Mumbo

Album: Wild Life (1971)
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Songfacts®:

  • The phrase "Mumbo Jumbo" indicates meaningless or confusing language or action. It comes from the name given by 18th century Europeans to a grotesque idol said to have been worshipped by some African tribes. Here, Paul McCartney improvises lyrics that basically comprise a bunch of mumbo jumbo.
  • The Wings lineup that recorded this song comprised:

    Paul McCartney: vocals, bass, electric guitar
    Denny Laine: electric guitar
    Denny Seiwell: drums
    Linda McCartney: organ, piano
  • "Mumbo" is the opening track of Wings' debut album, Wild Life. In an attempt to capture the spontaneity of live performances, five of the record's eight songs were first takes by the band, including this one.

    "That song came from, you know, the band would just get an idea of a chord, or something," McCartney recalled in an interview on his website. "We'd just jam on it. And, it would be just, 'Okay, this is in F', or whatever key it's in. And we'd just play. And I'd sort of shout stuff over the top. It's all part of becoming a band. You know, you learn that I'm gonna be goofy and sing some goofy things."
  • The song originated when the Wings quartet was jamming and co-engineer Tony Clark hit the record button. McCartney, upon noticing, shouted "Take it, Tony," and started ad-libbing lyrics. "'Mumbo' is just a big scream of no words," said McCartney. "A wacky idea, cos it was just 'Whuurrrgghh A-hurrgghhh!' and we mixed it back so it was like 'Louie Louie.' Everyone's going, What are the words of that? Just hope they don't ask for the sheet music. Which no one ever did, luckily."
  • Paul McCartney has a long history of spontaneous lyrics, such as the three experimental, improvised Fireman albums he made with Martin "Youth" Glover. His McCartney III track, "Seize the Day," is another example of Macca making up the words on the spot.
  • Wings' August 22, 1972 performance of the song at their concert in Antwerp, Belgium, is Track 5 on the live album Wings Over Europe. McCartney released the record in 2018 as part of the limited edition boxset Wings 1971-73.

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