This is a good article. Click here for more information.

Band on the Run (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"Band on the Run"
A-side label of UK single
Single by Paul McCartney and Wings
from the album Band on the Run
Released8 April 1974
RecordedSeptember 1973
StudioEMI, Lagos, Nigeria; AIR, London
Length5:09 (album version)
3:50 (radio edit)
Songwriter(s)Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney
Producer(s)Paul McCartney
Wings singles chronology
"Band on the Run"
"Junior's Farm"
Alternative cover
Spanish cover with "Zoo Gang" on the B-side
Spanish cover with "Zoo Gang" on the B-side
Official audio
"Band On The Run" on YouTube

"Band on the Run" is a song by the British–American rock band Paul McCartney and Wings, released as the title track to their 1973 album Band on the Run. The song was released as a single in April 1974 in the US and in June 1974 in the UK, following the success of "Jet", and became an international chart success. The song topped the charts in the United States, also reaching number 3 in the United Kingdom.[1][2] The single sold over one million copies in 1974 in America.[1] It has since become one of the band's most famous songs.

A medley of three distinct musical passages that vary in style from folk rock to funk, "Band on the Run" is one of McCartney's longest singles at 5:09. The song was partly inspired by a comment that George Harrison had made during a meeting of the Beatles' Apple record label. The song-wide theme is one of freedom and escape, and its creation coincided with Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr having parted with manager Allen Klein in March 1973, leading to improved relations between McCartney and his fellow ex-Beatles. The original demos for this and other tracks on Band on the Run were stolen shortly after Wings arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, to begin recording the album. With the band reduced to a trio consisting of McCartney, his wife Linda, and Denny Laine, "Band on the Run" was recorded at EMI's Lagos studio and completed at AIR Studios in London.


It was symbolic: "If we ever get out of here … All I need is a pint a day" … [In the Beatles] 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 … So there was a feeling of "if we ever get out of here", yeah. And I did.

– Paul McCartney, to Clash Music in 2010[3]

In a 1973 interview with Paul Gambaccini, McCartney stated that the lyric "if we ever get out of here" was inspired by a remark made by George Harrison during one of the Beatles' many business meetings. McCartney recalled: "He was saying that we were all prisoners in some way [due to the ongoing problems with their company Apple] … I thought it would be a nice way to start an album."[nb 1] McCartney added, referring to his inspiration for "Band on the Run": "It's a million things … all put together. Band on the run – escaping, freedom, criminals. You name it, it's there."[4]

In a 1988 interview with Musician magazine, McCartney noted the drug busts experienced by musicians of the late 1960s and early 1970s as an inspiration for the "Band on the Run", also referencing the "desperado" image he attributed to bands like the Byrds and the Eagles as an influence. McCartney, who had been having legal trouble involving pot possession, said, "We were being outlawed for pot … And our argument on ['Band on the Run'] was 'Don't put us on the wrong side … We're not criminals, we don't want to be. So I just made up a story about people breaking out of prison.'"[5]

According to Mojo contributor Tom Doyle, the song's lyrics, recalled through memory following the robbery of the band's demo tapes for the Band on the Run album, were altered to reflect on the band's then-current status, "stuck inside the four walls of the small, cell-like studio, faced with grim uncertainty."[6]

"Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five", the closing track of the Band on the Run album, concludes with a brief excerpt of the chorus.[7]


"Band on the Run" is a three-part medley: the first section is a slow ballad, the second a funk-rock-style piece,[8] and the finale a country-esque section.[8] AllMusic writer Stewart Mason described the last and longest section as "an effortless mélange of acoustic rhythm guitars, country-ish slide fills, and three-part harmonies on the chorus" and compared its sound to that of California rock group Eagles.[8] The lyrics of the entire song, however, are related: all based on the general theme of freedom and escape.[9][10] Music critic Robert Christgau characterized the lyrical content of the song as "about the oppression of rock musicians by cannabis-crazed bureaucrats".[11]


The original demo recording for "Band on the Run", as well as multiple other tracks from the album, was stolen from the McCartneys while Paul McCartney and Wings were recording in Lagos, Nigeria.[3] Robbed at knifepoint, they relinquished the demos, only recovering the songs through memory.[6] Paul McCartney later remarked, "It was stuff that would be worth a bit on eBay these days, you know? But no, we figured the guys who mugged us wouldn’t even be remotely interested. If they’d have known, they could have just held on to them and made themselves a little fortune. But they didn’t know, and we reckoned they’d probably record over them."[3]

The song was recorded in two parts, in different sessions. The first two were taped in Lagos, while the third section was recorded in October 1973 at AIR Studios in London.[12] Orchestrator Tony Visconti was hired by McCartney, who liked his arrangements for T. Rex. Visconti was given three days to write arrangements for the whole album, including the 60-person orchestra for the title track. Visconti said that the arrangements were collaborations with McCartney, and was surprised he was not credited with his work until the 25th anniversary reissue.[13]


Originally, Paul McCartney planned not to release any singles from Band on the Run, a strategy he compared to that used by the Beatles.[14] However, he was convinced by Capitol Records vice president Al Coury to release singles from the album, resulting in the single release of "Jet" and "Band on the Run".[15]

Al Coury, promotion man for Capitol Records, released 'Jet,' which I wasn't even thinking of releasing as a single, and 'Band on the Run' too. He single-handedly turned [Band on the Run] around.[15]

Paul McCartney

"Band on the Run", backed with "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five", was released in America on 8 April 1974 as the follow-up single to Paul McCartney and Wings' top-ten hit "Jet". The song was a smash hit for the band, becoming McCartney's third non-Beatles American chart-topping single, and the second with Wings.[1] 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.[2] The song reached number 1 in both Canada and New Zealand. The song was also a top 40 single in multiple European countries, such as the Netherlands (number 7),[16] Belgium (number 21),[17] and Germany (number 22).[18]

The US 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 …"[19]

The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[20] It was the second of five number-one singles for the band on the Billboard Hot 100.[1] In 1974, Billboard ranked it number 22 on its Top Pop Singles year-end chart.[21] Billboard also listed the song as Paul McCartney's sixth most successful chart hit of all time, excluding Beatles releases.[22]

"Band on the Run" has also been featured on numerous McCartney/Wings compilation albums, including Wings Greatest,[23] All the Best!,[24] and Wingspan: Hits and History.[25] The song is also performed in many of McCartney's live shows, with a live version being included on the 1976 live album Wings over America.[26] In June 2022, one week after his 80th birthday, McCartney performed the song with Dave Grohl at the Glastonbury Festival.[27][28]


An independent film produced by Michael Coulson, while he was a college student in the mid 1970s, was later included in The McCartney Years video compilation as well as the 2010 re-issue of the album Band on the Run. It served mostly as a tribute to the Beatles, featuring montages of still pictures from their career. 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.[29]

In 2014, a new video for "Band on the Run" was created. The video was designed by Ben Ib, an artist who created tour visuals for Paul McCartney (as well as Roger Waters and The Smashing Pumpkins) and the cover for Paul McCartney's 2013 solo album New.[30] In the video, all of the objects, including the "band on the run" itself, are made up of words.[31]


The song was praised by former bandmate and songwriting partner, John Lennon, who considered it "a great song and a great album".[32] In 2014, Billboard praised "Band on the Run" for having "three distinct parts that don't depend on a chorus yet still manage to feel anthemic."[22] Cash Box said that the "excellent build to eventual power pitch, coupled with some fine music and vocals makes this another McCartney masterpiece."[33] AllMusic critic Stewart Mason called the track "classic McCartney", lauding the song for "manag[ing] to be experimental in form yet so deliciously melodic that its structural oddities largely go unnoticed."[8]

Paul McCartney and Wings won the Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus for "Band on the Run" at the 17th Annual Grammy Awards.[34] NME ranked the song as the tenth best song of the 1970s, as well as the fifteenth best solo song by an ex-Beatle.[35][36] In 2010, AOL Radio listeners voted "Band on the Run" the best song of Paul McCartney's solo career, achieving a better ranking than "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Silly Love Songs".[37] In 2012, Rolling Stone readers ranked the song as McCartney's fourth best song of all time, behind "Maybe I'm Amazed", "Hey Jude", and "Yesterday".[38] Rolling Stone readers also ranked the song the fifth best solo song by ex-members of The Beatles.[39]


Additional personnel

Chart performance[edit]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[51] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Cover versions[edit]

Since its release, "Band on the Run" has been covered by multiple artists. Former Wings member Denny Laine released a version of "Band on the Run" on his 1996 album Wings at the Sound of Denny Laine.[52] A cover version was recorded in 2007 by the rock band Foo Fighters as their contribution to the Radio 1: Established 1967 album;[53] on 1 June 2008 McCartney was joined onstage by Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl for a special performance of the song in Liverpool.[54] Grohl played guitar and sang backing vocals on "Band on the Run" and then played drums on Beatles songs "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "I Saw Her Standing There".[54] A cover version by Heart was included on the 2014 tribute album The Art of McCartney.[55]


  1. ^ Speaking to Clash Music in 2010, however, he said: "I don’t remember that being a George line. I don’t know about that."[3]



  1. ^ a b c d e "Paul McCartney Charts and Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Official Charts: Paul McCartney". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Harper 2010.
  4. ^ Gambaccini 1976.
  5. ^ McGee 2003, pp. 223–224.
  6. ^ a b Doyle 2014, pp. 92.
  7. ^ Jackson 2012, pp. 122.
  8. ^ a b c d Mason, Stewart. "Band on the Run (song) review". AllMusic.
  9. ^ Rodriguez 2010, pp. 160.
  10. ^ Jackson 2012, pp. 108–109.
  11. ^ Robert Christgau. "Paul McCartney: Band on the Run > Consumer Guide Album". Retrieved 2 February 2009.
  12. ^ Perasi 2013, pp. 103.
  13. ^ Visconti, Tony. The Autobiography. Harper Collins. 2007. p204-206
  14. ^ Badman 2009.
  15. ^ a b McGee 2003, pp. 59–60.
  16. ^ a b " Paul McCartney discography". Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  17. ^ a b "Belgian Chart". Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  18. ^ a b "". GfK Entertainment. Archived from the original on 18 July 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  19. ^ Wiener 1994, pp. 396.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "Top Pop Singles" Billboard 26 December 1974: TA-8
  22. ^ a b "Paul McCartney's Top 10 Billboard Hits". Billboard.
  23. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Wings Greatest". allmusic.
  24. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "All the Best". allmusic. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  25. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Wingspan: Hits and History". allmusic. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  26. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Wings Over America". allmusic. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  27. ^ "Paul McCartney - Band on the Run (feat. Dave Grohl) (Glastonbury 2022)" – via
  28. ^ "Watch Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen join Paul McCartney on stage at Glastonbury 2022". 26 June 2022.
  29. ^ "Wings – Band On The Run (Original Video)". Youtube. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  30. ^ "New Lyric Video: 'Band on the Run'". Paul McCartney. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  31. ^ Wilkening, Matthew. "Paul McCartney, 'Band on the Run' Lyric Video – Exclusive Premiere". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  32. ^ Doyle 2014, pp. 100.
  33. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. 6 April 1974. p. 16. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  34. ^ "Paul McCartney – Awards". Grammy Awards. 15 December 2020.
  35. ^ "100 Best Tracks of the Seventies". New Musical Express. 4 June 2018.
  36. ^ Beaumont, Mark. "The Best Of The Post-Beatles". New Musical Express. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  37. ^ Votta, Rae (April 2010). "10 Best Paul McCartney Songs". AOL Radio. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  38. ^ "Readers' Poll: What Is the Best Paul McCartney Song of All Time?". Rolling Stone. 15 February 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  39. ^ "Readers' Poll: The 10 Greatest Solo Beatle Songs". Rolling Stone. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  40. ^ "Canadian Chart". Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  41. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Band on the Run". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  42. ^ "Japanese Chart". Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  43. ^ "flavour of new zealand – search listener". Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  44. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Songs (A-B)".
  45. ^ "Wings Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  46. ^ "The Top 200 Singles of '74". RPM. 28 December 1974. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  47. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1974" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  48. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1974". Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  49. ^ "Top Selling Singles for 1974". Music Week. London, England: Spotlight Publications: 20. 4 January 1975.
  50. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1974". Archived from the original on 25 November 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  51. ^ "American single certifications – Paul Mc Cartney & Wings – Band on the Run". Recording Industry Association of America.
  52. ^ "Performs the Hits of Wings". Allmusic. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  53. ^ "Radio 1 Cover Versions". BBC. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  54. ^ a b "Paul McCartney watched by Yoko Ono in Liverpool as Dave Grohl helps out". New Musical Express. 2 June 2008. Archived from the original on 12 February 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2009.
  55. ^ Grow, Kory (9 September 2014). "Paul McCartney Tribute Comp: Bob Dylan, Kiss and More Cover the Beatle". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved 25 February 2019.


  • Badman, Keith (2009). The Beatles: Off The Record 2 – The Dream is Over: Off the Record. Omnibus Press.
  • Doyle, Tom (2014). Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s. Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-8041-7914-0.
  • Gambaccini, Paul (1976). Paul McCartney: In His Own Words. Music Sales Corp. ISBN 978-0-9662649-5-1.
  • Harper, Simon (2010). "The Making Of Paul McCartney". Clash Music. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  • Jackson, A.G. (2012). Still the Greatest: The Essential Solo Beatles Songs. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-8222-5.
  • McGee, Garry (2003). Band on the Run: A History of Paul McCartney and Wings. Taylor Trade Publishing.
  • Perasi (2013). Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969–2013). L.I.L.Y. Publishing. ISBN 978-88-909122-1-4.
  • Rodriguez, Robert (2010). Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles' Solo Years, 1970–1980. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0-87930-968-8.
  • Spizer, Bruce (2005). The Beatles Solo on Apple Records. 498 Productions. ISBN 0-9662649-5-9.
  • Wiener, Allen J. (1994). The Beatles: The Ultimate Recording Guide. Bob Adams Press.