Helen Wheels

Album: Band On The Run (1973)
Charted: 12 10
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • "Helen Wheels" was Paul's tongue-in-cheek nickname for his Land Rover vehicle ("Hell-on-Wheels").
  • Paul originally wanted this song to be a stand-alone single but Capitol overruled him and put it on US versions of the Band On The Run album despite his objections. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ken - Louisville, KY, for above 2
  • The band recorded this song in Lagos, Nigeria, as Paul McCartney wanted to work (and play) in an exotic location. When a band records in Africa, it usually results in tribal rhythms and a sound fitting of the area, often with contributions from local musicians. Not so for the Band On The Run album - they went out of their way to avoid an African sound after McCartney was robbed at knifepoint and accused of coming to Lagos to exploit their music. After 6 weeks in Lagos, the album was completed in London, and you'd never know from listening to it that the band had been to Africa.

Comments: 7

  • Dennis from Spokane WaSir Paul McCartney as always be the best in my book songs I've always loved he will always be loved for his songs thank you god bless
  • Don from Sevierville, TnI always thought this song bore resemblance to Got to Get You into My Life.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 6th 1974, "Helen Wheels" by Paul McCartney peaked at #10 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on November 18th, 1973 and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #12 in the United Kingdom...
    Between 1973 and 1982 he had three others records that also peaked at #10 on the Top 100; "Hi, Hi,Hi" (1973), "Maybe I'm Amazed" (1977), and "Take It Away" (1982); and the Beatles had one record to peak at #10, "P.S. I Love You" in 1964...
    Sir James Paul McCartney will celebrate his 72nd birthday come June 18th.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyIn 1979 Cher released a record titled "Hell On Wheels"; it peaked at No. 59 and it stayed in the Top 100 for five weeks!!!
  • Pat from St. Paul, MnAlways wondered why there were no lyrics for this song on the inner sleeve of the "Band On The Run" album. If McCartney didn't intend for the song to be on the album, it makes sense that the lyrics weren't included.
  • Rich from Bellevue, WaNot quite true. While the song is overwhelmingly on an A chord, there is a touch of E in there, during the words "never gonna take her a-".
  • Kevin from Reading , PaFans know that this fun little tune is in the vein of numerous McCartney rockers throughout the 70s, with a chugging electric guitar propelling the song nicely along ("Junior's Farm," "Girls School," etc. etc.) Guitar players will find it interesting that the song is built enitrely around an "A" chord. There are no changes. The numerous lead guitar parts give the song an illusion of chord changes, but, in fact, there are none.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Rosanne Cash

Rosanne CashSongwriter Interviews

Rosanne talks about the journey that inspired her songs on her album The River & the Thread, including a stop at the Tallahatchie Bridge.

Peter Lord

Peter LordSongwriter Interviews

You may not recognize his name, but you will certainly recognize Peter Lord's songs. He wrote the bevy of hits from Paula Abdul's second album, Spellbound.

Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"

Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"They're Playing My Song

"How much does it cost? I'll buy it?" Another songwriter told Jonathan to change these lyrics. Good thing he ignored this advice.

Max Cavalera of Soulfly (ex-Sepultura)

Max Cavalera of Soulfly (ex-Sepultura)Songwriter Interviews

The Brazilian rocker sees pictures in his riffs. When he came up with one of his gnarliest songs, there was a riot going on.

David Bowie Leads the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men

David Bowie Leads the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired MenSong Writing

Bowie's "activist" days of 1964 led to Ziggy Stardust.

Charlie Benante of Anthrax

Charlie Benante of AnthraxSongwriter Interviews

The drummer for Anthrax is also a key songwriter. He explains how the group puts their songs together and tells the stories behind some of their classics.