Rolling Stone described the song as McCartney's equivalent to John Lennon's "Imagine". To others, however, "Pipes of Peace" is. The song has a clear division between the verses featuring sad lyrics about the struggle to survive, the necessity of conflict (pushing and pulling) and the hopeful refrain, in which McCartney looks for a future where these struggles are no longer necessary. The lyrics are seen[who?] as describing his complex relationship with Lennon, who was killed two years prior.
The single reached number 53 in the UK and number 53 in the US.
The album version starts with the sounds of people grunting as part of a real tug of war- a popular sporting event since ancient times, before Paul goes into the song, and then at the end of the song, it fades into "Take It Away". The single version omits these factors.