McCartney III was the third completely solo homespun Paul McCartney album, following 1970’s McCartney and 1980’s McCartney II.

The album was announced on 21 October 2020, ahead of its 18 December release date (moved back a week due to “unforeseeable production delays”), and was made available on compact disc, various vinyl editions, digital download, and streaming services.

It was kind of unintentional. I had to go into the studio at the beginning of lockdown to do a couple of bits of music for an animated short film. So I got got in and did that bit of work and sent it off to the director, and then I thought, ‘Oh, this is nice, I’m enjoying this, this is a nice way to spend lockdown,’ so I ended up finishing off some songs, looking at bits and bobs, making up stuff, and generally enjoying myself in the studio. And then I’d come home in the evening, and I just happened to be with my daughter Mary’s family. The combination of being able to go to work, make some music, and then hang out with four of my grandkids, I was very lucky. Y’know, we were being super careful, but being able to make music really helped.

Right at the end of it, I’d just been stockpiling tracks, and I thought, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of this – I guess I’ll hang onto it,’ and then I thought, ‘Wait a minute, this is a McCartney record,’ because I’d played everything and done it in the same manner as McCartney I and II. That was a little light bulb going off, and I thought, ‘Well, at least that makes a point of explaining what I’ve been doing, unbeknownst to me.’

Paul McCartney

Cover artwork

The principal photography for McCartney III was by Paul’s daughter Mary, with additional shots by his nephew Sonny McCartney – the son of Paul’s brother Mike. Extra photographs were taken by Paul on a smartphone.

The cover art and typography is by American artist Ed Ruscha. It uses a modified version of Ruscha’s own typeface, Boy Scout Utility Modern. The tie (middle horizontal line) of the letter ‘E’ is narrower on McCartney III than in Ruscha’s normal lettering.

I first met Ed Ruscha through my daughter, Stella, and since then have visited his studio quite a few times. He is a very easy going, humorous guy and ‘of course’ a very skilful painter. His treatments are ingenious and intriguing. Nancy asked Ed to paint a picture for my birthday which uses the phrase ‘For Life’ which is taken from the song ‘My Valentine’, which I wrote for her. It is a beautiful picture with the text in his usual deadpan signature style. The lettering font he uses reminds me of art classes I used to take as a teenager in the Liverpool Institute where we learned to write the alphabet in this style and I enjoyed it so much I even offered to do the lettering on one piece of George’s homework! I feel happy to know him and his family and hope you enjoy reading the essay we have put together for the website.
Paul McCartney, 15 March 2019

The vinyl variants contain different photographic montages inside the gatefold, with at least three different known versions.

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