Paul McCartney: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, piano, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, Moog synthesizer, harmonium, autoharp, flugelhorn, melodica, spinet, cello, vibrachimes, tubular bells, drums, tambourine, maracas, shaker, guiro, gong, triangle, toy glockenspiel, percussion block, tape loops
Nigel Godrich: acoustic guitar, tape loops
Jason Falkner: electric guitar, classical guitar
Rusty Anderson, Brian Ray: acoustic guitar
James Gadson: drums
Joey Waronker: bass drum, bongos, shaker
Abe Laboriel Jr: percussion block, tambourine
Pedro Eustache: duduk
Millennia Ensemble: strings, brass
Los Angeles Music Players: strings
‘How Kind Of You’
‘At The Mercy’
‘Friends To Go’
‘Too Much Rain’
‘A Certain Softness’
‘Riding To Vanity Fair’
‘Promise To You Girl’
‘This Never Happened Before’
‘I’ve Only Got Two Hands’ (hidden track)
Chaos And Creation In The Backyard was Paul McCartney’s 13th solo studio album. It was produced by Nigel Godrich, and recorded over a two year period in London and Los Angeles.
McCartney began recording the project with David Kahne, who had produced Driving Rain and the live albums Back In The US and Back In The World. The pair recorded around eight songs together before the sessions were scrapped.
Nigel Godrich was appointed at the suggestion of George Martin. The pair began their collaboration by recording the songs ‘This Never Happened Before’ and ‘Follow Me’.
My initial reaction was one of terror, not only because it’s a very important person, but I really wasn’t sure how willing he would be to get his hands dirty.
These early recordings were made with McCartney’s touring band. However, Godrich encouraged him to play most of the instruments himself, and to make a more simple-sounding album.
First week, I came in with my live band, thinking that might be the way we’d go. But he started to intimate toward the end of the week that he wanted, as he put it, to take me out of my safety zone, to do something different.
Godrich’s aim was to break the songwriting and recording routine in which he felt McCartney had become stuck. His often blunt appraisal of the songs caused some tension between the two, but ultimately resulted in a more open working relationship between the musician and producer.
There were some tense moments making the album. Nigel wasn’t sycophantic; he said from the off, ‘I warn you, I know what I like.’ There was some heated discussion. There’s a song called ‘Riding To Vanity Fair’ where we got down to [snarls] ‘I like it!’, ‘I don’t like it!’, ‘Well I like it!’ But then I realised there’s no point in charging him down like that; I should listen. We actually moved on to why he didn’t like it – ‘The first line’s good, but after that…’ ‘Oh, how about this then?’
At the time, McCartney’s public profile was high, due in part to his marriage to Heather Mills, and celebrated performances at the 2004 Glastonbury Festival and the following year’s Live 8 concert. Godrich, meanwhile, was a Grammy Award-winning producer who had worked with Radiohead, Beck, U2, and REM.
The third session, he came back and played me a song, and I was like, ‘Fucking hell, that’s so much better.’ That was ‘At The Mercy’. He said, ‘I think I’m remembering how to do this!’ Maybe he was expressing the concept of having to better what he’s doing because someone was going to look at him and say, ‘Not sure,’ rather than just blindly taking everything that he proffers.