Band on the Run (song)

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"Band on the Run"
French single sleeve
Single by Paul McCartney and Wings
from the album Band on the Run
B-side "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five" (US)
"Zoo Gang" (UK)
Released 8 April 1974 (US)
28 June 1974 (UK)
Format 7" single
Recorded September 1973
Genre Rock
Length 5:09 (album and single versions)
3:50 (radio edit)
Label Apple
Writer(s) Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney
Producer(s) Paul McCartney
Certification Gold (RIAA, 4 June 1974)[1]
Gold (BPI, 1 September 1974)[2]
Paul McCartney and Wings singles chronology
"Band on the Run"
"Junior's Farm"
Band on the Run track listing
Alternative covers
Spanish cover with "Zoo Gang" on b-side

"Band on the Run" is the title song from Paul McCartney and Wings' 1973 album Band on the Run. With a general theme of freedom, the song's lyrics were partly inspired by comments made by Paul McCartney's former bandmate, George Harrison. The song was released as a single in 1974, becoming an international chart success. It has since become one of the band's most famous songs.

The single sold one million copies in 1974 in the U.S., where it reached number 1, and it went to number 3 in the UK.[3][4]


The song is a three part medley. The parts are thematically related, but do not necessarily form a continuous narrative. Paul McCartney was inspired by George Harrison in the first line of the second part of the medley: "If we ever get out of here." He reportedly said these words during one of the Beatles' many business meetings.[5]

It's just a good flow of words. I really don't analyze stuff, and if I do I kind of remember what it meant about three months later, just lying in bed one night. It started off with 'If I ever get out of here.' That came from a remark George made at one of the Apple meetings. He was saying that we were all prisoners in some way, some kind of remark like that. 'If we ever get out of here,' the prison bit, and I thought that would be a nice way to start an album. A million reasons, really. I can never lay them all down. It's a million things, I don't like to analyze them, all put together. Band on the run - escaping, freedom, criminals. You name it, it's there.

—Paul McCartney, Paul McCartney: In His Own Words[6]

It was symbolic: 'If we ever get out of here... All I need is a pint a day'. It was feeling like that, the whole thing. Because we’d been...if you think about it, we’d started off as just kids really, who loved our music and wanted to earn a bob or two so we could get a guitar and get a nice car. It was very simple ambitions at first. But then, you know, as it went on it became business meetings and all of that, and eventually it was really not fun. You’d have to go into these meetings. So there was a feeling of ‘if we ever get out of here’, yeah. And I did.

—Paul McCartney, Clash[7]

"Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five", the closing track of the Band on the Run album, concludes with a brief excerpt of the chorus.


The song was recorded in two parts, in different sessions. The first two were taped in Lagos, Nigeria, while the third bit was recorded in October 1973 at AIR Studios in London.[8]


"Band on the Run", backed with "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five", was released in America on 8 April 1974 as the follow-up single Paul McCartney and Wings' Top 10 hit, "Jet". The song was a smash hit for the band, becoming McCartney's third American chart-topping single. The single was later released in Britain (instead backed with "Zoo Gang", the theme song to the television show of the same name), reaching number 3 on the British charts. The song was also a Top 40 single in multiple European countries, such as the Netherlands (number 7), Belgium (number 21), and Germany (number 22).

The U.S. radio edit was 3:50 in length. The difference was largely caused by the removal of the middle or the second part of the song, as well as the verse that starts with "Well, the undertaker drew a heavy sigh..."[9]

The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[10] The song features prominently on all McCartney/Wings compilations as well as McCartney's live shows. It was the second of five number-one singles for the band on the Billboard Hot 100.[3] Billboard ranked it number 22 on its Top Pop Singles of 1974 year-end chart.[11]


An official video, directed by Michael Coulson, was released along with the song. It served mostly as a tribute to The Beatles, featuring montages of still pictures from their career. Present-day McCartney and Wings were not shown. The video ends with a collage of Beatles pictures much like the album cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.[12]


Chart positions[edit]

Other appearances[edit]


  1. ^ "RIAA Gold and Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  2. ^ "Certified Awards Search". BPI. Archived from the original on 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Paul McCartney Charts and Awards". allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  4. ^ "Official Charts: Paul McCartney". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  5. ^ "BBC - Radio 2 - Sold On Song - Song Library - Band On The Run". BBC. Retrieved 21 March 2009. 
  6. ^ Gambaccini, Paul. Paul McCartney: In His Own Words. 
  7. ^ Harper, Simon. "The Making Of Paul McCartney". Clash. 
  8. ^ Luca Perasi, Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013), L.I.L.Y. Publishing, 2013, ISBN 978-88-909122-1-4, p.103
  9. ^ Allen J. Wiener, The Beatles: The Ultimate Recording Guide third revised edition (Holbrook, Massachusetts: Bob Adams Press, 1994), 396.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Top Pop Singles" Billboard December 26, 1974: TA-8
  12. ^ "Wings - Band On The Run (Original Video)". Youtube. Retrieved April 6, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Belgian Chart". Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  14. ^ "Canadian Chart". Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  15. ^ "". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  16. ^ "Japanese Chart". Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  17. ^ " Paul McCartney discography". Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 2 August 2011. 
  18. ^ "New Zealand Chart". Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  19. ^ "Activision Unveils Full Guitar Hero(R) World Tour Set List". 2008-10-26. Retrieved 2011-07-09. [dead link]
Preceded by
"The Streak" by Ray Stevens
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
8 June 1974
Succeeded by
"Billy Don't Be a Hero" by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods
Preceded by
"The Streak" by Ray Stevens
Canadian RPM Singles Chart number-one single
8 June 1974
Succeeded by
"Sundown" by Gordon Lightfoot