • A2017 2017 remaster
  • B Original Demo
  • C 1988 Demo

Officially appears on


See all bootlegs containing “You Want Her Too

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.

Going further

Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989

With 25 albums of pop music, 5 of classical – a total of around 500 songs – released over the course of more than half a century, Paul McCartney's career, on his own and with Wings, boasts an incredible catalogue that's always striving to free itself from the shadow of The Beatles. The stories behind the songs, demos and studio recordings, unreleased tracks, recording dates, musicians, live performances and tours, covers, events: Music Is Ideas Volume 1 traces McCartney's post-Beatles output from 1970 to 1989 in the form of 346 song sheets, filled with details of the recordings and stories behind the sessions. Accompanied by photos, and drawing on interviews and contemporary reviews, this reference book draws the portrait of a musical craftsman who has elevated popular song to an art-form.

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