Ram On

Ram album artwork - Paul and Linda McCartneyWritten by: McCartney
Recorded: 22 February, March-April 1971
Producer: Paul and Linda McCartney

Released: 21 May 1971 (UK), 17 May 1971 (US)

Paul McCartney: vocals, piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, ukulele, drums, percussion
Linda McCartney: backing vocals

Available on:
Ram
Thrillington

Lyrically and musically simple, Ram On appeared in two forms on Paul and Linda McCartney's 1971 album Ram.



Ram on
Give your heart to somebody soon
Right away, right away
Ram on
Give your heart to somebody soon
Right away, right away

McCartney had used the pseudonym Paul Ramon during The Silver Beetles' 1960 tour of Scotland with Johnny Gentle, and again in May 1969 when drumming on Steve Miller's My Dark Hour.

Now we were truly professional [in 1960], we could do something we had been toying with for a long time, which was to change our names to real showbiz names. I became Paul Ramon, which I thought was suitably exotic. I remember the Scottish girls saying, 'Is that his real name? That's great.' It's French, Ramon. Ra-mon, that's how you pronounce it. Stuart became Stuart de Staël after the painter. George became Carl Harrison after Carl Perkins (our big idol, who had written 'Blue Suede Shoes'). John was Long John. People have since said, 'Ah, John didn't change his name, that was very suave.' Let me tell you: he was Long John. There was none of that 'he didn't change his name': we all changed our names.
Paul McCartney
Anthology

The Steve Miller recording came about in the dying days of The Beatles. A mixing session ended in acrimony when John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr attempted to persuade Paul McCartney to sign a contract to officially appoint Allen Klein as Apple's financial manager. McCartney wanted to hold out, and the session ended when all but he walked out.

Steve Miller happened to be there recording, late at night, and he just breezed in. 'Hey, what's happening, man? Can I use the studio?' 'Yeah!' I said. 'Can I drum for you? I just had a fucking unholy argument with the guys there.' I explained it to him, took ten minutes to get it off my chest. So I did a track, he and I stayed that night and did a track of his called My Dark Hour. I thrashed everything out on the drums. There's a surfeit of aggressive drum fills, that's all I can say about that. We stayed up until late. I played bass, guitar and drums and sang backing vocals. It's actually a pretty good track.

It was a very strange time in my life and I swear I got my first grey hairs that month. I saw them appearing. I looked in the mirror, I thought, I can see you. You're all coming now. Welcome.

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

McCartney's use of the pseudonym Paul Ramon is fascinating. Was he - possibly subconsciously - attempting to turn back the clock to a more harmonious time for The Beatles, when they were on the cusp of success and happy to work together as a tight unit?

It is tempting, then, to wonder if McCartney wrote Ram On about himself. Certainly a number of his songs in 1970-71 were about The Beatles' break-up, the peace he found away from the city, and his love of family life with Linda. In this context, "Ram on, give your heart to somebody soon" may well have been McCartney telling himself (Ramon) not to waste his time or hold back in his post-Beatles life.

Although Ram On's song's introduction contains a flourish of piano and electric piano, at the heart of Ram On is a simply strummed ukulele. It was the first time McCartney had played the instrument on a recording.

Ram On is a cute little thing on a ukulele, 'cause I used to carry one around with me in the back of New York taxis just to always have music with me. They thought I was freak, those taxi drivers.
Paul McCartney
Mojo, 2001

On Abbey Road, McCartney had experimented with using recurring musical themes and motifs across an album. Ram On saw him adapt this by fading the song on side one, then reintroducing it during the second half. This gave an effect of continuity across the song cycle, although the song would echo much further into his career.

The closing lines of Ram On - "Who's that coming round that corner?/Who's that coming round that bend?" were later revived and re-recorded by McCartney for the first stanza of Big Barn Bed, the opening song on Wings' 1973 album Red Rose Speedway.

Additionally, the opening piano was used 22 years after it was recorded, for the music accompanying the film that opened his 1993 New World Tour concerts.

McCartney performed Ram On occasionally during his 2011-12 On The Run tour, in response to audience requests.

Despite expressing antipathy towards Ram, John Lennon expressed a liking for Ram On, among other moments on the album.

I thought it [Ram] was awful! McCartney was better because at least there were some tunes on it, like Junk. I liked the beginning of Ram On, the beginning of Uncle Albert and I liked some of My Dog's Got Three Legs. I liked the little bit about 'Hands across the water', but it just tripped off all the time. I didn't like that a bit!
John Lennon

On the 1977 album Thrillington, which reimagined Ram with an orchestral arrangement, the main melody for Ram On was performed on an oboe.

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