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#askNat – concerning the Paul McCartney & Wings “Nashville” sessions

This week on #askNat I respond to Tom Kelly in Cameron, Texas who has sent me this message:

I am interested in the Paul McCartney & Wings recording sessions in Nashville during the early 70s.  Do bootlegs or complete recordings of these sessions exist?  What is the story behind the sessions?  And what about “Sally G?”

Thanks for writing in Tom! Wings held sessions in Nashville, Tennessee from early June into July 1974 at a time when their line up consisted of Paul (of course) with his wife, Linda, along with Denny Laine, guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Geoff Britton, who had just signed up with Wings on May 16th. The main idea for going to Nashville was just a different place to rehearse. After all, it was known as the center of the music industry and was even nicknamed “Music City.” Things went well and by July they ended up doing some recording there at Soundshop Recording Studios.

Wings in 1974 - (L-R): Denny Laine, Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney, Geoff Britton and Jimmy McCulloch

Wings in 1974 – (L-R): Denny Laine, Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney, Geoff Britton and Jimmy McCulloch

 

The most well-known recording from these sessions is the Wings single “Junior’s Farm” which Paul had written after being inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” written some years earlier as a track for his Bringing It All Back Home album (1965). While “Junior’s Farm” was undoubtedly a great rocker, the song that ended up on the b-side of the single had more of the Nashville influence. In fact “Sally G” was actually written while they were there. According to Skull Schullman, owner of the Printer’s Alley Club (mentioned in the song), Paul wrote the song in his bar. It was originally to be “Diane G” after country singer Diane Gaffney but Paul changed the name after learning that Diane had once sued a newspaper. Paul invited Nashville musicians Lloyd Green (pedal steel guitar) and Johnny Gimble (fiddle) to join in with Wings on the recording, which took place on July 9th.

During the July sessions, Wings were also joined by music legends Floyd Cramer and Chet Atkins. Together they recorded an instrumental track written by Paul’s father, James, many years earlier. The song, “Walking In The Park With Eloise,” was also released on a single the following December with the artist billing credited to The Country Hams. The same Country Hams line up had just recorded a second McCartney-composed instrumental titled “Bridge On The River Suite” which served as the b-side to the single.

The two singles recorded at the Nashville sessions are pictured below (click to enlarge).

Junior's Farm Apple single, 1974

Junior's Farm Apple single, 1974

Country Hams single picture sleeve

Country Hams single picture sleeve

 

Other songs recorded during the Nashville sessions included Denny Laine’s “Send Me The Heart” which was left unreleased at the time but later appeared in remixed form on his 1980 solo album Japanese Tears. Paul also added some overdubs to a few earlier recordings to include Linda’s “Wide Prairie” (now available on Linda’s posthumously-released 1998 CD of the same title) and “Hey Diddle” (which appears on the Wingspan compilation 2-CD set or in the bonus material from the deluxe edition of Paul & Linda’s Ram album from the Paul McCartney Archive Collection series).

Tom also asks if material from these sessions has been bootlegged and as you probably have guessed the answer is yes. An additional instrumental likely recorded around the time “Bridge On The River Suite” known as “Proud Mum” has surfaced on various bootlegs along with out-take versions of a few of the tracks already mentioned above.

That about covers it, Tom. Thanks again for a good topic and to everyone else for reading. Naturally if anyone has something to add, you can do so in the comments section below.


Thank you to everyone who has sent in their questions! Keep #askNat going by sending your questions to me in any of the following ways:

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Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase music related to this post:

1) All The Best! – Paul McCartney late eighties gits compilation containing complete version of “Junior’s Farm” recorded at the Nashville sessions in June 1974.

2) Wingspan (Hits & History) – 2001 2-CD compilation of the best tracks by Wings including the DJ edit of the hit single “Junior’s Farm” (recorded in the 1974 Nashville sessions) and “Hey Diddle” (actually recorded prior to the formation of Wings and embellished by Paul at the 1974 sessions in Nashville).

3) Wide Prairie – 1998 posthumously-released Linda McCartney collection containing the title song worked on by Paul McCartney at the Nashville sessions in 1974.

4) Wings At The Speed Of Sound – CD re-issue of origianl 1976 Wings LP with bonus tracks “Sally G” and (by The Country Hams) “Bridge On The River Suite” and “Walking In The Park With Eloise” from Wings’ Nashville sessions.

5) Japanese Tears – re-issue of Denny Laine’s 1980 solo LP on CD containing renixed version of “Send Me The Heart” from the Nashville sessions with Wings in 1974.

6) Beatles/Beatles-related Music: The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

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4 Comments

  • Brent from Nashville says:

    Great piece on Macca’s ’74 Nashville trip. Thanks.

    To confirm, Paul’s dad was not present in Nashville when “Walking Through the Park with Eloise” was recorded. I know because I was at the Soundshop Studio with my dad (I had just turned 16 – my dad was in the music business) as guests that night of Soundshop owner Buddy Killen.

    Paul decided to record “Eloise” while here, as he knew Chet Atkins and Floyd Cramer would be perfect for it. Paul telephoned his dad in L’pool to confirm exactly how the song went. “You know,” Paul said, “that instrumental song you wrote.” James Mc answered, “Oh no, son, I didn’t write it. I just made it up.” Amazing that even at that point in Paul’s career, his dad didn’t really grasp the meaning of “writing” a song.

    Also, “Bridge on the River Suite,” the recording of which they played for us that night, was cut in LA just prior to Macca’s trip to Nashville, during the same time as “Let’s Love” with Peggy Lee.

    • Happy Nat says:

      Thanks so much for sharing that Brent! Did you actually get to sit in on any of the sessions? Must have been a lot of fun. “Junior’s Farm” is one of my favorite Wings songs. I was a little disappointed on the “abbreviated version” that Paul has been doing recently (i.e. “Out There” tour, Bonnaroo).

      • Brent from Nashville says:

        Thanks for the reply, Nat. And thanks for asking for more info.

        Yes, it might not sound like much, but we were in the control room to watch Paul overdub the thimbles-on-washboard percussion to “Eloise.”

        While he was working on it, Linda was taking Polaroids of him, which she often placed right in front of me and I watched them develop. I’ve wondered a million times why I didn’t ask her for one. They were so friendly I imagine she’d have given one to me.

        Afterwards, my dad, who did not want us to be a distraction or nuisance to them, attempted to say our goodbyes. Paul asked if we would stay and listen to everything they’d recorded so far since they’d been in town? Well, duh!

        They played us early mixes of “Eloise,” “Junior’s Farm” and “Sally G.” They also played “Bridge on the River Suite,” which they said they’d recorded in LA prior to their Nashville trip.

        Other memories: Paul’s Rickenbacker bass with the “Red Rose Speedway” sticker was there in the studio. I had a great verbal exchange with him when I got his autograph. My dad was impressed that they were not drinking and (appeared) straight during the proceedings. Dad had seen lots of nonsense from big stars in his career.

        Paul and Linda could not have been nicer to us. His “See you, chaps!” to us as they left the building still rings in my ears.

        Certainly, one of the all-time highlights of my life. ’74 was a great Beatles-related year for me. I saw George in concert at his Memphis show that November, and traveled with a high school group to London in December and have a number of Apple-related memories. Even though the Savile Row building was a shambles by that time (business had moved to 54 St James St,)the studio below was still in use. We were able to get a quick studio tour. Why I didn’t take more pictures I’ll never know.

        Great site, by the way. Thanks again.

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