Mary Had a Little Lamb (Wings song)

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"Mary Had a Little Lamb"
Standard artwork (UK vinyl single pictured)
Single by Wings
B-side "Little Woman Love"
Released 12 May 1972 (UK)
29 May 1972 (US)
Format 7" single
Recorded March 1972
Genre Rock, traditional
Label Apple
Writer(s) Paul & Linda McCartney
Producer(s) Paul McCartney
Linda McCartney
Wings singles chronology
"Give Ireland Back to the Irish"
"Mary Had a Little Lamb"
"Hi, Hi, Hi"

"Mary Had a Little Lamb" is Wings' version of the traditional nursery rhyme.


At the time, Paul McCartney claimed it was written in response to the BBC ban on their previous single, the political "Give Ireland Back to the Irish",[citation needed] but he has since denied this, asserting that it was a serious effort to write a rock song for children, who he felt were being tragically overlooked by the music industry.[1] Wings lead guitarist Henry McCullough plays mandolin, and the McCartney children sing on the chorus. McCartney has claimed that record logs reveal that the song was recorded before "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" had been banned by the BBC. Engineer Tony Clark claims that the song was probably recorded in February or March;[2] The song was surely written before "Give Ireland Back to the Irish", as it can be heard during an interview aired on radio station WRKO in December 1971.[3] "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" was banned at the end of February.

Charts and reception[edit]

The song was virulently attacked by rock critics at the time, although a few critics thought it to be deliberately ironic.[4] It reached the top 10 in the UK, peaking at number 9.[5] However, many US radio stations chose instead to play the pop/rock B-side, "Little Woman Love". Apple Records in the US even revised the picture sleeve for the single to credit both sides by name (see reverse cover), but the single still failed to rise above number 28 in the US.[6]

The song was released as a single on 12 May 1972 in the UK,[7] moved up from its original planned date of the 5th.[8] The US release occurred on 29 May.[8] On 25 May, the band mimed a performance of the song for BBC TV's Top of the Pops TV show.[8] Over a week later, on 6 June, the band mimed yet again to the song. The song was included as a bonus track on the remastered version of Wild Life released in 1993.


  1. ^ Garbarini, Vic (1980). The McCartney Interview [interview LP], Columbia Records.
  2. ^ Hurwitz, Matt. "Thrillington", Good Day Sunshine Magazine #78, 1995.
  3. ^ Luca Perasi, Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013), L.I.L.Y. Publishing, 2013, ISBN 978-88-909122-1-4, p.79.
  4. ^ Dempsey, J.M. "McCartney at 60: a body of work celebrating home and hearth", Popular Music & Society, February 2004.
  5. ^ "Official Charts: Paul McCartney". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  6. ^ "Paul McCartney Charts and Awards". allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  7. ^ Castleman, Harry; Podrazik, Walter J. (1977). All Together Now – The First Complete Beatles Discography 1961–1975 (Second ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 113. ISBN 0-345-25680-8. 
  8. ^ a b c Miles, Barry; Badman, Keith, eds. (2001). The Beatles Diary After the Break-Up: 1970-2001 (reprint ed.). London: Music Sales Group. ISBN 9780711983076.