‘A Certain Softness’ is the eighth song on Paul McCartney’s 13th solo album Chaos And Creation In The Backyard.

‘A Certain Softness’ is just a straightforward love song, to me. I like things like Brazilian music, I like that sort of rhythmic, Latiny kind of thing. I think it’s sexy, very romantic, and I was actually on a holiday, where I do a lot of writing because it’s where I’ve got a lot of time. Here’s me, I go on holiday to work! I don’t think of it as work, it’s more, I just enjoy just sitting around. And I was in Greece, actually, on a boat trip, and this sort of Latiny moment came upon me. I just found some nice chords and this idea of a certain softness in her eyes and a certain sadness haunts me.

It’s just sort of all the love songs that I’ve heard and the ones I love, ’cause I love a lot of old fashioned stuff, it’s just so well crated. I have a lot of influences from before my time, before my dad’s time even you know, people like Fred Astaire, people like that I listen to and love really. The craft behind it all. So sometimes all that just floods in and becomes a new song, if I’m lucky. And that was one of them.

I like very much the way we recorded it, which was very simple. It was just me playing guitar, and we just decided to have a go at it. And this was in LA and the bongo player, Joey, was just sitting on the floor, and the guitar player was just sort of sitting there, and I had a guitar, so it was just two guitars and bongos, so it was very informal. But we just got a good little take on it, you know and so then we built it up from there, and its got a very intimate sound on the record. I like particularly the sound on that record.

Paul McCartney
Chaos And Creation In The Backyard interview, July 2005

The song was recorded in April 2004, a year before the bulk of the Chaos And Creation album sessions. ‘A Certain Softness’, as well as ‘At The Mercy’ and the b-sides ‘Growing Up Falling Down’ and ‘I Want You To Fly’, were recorded with guitarist Jason Falkner.

I remember we were recording on the first day, and Paul and I were both on acoustic guitars. And I was like playing this very simple song, and I was looking around the studio and I forget every once in a while where I was, because I was just kind of lost in the song. And I look up at Paul and he’s trying to get my attention, and he mouths, ‘Where are we?’ – meaning in the arrangement. Like, what’s coming up? Is it the second chorus or the third? What’s happening? And I knew exactly where I was until he asked me. And just because he was like ‘Where are we?’ I was like, ‘I-I don’t know! Fuck!’ We just collapsed. Hilarious!/div>

Jason Falkner
Transatlantic Modern, 11 March 2013

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