Coming Up (song)

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"Coming Up"
Single by Paul McCartney
from the album McCartney II
Released11 April 1980[1]
RecordedJuly–August 1979
GenreFunk rock
Length3:49 (album/single edit)
5:35 (full length version)
4:10 ("Live at Glasgow" version)
LabelParlophone (UK)
Columbia (US)
Songwriter(s)Paul McCartney
Producer(s)Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney singles chronology
"Wonderful Christmastime"
"Coming Up"
Wings singles chronology
"Rockestra Theme"
"Coming Up"
"My Carnival"
Back cover
Reverse side of the picture sleeve
Reverse side of the picture sleeve
McCartney II track listing
11 tracks
Side one
  1. "Coming Up"
  2. "Temporary Secretary"
  3. "On the Way"
  4. "Waterfalls"
  5. "Nobody Knows"
Side two
  1. "Front Parlour"
  2. "Summer's Day Song"
  3. "Frozen Jap"
  4. "Bogey Music"
  5. "Darkroom"
  6. "One of These Days"
Music video
"Coming Up" on YouTube

"Coming Up" is a song written and performed by English musician Paul McCartney, released as the opening track on his 1980 solo album McCartney II. Like other songs on the album, the song has a synthesised sound, featuring sped-up vocals created by using a vari-speed tape machine. McCartney played all instruments and shared vocal harmonies with wife Linda McCartney.

The single was a hit in Britain, peaking at No. 2 on the singles chart. In the United States and Canada, the live version of the song performed by Paul McCartney and Wings in Glasgow the year prior (released as the B-side to the single) saw greater success.


In a Rolling Stone interview, McCartney explained how the song came about:[2]

I originally cut it on my farm in Scotland. I went into the studio each day and just started with a drum track. Then I built it up bit by bit without any idea of how the song was going to turn out. After laying down the drum track, I added guitars and bass, building up the backing track.

Then I thought, 'Well, OK, what am I going to do for the voice?' I was working with a vari-speed machine with which you can speed up your voice, or take it down a little bit. That's how the voice sound came about.

— Paul McCartney

John Lennon described "Coming Up" as "a good piece of work" and, according to McCartney, it prompted Lennon to return to recording in 1980.[3][4] Lennon later stated his preference for the studio version over the live version that was released as a single: "I thought that Coming Up was great and I like the freak version that he made in his barn better than that live Glasgow one. If I'd have been with him I would've said 'that's the one' too. And I thought that the record company had a nerve changing it round on him, and I know what they mean, they want to hear the real guy singing, but I like the freaky one."[5]

Live version[edit]

A live version of the song was recorded in Glasgow, Scotland, on 17 December 1979 by Wings during their tour of the UK. An edited version from the performance was included as one of two songs on the B-side; the other song on the B-side was "Lunchbox/Odd Sox", a Wings song that dated back to Venus and Mars. Both songs were credited to Paul McCartney and Wings.

Columbia Records wanted to put the live version on McCartney II but McCartney resisted the change, wanting to keep it a solo album. Instead, a one-sided 7" white-label promotional copy of the Wings version was included with the album in North America.

"Coming Up (Live at Glasgow)" has since appeared on the US versions of the McCartney compilations All the Best! (1987) and Wingspan: Hits and History (2001), while the solo studio version is included on UK and international releases.

The full length version of the song with an additional verse from the 1979 Glasgow show was finally released as bonus track on the Paul McCartney Archive Collection reissue of McCartney II in 2011.

A different live Wings recording of "Coming Up" appears on the album Concerts for the People of Kampuchea, also recorded in 1979.

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Coming Up" features Paul McCartney playing ten roles (himself, two guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, a keyboard player, and four saxophone players) and Linda McCartney playing two (one female backup singer and one male backup singer.) The "band" identified as "The Plastic Macs" on the drum kit (a homage to Lennon's conceptual Plastic Ono Band), features Paul and Linda's imitations of various rock musician stereotypes, as well as a few identifiable musicians. In his audio commentary on the 2007 video collection The McCartney Years, McCartney identified characters that were impersonations of specific artists: Hank Marvin (guitarist from the Shadows), Ron Mael of Sparks (keyboards), a 'Beatlemania-era' version of himself, and a drummer vaguely inspired by John Bonham from Led Zeppelin[6] While others such as authors Fred Bronson and Kenneth Womack have suggested that there are other identifiable impersonations in the video, such as Andy Mackay, Frank Zappa and Buddy Holly,[7][8] McCartney said the other roles were simply comic relief.[9]

The video premiered in the UK on The Kenny Everett Video Show on 14 April 1980 and in the US on Saturday Night Live on 17 May 1980.[10]

Chart performance[edit]

In the UK, the single was an immediate hit, reaching No. 2 in its third week on the chart.[11]

In the US, Columbia Records promoted the live version, which subsequently received more airplay than the studio version. McCartney was unaware of Columbia's move, otherwise he might have pushed for the A-side, which he thought was the stronger version. An executive from Columbia Records explained the switch by stating "Americans like the sound of Paul McCartney's real voice."[2] The live version reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[12] Although the live version received more airplay and was considered to be the "hit", Billboard listed the A-side on the Hot 100 for the first 12 weeks on the chart, including three weeks at No. 1, before switching to the more popular B-side for the remaining nine weeks on the chart.[13]

Track listing[edit]

7" single (R 6035)
  1. "Coming Up" – 3:49
  2. "Coming Up" (Live at Glasgow) – 3:51
    • Performed by Paul McCartney & Wings
  3. "Lunch Box/Odd Sox" – 3:54
    • Performed by Paul McCartney & Wings


Studio version
Live version
"Lunch Box / Odd Sox"
  • Paul McCartney – piano
  • Linda McCartney – moog synthesizer
  • Denny Laine – guitar
  • Geoff Britton – drums
  • Tony Dorsey – bass

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paul McCartney - Coming Up -, Retrieved 12 December 2020
  2. ^ a b Gambaccini, Paul (26 June 1980). "Paul McCartney's one man band". Rolling Stone. pp. 11, 20.
  3. ^ Sheff, David. All We Are Saying.
  4. ^ "Paul McCartney On His Not-So-Silly Love Songs". Billboard. 16 March 2001. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  5. ^ "John Lennon 1980 Interview". YouTube. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  6. ^ The McCartney Years DVD, Warner Music, Rhino Entertainment, 2007, MPL
  7. ^ Bronson, Fred. The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, Billboard Books, 2003, p. 526.
  8. ^ Womack, Kenneth (30 June 2014). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four [2 volumes]: Everything Fab Four. ISBN 9780313391729.
  9. ^ Saturday Night Live transcript, 17 May 1980 interview by "Father Guido Sarducci" with Paul & Linda McCartney. Retrieved 9 April 2008.
  10. ^ "Saturday Night Live: Steve Martin/Paul and Linda McCartney Episode Summary". Retrieved 13 August 2011.
  11. ^ "Official Charts: Paul McCartney". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  12. ^ "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  13. ^ Billboard Hot 100 Billboard 12 July 1980: 60
  14. ^ a b Steffen Hung. "Forum - Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts - 1980s (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 2016-10-16.
  15. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  16. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". 6 July 1980. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  17. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 48.
  18. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on 7 February 2016. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  19. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1980 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". 31 December 1980. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  20. ^ "1980 Talent in Action – Year End Charts : Pop Singles". Billboard. Vol. 92 no. 51. 20 December 1980. p. TIA-10. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  21. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.

External links[edit]