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McCartney wrote this song in response to drug laws that criminalized him and his friends (including fellow "bands on the run" Eagles and Byrds). "We're not criminals," he explained. "We just would rather do this than hit the booze - which had been a traditional way to do it. We felt that this was a better move."
Shortly after the Band On The Run album was released, McCartney told Melody Maker: "The basic idea about the band on the run is a kind of prison escape. At the beginning of the album the guy is stuck inside four walls, and eventually breaks out. There is a thread, but it's not a concept album."
Asked if this was a reference to Wings escaping from The Beatles, he replied: "Sort of – yeah. I think most bands on tour are on the run."
The song begins in a metaphorical prison ("stuck inside these four walls..."). Where the orchestra comes in is where McCartney envisioned a hole being blasted in one of the walls, and the subsequent escape.
Paul McCartney combined pieces of different songs to make this one. The Beatles did a lot of this on their Sgt. Pepper
and Abbey Road
albums, since it provided a way to use unfinished songs. "A Day In The Life
" is a good example of two Beatles songs combined to make one.
During a lengthy meeting with executives at The Beatles' Apple Records, George Harrison complained, "If I ever get out of this house." McCartney remembered the line and used it years later in this song.
McCartney recorded the album in Lagos, Nigeria along with his wife Linda and guitarist Denny Laine. The other Wings decided not to make the trip, which worked out fine in the end: McCartney considers the album his best post-Beatles work. He told Word in 2005: "I was on drums and guitar a lot, mainly because the drummer decided to leave the group the night before and one of the guitar players decided not to come! So we got that solo element into an otherwise 'produced' album."
This song was used to nice effect in the movie The Killing Fields, where a young woman with a transistor radio listens to this in the wake of a brutal US bombing of a Cambodian village when suspected rebels are being rounded up and shot. The song exemplified the contrast between the sort of druggy, frivolous Pop culture of the 1970s West and the stark realities of the Third World at the same time. (thanks, Louis - Camden, NJ)
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