Paul McCartney: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, tambourine, percussion
Rusty Anderson: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, pedal steel guitar, 12-string guitar, bass guitar, tambura, percussion
Abe Laboriel Jr: vocals, drums, electronic percussion, tambourine, accordion
Gabe Dixon: vocals, piano, electric piano, organ, keyboards, percussion
David Kahne: organ, guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, organ, electric piano
James McCartney: guitar
Eric Clapton: guitar
Ralph Morrison: violin
David Campbell, Matt Funes: viola
Joel Derouin: violin
Larry Corbett: cello
‘From A Lover To A Friend’
‘She’s Given Up Talking’
‘Spinning On An Axis’
‘Back In The Sunshine Again’
‘Your Loving Flame’
‘Riding Into Jaipur’
‘Rinse The Raindrops’
Fourteen of the album’s songs were composed by McCartney alone, while two – ‘Spinning On An Axis’ and ‘Back In The Sunshine Again’ – were co-written with his son James.
The lyrics on the album are kind of quite simple; there’s nothing deeply deep. I’m not trying too hard, I’m just spinning them out, not worried if I’ve heard a phrase before and just gone for it. There’s a couple of songs on this where I’ve just put two songs, or fragments of songs, together. I just thought, ‘That will go with that.’ It meant at times that instead of getting a 4/4, four beats to the bar, in slamming them together you’d get a 5/4, but I thought that’s OK, I’d fix it later. But when I played it to the band and to the producer, they loved those little odd bars.
The final song, ‘Freedom’, was written in response to the 9/11 attacks in America. On the morning of 11 September 2001 McCartney and Mills were on an aeroplane waiting to leave New York for England, when terrorists truck the Twin Towers and all flights were grounded. From his window McCartney could see smoke rising from the towers.
‘Freedom’ was first performed at the Concert For New York City at Madison Square Garden on 20 October 2001, which McCartney helped organise. The song was later given studio overdubs, but as a late addition to ‘Driving Rain’ was not listed on initial copies of the album.
A number of the other songs had been written in Goa, India in January 2001. They included ‘Lonely Road’, ‘I Do’, ‘About You’, and the lyrics of ‘Riding Into Jaipur’; the music had been written some time before in the Maldives.
Three of the songs were written in India. ‘Your Loving Flame’ was written on the 36th floor of the Carlyle Hotel in New York, just because I thought I was walking into a Cole Porter movie. ‘Driving Rain’ was written in Los Angeles – there was a lot of rain and so on our day off we went off for a drive in this little corvette that I hired, we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway and went up to Malibu and had a bit of lunch. In the evening, feeling great after a nice day out, I was sitting around at the piano and I just started writing something half based on that day out. People say ‘how do you get your creativity’ and I think the answer is you just have to be open to stuff.
McCartney’s Indian holiday had affected his voice during the sessions, as he later recalled:
When I was in India, a carpet salesman ripped me off. He told me that this carpet was the rarest thing ever but when I got to the next town I found another 20 of them. So I rang him and during the argument, and not helped by the weather, I started to lose my voice. The following day it went totally. I couldn’t talk. With only a week to the recording sessions, I still couldn’t get the high notes. So I came to LA with my voice in quite a rough shape and decided to do the easy songs first, just to get the tracks down. But then I ended up just letting loose on one track, this monster 10-minute song called ‘Rinse The Raindrops’, where I really ripped it, and it all came good. It’s a nice quality if you can get it, a rawness. My voice has never been trained, so I just cross my fingers and go for it. I just wing it every time, like I always have done.
At 10 minutes, ‘Rinse The Raindrops’ was McCartney’s longest released studio track since 1980’s ‘Secret Friend’. He and the band jammed the song for around 30 minutes, from which producer David Kahne edited the final version.