In keeping with the retrospective nature of the lyrics, shortly after the album’s release it was noticed that Memory Almost Full was an anagram of “For my soulmate LLM” (Linda Louise McCartney).
Paul McCartney initially refused to confirm or deny whether it was intentional, before eventually conceding it was a fortunate coincidence.
The album title came after I had finished everything. For me, that’s when they normally come, with the exception of maybe Sgt Peppers, otherwise I don’t think I have ever made an album with The Beatles, Wings or solo where I have thought of a title and a concept. I was thinking about what would sum the whole thing up and Memory Almost Full sprung to mind. It’s a phrase that seemed to embrace modern life; in modern life our brains can get a bit overloaded. I realised I had also seen it come up on my phone a few times. When I started bouncing the idea round with some friends they nearly all got different meanings out of it, but they all said they loved it. So the feedback helped solidify the title.
Memory Almost Full was McCartney’s first album release on Starbucks’ Hear Music label, has sold an estimated 1.5 million copies worldwide.
McCartney chose to partner with Hear Music following the end of his 45-year relationship with EMI/Capitol. Upon discovering that EMI were planning to spend six months setting up a promotional plan for his next album, he opted to sign to the Starbucks label instead.
The first single was Ever Present Past, released in the US on 15 May 2007. The song became the second UK single on 5 November.
The album was issued in the UK on 4 June 2007, and the following day in the US. A vinyl edition was released on 25 June.
In the US it debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, selling 161,000 copies in the first week. This made Memory Almost Full McCartney’s highest-charting album since 1997’s Flaming Pie. In the first week 47% of sales were from Starbucks outlets.
Memory Almost Full charted at number five in the UK. Although sales through Starbucks were not eligible in the Official UK Charts, it was nonetheless McCartney’s highest chart position for more than four years. It spent a total of six weeks on the album chart.
The album also went top 10 in Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Norway and Sweden.
The entire album was given away in the UK with the 18 May 2008 edition of the Mail On Sunday newspaper. It was housed in a cardboard slipcase bearing the words “For promotional use only – not for sale”. The previous week’s edition also contained a track-by-track feature to the album by McCartney.
Memory Almost Full was the first Paul McCartney album to be sold as a digital download. Pre-orders on the iTunes Music Store included a bonus acoustic version of Dance Tonight. The album topped the Billboard Internet Sales chart, and reached number three on the Billboard Top Internet Albums Downloads chart.
A two-CD limited edition set was also released. Housed in an oversized digipack, the second disc included the extra tracks In Private, Why So Blue and 222, plus an audio commentary by McCartney.
After completing the album I then started thinking about the album artwork and how I’d want it to look. I really wanted to make the CD a desirable object. Something that I know I’d want to pick up from the shelf, something that would make people curious. I hope our final concept has done that. The album sleeve itself includes an etching by a friend of mine, Humphrey Ocean. As with the album lyrics, I’m looking forward to seeing how people might interpret the artwork.
On 6 November 2007 a two-disc deluxe edition was issued. The CD contained the standard album plus the three extra songs from the two-CD version. It also came with a DVD featuring five live tracks recorded at the Electric Ballroom in London, plus videos for Dance Tonight and Ever Present Past. The live tracks were Drive My Car, Dance Tonight, House Of Wax, Nod Your Head and Only Mama Knows.
Dance Tonight was issued as the first UK single as a digital download on 18 June 2007, McCartney’s 65th birthday. It also received a physical release on 23 July as a 10″ shaped picture disc and CD single.
Dance Tonight also became the second US single, while the second UK single was Ever Present Past, released on 5 November. A third single, Nod Your Head, was a digital download available from the iTunes store.
Currently I’m just starting out on the promo trail and beginning to get the first bits of feedback about the album and so far so good! It’s interesting now as I’m getting to hear what other people are making of the songs and what their feelings are. I’m also talking about the album myself and I’m really enjoying the discovery process.
I really enjoyed making this album with David Kahne and I’m proud of all the songs. We had a great time. I hope that the fun we had will communicate itself to the people who are going to listen to it.