Pipes of Peace (song)

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"Pipes of Peace"
Pipes of Peace.jpg
Single by Paul McCartney
from the album Pipes of Peace
B-side"So Bad"
Released5 December 1983
RecordedSeptember/October 1982
Songwriter(s)Paul McCartney
Producer(s)George Martin
Paul McCartney singles chronology
"Say Say Say"
"Pipes of Peace"
"No More Lonely Nights"

"Pipes of Peace" is a song written by Paul McCartney, which was first released on his album of the same name on 31 October 1983. It was also released as a single on 5 December 1983 and reached #1 on the UK singles charts for two weeks. The Song also reached #1 on the Irish Single Charts.[1]


The basic track was recorded on 10 September 1982 at A.I.R. Studios[2], with orchestral overdubs added later, probably at the same studio. Paul McCartney plays piano, bass and knee-percussion, while tabla was added by James Kippen, who tried "something like 20-30 takes” before McCartney was satisfied.[3] A special session was organized to have the Pestalozzi Children Choir adding their voices.


In the United States, "Pipes of Peace" was issued as the B-side, and its British B-side, "So Bad", was issued as the A-side.[4] "So Bad" reached #23 at the US Billboard Hot 100.[5] "So Bad" also reached #11 on the Canadian RPM Charts.

McCartney had previously had seventeen UK number one singles as a member of The Beatles, one as a member of Wings ("Mull of Kintyre"), and one with Stevie Wonder ("Ebony and Ivory"), but this was his first and only UK number one as a solo artist. He later appeared on five charity singles that reached number one: Band Aid (1984), Ferry Aid (1987), Ferry Cross the Mersey (1989), Band Aid 20 (2004) and The Justice Collective (2012). As the 1969 single Get Back was formally credited to 'The Beatles with Billy Preston' this makes McCartney the only person to have had a number one single as a solo artist and as a member of a duo, a trio, a quartet and a quintet.


At Chobham Common, Surrey, a video was shot for "Pipes of Peace", depicting the famous 1914 Christmas truce between British and German troops.[6] It portrays a British and a German soldier, both played by McCartney, who meet up in No Man's Land and exchange photos of their loved ones while other soldiers fraternise and play football. When a shell blast forces the two armies to retreat to their own trenches both men realise that they still have each other's pictures.[7] The video was produced by Hugh Symonds, featured more than 100 extras, and for added realism McCartney had his hair cut short especially for the shoot.

In November 2014 the British supermarket chain Sainsbury's, in partnership with the Royal British Legion, produced a Christmas advert[8] whose look and narrative were widely recognized[9] as being based on McCartney's "Pipes of Peace" video. As in "Pipes of Peace" the British and German soldier return to their trenches to discover that they have inadvertently swapped their gifts from home.


Argentine singer-songwriter Sergio Denis recorded a Spanish version of the song re-titled Pipas de la paz on his album La Humanidad (1984).

The McCartney recording was included on the UK and Canada version of the 1987 compilation All the Best!, and the 2001 compilation Wingspan: Hits and History.

Tabla was played by James Kippen.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Official Charts: Paul McCartney". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  2. ^ Pipes of Peace Archive Edition, 2015
  3. ^ Luca Perasi, Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013), 2013, L.I.L.Y. Publishing, p.232.
  4. ^ "Paul McCartney– So Bad / Pipes Of Peace (Vinyl) at Discogs". discogs.com. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  5. ^ "Pipes of Peace > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". allmusic. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  6. ^ "When peace broke out". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2014
  7. ^ Daphne Lee (12 July 2009). "Monsters in our minds". Malaysia Star. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 39 March 2010. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  8. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWF2JBb1bvM
  9. ^ http://metro.co.uk/2014/11/13/sainsburys-christmas-advert-2014-is-basically-just-a-rehash-of-paul-mccartneys-pipes-of-peace-4946776/
  10. ^ Claudio Dirani (5 December 2005). "The Stunning Percussion On Pipes Of Peace". Retrieved 10 January 2013.