Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Memory Almost FullReleased: 2007
This is Paul McCartney's song about how he wants to be remembered after he dies. He was inspired by George Harrison. Paul and Ringo visited George in Los Angeles weeks before his death and were amazed that during the entire visit, despite being in great pain and facing death, George was upbeat, told jokes and recalled stories about their early days in the Beatles. Paul said that is how he would want to be remembered, with "jokes to be told and stories of old."
In an interview with Word magazine January 2008, McCartney was asked about this song, and if he's thinking more about mortality. The 65-year-old former Beatle replied; "I heard someone - I think it was James Taylor - say in a lyric "the day I die," and it prompted me to think of my death as a subject. So I got into that and found that I was interested in the Irish Wake idea, and jokes being told and stories of old, rather than the solemn, Anglican, doom-laden event. But it's not a subject that anyone visits that much. It's not too jolly, I suppose. It doesn't make a great song to dance to."
Paul McCartney (from the Mail on Sunday May 12, 2008): "I'd read something somebody had written about dying and I thought, 'That's brave.' It seemed courageous to deal with the subject rather than just shy away from it. So I fancied looking at it as a subject myself. I like the Irish approach of a wake, where it's celebratory. I remember once an Irish woman wished me well by saying, 'I wish you a good death,' and I said, 'ay what?'
I thought about it later and actually it's a great thing to wish someone. I thought, 'Well, what would I like?' Jokes, a wake, music, rather than everyone sitting around looking glum, saying, 'He was a great guy' - though they can do a bit of that, too. So that led into the verse, 'On the day that I die I'd like jokes to be told and stories of old to be rolled out like carpets.' I have played it to my family and they find it very moving because, you know, it's Dad. It's a strange combination, because you're talking about a serious subject. But I'm dealing with it lightly."