Flowers in the Dirt

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Flowers in the Dirt
Studio album by Paul McCartney
Released 5 June 1989
Recorded September 1987 – February 1989
Genre Rock
Length 53:42
Label Parlophone
Producer Paul McCartney, Mitchell Froom, Neil Dorfsman, Elvis Costello, Trevor Horn, Steve Lipson, Chris Hughes, Ross Cullum, David Foster (and Phil Ramone on CD reissue tracks)
Paul McCartney chronology
Flowers in the Dirt
Tripping the Live Fantastic
Singles from Flowers in the Dirt
  1. "My Brave Face"
    Released: 8 May 1989
  2. "This One"
    Released: 17 July 1989 (UK only)
  3. "Où est le Soleil?"
    Released: 22 July 1989 (US only)
  4. "Figure of Eight"
    Released: 13 November 1989 (UK only)
  5. "Put It There"
    Released: 5 February 1990
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[1]
Chicago Tribune (favourable)[2]
Deseret News (highly favourable)[3]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[4]
The Essential Rock Discography 6/10[5]
Los Angeles Times 4/5 stars[6]
MusicHound 3/5 stars[7]
The New York Times (favourable)[8]
Q 4/5 stars[9]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[11]
Time (favourable)[12]

Flowers in the Dirt is the eighth studio solo album by Paul McCartney under his own name. It was released in 1989 on Parlophone, as he was embarking on his first world tour since the Wings Over the World tour in 1975–76. It was considered a major return to form, and earned him some of his best reviews in years. The album made number 1 in the United Kingdom and Norway and produced several hit singles (the first being "My Brave Face").

Background and recording[edit]

After the meagre sales that greeted Press to Play, McCartney realised that he needed to work much harder on his follow-up. Thus, he not only teamed up with several different producers, but also spent the better part of 18 months perfecting Flowers in the Dirt. A highlight of the sessions was McCartney's productive alliance with Elvis Costello, with whom he composed many new songs. In his 2015 autobiography, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, Costello described the track "That Day Is Done" as, "the unhappy sequel to "Veronica"", which they had also co-written.[13] McCartney greatly enjoyed the new partnership, even finding that Costello mirrored John Lennon in certain aspects of his personality. Costello would also appear on the album, even co-singing "You Want Her Too" with McCartney. Another celebrity guest included was his friend David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, who plays the guitar on "We Got Married". On "Put It There", McCartney used an old Buddy Holly trick, the knee-percussion, that McCartney recorded on the same day as the backing track.[14]


Knowing full well he intended to launch the biggest tour of his career thus far, McCartney also put together a regular band to take out on the road, and who would appear in various forms on Flowers in the Dirt. Hamish Stuart was best known for his tenure in Average White Band, while Robbie McIntosh had been a member of the Pretenders. Filling out the sound would be Chris Whitten on drums and Paul "Wix" Wickens joining McCartney's wife Linda McCartney on keyboards.

Finally, early in 1989, the project was ready for release. In May, the Beatlesque "My Brave Face" was released as a single and promptly gave McCartney a US hit, reaching number 25, while reaching number 18 in the UK. In June, Flowers in the Dirt was released to high anticipation and immediately entered the UK charts at number 1, garnering very positive reviews from all around. In the US, the reaction was better than Press to Play, with the album reaching number 21, staying on the charts for a year and going gold, though it still sold beneath expectations. The second single, "This One", also reached number 18 in the UK. The follow-ups "Figure of Eight"/"Où est le Soleil?" and "Put It There" would all be minor UK hits.

The Paul McCartney World Tour opened on 26 September 1989 and featured concerts in North America, Europe, Japan and Brazil until the following July.

The album cover artwork was photographed by Linda McCartney. The background canvas was painted by the British artist Brian Clarke, who was also responsible for designing stage backdrops for the world tour.

A limited-edition "World Tour Pack" of Flowers in the Dirt, sold in a facsimile trunk, was issued in Britain in October 1989, and America (with British catalogue numbers) in January 1990. The set included a bonus single of "Party Party" (mixed by Bruce Forest and released on a one-sided 7" single in vinyl editions of the "World Tour Pack" and a 3" CD-single in compact disc editions of the "World Tour Pack"). In March 1990, another limited edition of the album that featured a bonus disc was released exclusively in Japan and re-entered the country's chart. A remastered CD was released in 1993.

Another reissue has been announced for release, as part of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection.

Critical reception[edit]

Reviewing for AllMusic, critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote of the album: "Paul McCartney must not only have been conscious of his slipping commercial fortunes, he must have realized that his records hadn't been treated seriously for years, so he decided to make a full-fledged comeback effort with Flowers in the Dirt."[15]

Writing for Chicago Tribune, David Silverman wrote that the album was "a welcome, if not wholly fantastic, return from the fabbest of the Fab Four".[16]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "My Brave Face"   Paul McCartney, Declan MacManus McCartney, Mitchell Froom, Neil Dorfsman 3:18
2. "Rough Ride"   McCartney Trevor Horn, McCartney, Steve Lipson 4:43
3. "You Want Her Too" (with Elvis Costello) McCartney, MacManus McCartney, Dorfsman, Froom, Costello 3:11
4. "Distractions"   McCartney McCartney 4:38
5. "We Got Married"   McCartney McCartney, David Foster 4:57
6. "Put It There"   McCartney McCartney 2:07
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
7. "Figure of Eight"   McCartney Horn, McCartney, Lipson 3:25
8. "This One"   McCartney McCartney 4:10
9. "Don't Be Careless Love"   McCartney, MacManus McCartney, Costello, Froom 3:18
10. "That Day Is Done"   McCartney, MacManus McCartney, Costello, Dorfsman, Froom 4:19
11. "How Many People"   McCartney Horn, McCartney, Lipson 4:14
12. "Motor of Love"   McCartney Chris Hughes, McCartney, Ross Cullum 6:18

Additional tracks[edit]

Special Package (1990 Japanese tour edition)[edit]

Following tracks are included on bonus disc.

  1. "Message" – 0:28
    • an environmental message from Paul to the Japanese fans.
  2. "The Long and Winding Road" (Lennon–McCartney) – 3:51
    • From the video "Put It There".
  3. "Loveliest Thing" – 3:59
  4. "Rough Ride" – 4:53
  5. "Ou est le Soleil (7" Mix)" – 4:50
  6. "Mama's Little Girl" – 3:41
    • an outtake from the 1972 "Red Rose Speedway" sessions.
  7. "Same Time Next Year" – 3:06
    • an outtake from the 1979 "Back To The Egg" sessions.
  8. "Party, Party" (McCartney/Linda McCartney/Robbie McIntosh/Hamish Stuart/Chris Whitten/Paul "Wix" Wickens) – 5:35
  9. "P.S. Love Me Do" (McCartney–Lennon) – 3:40

Other songs[edit]

Title Length Notes
"The First Stone (McCartney, Hamish Stewart)" Available on "My Brave Face" single
"I'm in Love Again (Fats Domino)"
"I Wanna Cry (McCartney)"
"Good Sign (McCartney)"
Exclusive download from



Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee/Work Award Result
1990 Flowers in the Dirt Best Engineered Non-classical Album[18] Nominated

Brit Awards[edit]

Year Nominee/Work Award Result
1990 "My Brave Face" Best Music Video[19] Nominated


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[41] Gold 50,000^
France (SNEP)[42] Gold 162,000[43]
Germany (BVMI)[44] Gold 250,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[45] Gold 86,000[B][46]
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[47] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Sweden (GLF)[48] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[49] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[50] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[51] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  • A^ Aside from standard version, Double-CD deluxe edition subtitled Special Package released in Japan. In 1990, it peaked at No. 27 on the chart and entered there for 4 weeks.[52]
  • B^ Combined sales of standard edition and its expanded reissue.


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Flowers in the Dirt at AllMusic. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
  2. ^ Silverman, David (11 June 1989). "Paul Is Back – Well, Almost". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  3. ^ Boren, Ray (18 June 1989). "BATTERED EX-BEATLE DELIVERS VALIANT EFFORT IN 'FLOWERS IN THE DIRT'". Deseret News. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin (2006). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th edn). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 1257. ISBN 0-19-531373-9. 
  5. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2006). The Essential Rock Discography. Edinburgh, UK: Canongate. p. 696. ISBN 978-1-84195-827-9. 
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  7. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 730. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.
  8. ^ Kozinn, Allan (18 June 1989). "'Flowers in the Dirt': Love on the Rocks". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "Paul McCartney – Flowers in the Dirt CD Album". CD Universe/Muze. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  10. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony (29 June 1989). "Paul McCartney Flowers in the Dirt". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 29 August 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2008 
  11. ^ Randall, Mac; Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds) (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th edn). New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. p. 526. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  12. ^ "Critics' Choice: Jul. 3, 1989". Time. 3 July 1989. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  13. ^ Elvis Costello (13 October 2015). Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. Viking. p. 494. ISBN 978-0241003466. 
  14. ^ Luca Perasi, Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969–2013), L.I.L.Y. Publishing, 2013, p.281, ISBN 978-88-909122-1-4.
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  16. ^
  17. ^ Ingham, Chris (2009). The Rough Guide to the Beatles. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1-84836-525-4. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "HERE'S LIST OF NOMINEES FROM ALL 77 CATEGORIES". Deseret News. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  19. ^ "The BRITs 1990". Brit Awards. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
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  21. ^ "Paul McCartney – Flowers in the Dirt –" (ASP) (in German). Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  22. ^ Library and Archives Canada.. Retrieved 5 March 2012
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  26. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1989" (in Italian). Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
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  42. ^ "French album certifications – Paul McCartney – Flowers in the Dirt" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select PAUL MCCARTNEY and click OK
  43. ^ "Les Albums Or". Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
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  45. ^ "Japanese album certifications – ポール・マッカートニー – フラワーズ・イン・ザ・ダート" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan.  Select 1990年3月 on the drop-down menu
  46. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  47. ^ "Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano: Certificados 1979–1990". Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano. 
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  51. ^ "American album certifications – Paul McCartney – Flowers in the Dirt". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  52. ^ ポール・マッカートニー-リリース-ORICON STYLE-ミュージック "Highest position and charting weeks of Flowers in the Dirt: Special Package by Paul McCartney" Check |url= value (help) (in Japanese). Retrieved 31 August 2011. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Ten Good Reasons by Jason Donovan
UK number one album
24 June 1989 – 30 June 1989
Succeeded by
Batman soundtrack by Prince
Preceded by
Look Sharp! by Roxette
Norwegian VG-lista number one album
25/1989 – 28/1989
Succeeded by
Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Smokie