|Single by Paul McCartney|
|from the album McCartney II|
|Released||15 September 1980|
|Recorded||July - August 1979|
|Genre||Experimental, synth pop, new wave|
|Paul McCartney singles chronology|
"Temporary Secretary" was written by McCartney about having a "disposable secretary", an idea that he found humorous. The song also features a sequencer, which McCartney used to keep a tempo. He also said that he made up the song as he went along.
It's like a disposable secretary, and it struck me as being funny. The song is written from the point of view of a fellow who just wants a disposable secretary, and he's writing to a bureau to try and get one. I just like the idea. I just thought it was funny, you know, asking for a temporary secretary rather than a secretary.
That sound on the track, which is like a space typewriter, is a sequence machine. I used that to give me a tempo and, again, I just made the song up as I went along. It was a little influenced by Ian Dury.—Paul McCartney
McCartney later claimed that he did, at some points, have temporary secretaries. He also noted that there was, in fact, a Mr. Marks.
I did have temporary secretaries. After I left Apple I still had business stuff coming up, so in trying to figure out how I could cope with that there were a couple of times I just grabbed someone to just put my letters in order and help. But that track isn't about a specific person. What it's about is, there was a guy called Alfred Marks, he had the Alfred Marks Bureau - he had the same name as a comedian on the radio when I was growing up. So it was just the funny paradox of seeing adverts for the Alfred Marks Bureau, the idea of some comedian having a bureau was just funny. It said 'Temporary Secretary', and I thought, that's a kind of funky thought. Then there was the secretary thing: take a letter Miss Smith, sit on my lap... all that kind of stuff.—Paul McCartney, The Quietus, 2011
"Temporary Secretary" was released as a third single from the album only in a form of 12" single, along with the ten-minute "Secret Friend" as its b-side, limited to 25000 copies and therefore failed to chart. A 7" single exists only as a demo for radio stations. It exemplifies both the whimsical nature of the album and McCartney's use of synthesizers and other electronics in the creation of the album. McCartney claims that he viewed the song as an "experiment."
Music website Allmusic.com said of the album, McCartney II:
|“||In retrospect, the record is muddled and confused, nowhere more so than on the frazzled sequencing of "Temporary Secretary," where McCartney spits out ridiculous lyrics with a self-consciously atonal melody over gurgling synths. Things rarely get worse than that....||”|
In contrast, music website popmatters.com said, in reviewing the 2011 reissue of McCartney II:
|“||“Temporary Secretary” is a manic, futuristic laser blast with an actual melody simmering underneath. It would be pointless to compare it to anything McCartney had ever done before, and would be equally so to compare it to anyone else as it couldn’t possibly be anyone else. More than any other song on either eponymous album, “Temporary Secretary” illustrates the complex nature of Paul McCartney’s musical output...||”|
Beatles biographers Roy Carr and Tony Tyler describe the song as being built from an initial, repetitive synthesizer theme, with more substantial instrumental portions added over time, and finally an insubstantial vocal. They complain that the song was done without commitment and that it "grows irritating towards the end."
In 2013, Rolling Stone Magazine rated "Temporary Secretary" the #36 all-time Paul McCartney post-Beatles song, calling it a "cult favorite" and an "oddly catchy electro-pop nugget, about a slightly creepy-sounding guy looking to hire a temp."
In 2014 "Temporary Secretary" was ranked the 167th greatest song of all time by critics of NME magazine. They described it as "wonky electro-pop that didn't sound so much ahead of its time as out of it altogether."
- 12" single (12 R 6039)
- "Temporary Secretary" - 3:13
- "Secret Friend" - 10:30
In 2011, the German girl band Damenkapelle covered the song on their album Damenkapelle (aus München).
- "Temporary Secretary". JPGR. 2000. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
- "Paul's 40 Greatest Solo Songs". Special Collector's Edition: Paul McCartney. Rolling Stone Magazine. 2013. p. 91.
- Carr, R. & Tyler, T. (1981). The Beatles: An Illustrated Record. Harmony Books. p. 128. ISBN 0517544938.
- "McCartney II". allmusic. Retrieved 29 August 2009.
- Kott, Crispin (2001-06-17). "Paul McCartney: McCartney / McCartney II". PopMatters. PopMatters Media, Inc., PopMatters Magazine. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
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