Think ‘Eleanor Rigby’ meets Hitchcock’s Rear Window. For, much as I hate to admit it, there is indeed a voyeuristic aspect to this song. Like many writers, I really am a bit of a voyeur; if there’s a lit window and there’s someone in it, I will watch them. Hands up, guilty. It’s a very, very natural thing.
In a strange way, I may be interested in this subject matter because I get stared at quite a lot myself. It’s because I have a recognisable face. It happens in the underground, on the subway, which I take when I can. You don’t think people are looking at you until a little bit later, and you realise they were. Of course, I’m also looking back at them too. So I get to experience this from both sides.
The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present
The song first emerged during The Beatles’ Get Back/Let It Be sessions, suggesting it was written in early 1969 or possibly the year before. McCartney performed the song solo at Twickenham Film Studios on 9 January 1969, and again at Apple Studios on 25 January. McCartney’s first run-through was on piano, with the first two verses mostly written but lacking a middle section. The second attempt was on acoustic guitar.
‘Another Day’ was one of McCartney’s songs about fictional people. He had written similar songs in the past, such as ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘For No One’, and it was a songwriting technique he would increasingly turn to in the coming years.
The lyrics tell the story of a woman living on her own in an unnamed city, locked in a mundane daily routine of going to work, coming home to an empty flat and dreaming of “the man of her dreams” who fleetingly “comes to break the spell”. Drummer Denny Seiwell described the song as “Eleanor Rigby in New York City.”
The songwriting credits for ‘Another Day’ were to “Mr and Mrs McCartney”. As a result, half of the publishing rights were claimed by Maclen Music Ltd, and the other half by a new company called McCartney Inc.
John Lennon had similarly co-credited Yoko Ono for some of his recent releases, and Lew Grade, who in September 1969 had taken a controlling stake in Northern Songs, saw their actions as a transparent attempt to claw back 50% of the publishing royalties.
Lew Grade suddenly saw his songwriting concessions – which he’s just paid an awful lot of money for, virtually to get hold of John and I – he suddenly saw that I was now claiming that I was writing half of my stuff with Linda, and that if I was writing half of it she was entitled to a pure half of it, no matter whether she was a recognised songwriter or not. I didn’t think that that was important: I thought that whoever I worked with, no matter what the method of collaboration was, that person, if they did help me on the song, should have a portion of the song for helping me.
In July 1971 Paul and Linda were sued by Northern Songs and Maclen Music for $1,050,000 (approximately £437,000), for violating an exclusive rights agreement with the song ‘Another Day’.
The case was settled in June 1972 when Grade’s company ATV announced that “all differences between them have been amicably settled” and that the couple had signed a new seven-year co-publishing contract between ATV and McCartney Music. McCartney also agreed to take part in a television programme titled James Paul McCartney. Broadcast in 1973, it featured McCartney and Wings performing a selection of old and new songs.
‘Another Day’ was mentioned by Lennon in ‘How Do You Sleep?’, his pointed attack on McCartney. The second verse compares McCartney’s song to one of The Beatles’ most popular, with the lines: “The only thing you done was ‘Yesterday’, and since you’re gone you’re just another day”.
Despite Lennon’s antipathy towards it, ‘Another Day’ became part of McCartney’s live repertoire right into the 21st century, and has appeared in a number of best-of compilations.
In the studio
Recording for ‘Another Day’ took place on 12 October 1970 at Columbia Studios in New York City. Additional overdubs were taped in January the following year at the city’s A&R Studios.
McCartney brought a number of songs to the sessions, which initially took place with Linda, guitarist David Spinozza and drummer Denny Seiwell. “He’d strap on a guitar or piano and start playing and singing a tune and we’d learn the tune and start recording,” Seiwell recalled. “We just did a tune a day.”
Great song. I remember doing many tracks of overdubbed guitar parts. I thought it was a magical song and production.
The song was one of a relatively small number of McCartney solo recordings to be mixed in mono, which included the Ram album.
‘Another Day’ was selected as a single not by McCartney, but on the suggestion of studio assistant Dixon Van Winkle.
We were sitting in Studio A2 one day listening to the takes and Paul asked me to pick the single. I had definite feelings about the record and was in love with ‘Another Day’. Paul said, ‘OK. ‘Another Day’ it is.’ I mixed the track and David Crawford cut about 100 copies of it in a back room at A&R for the radio stations. The next day, when I heard it on the air, I realised it was a disaster. We got carried away with the bass part, and when it hit the radio station’s compressor, it pumped like crazy. I learned that lesson real quick! But we never remixed the song, and Paul never said anything about it.
It was released with the b-side ‘Oh Woman, Oh Why’, a blues-style rocker with rasping vocals from McCartney, which was the hardest-sounding of the Ram recordings.
This was just after The Beatles broke up, and I was trying to establish myself as a solo artist with a new repertoire. If it was going to work like the Beatles repertoire had worked, I had to have a hit. One in two songs had to be a hit. So, this was a conscious effort to write a hit, and Phil [Ramone] was very helpful. We knew that if we had a hit, it would cement our relationship and we would keep working together, which we did with the Ram album. It would prove that we were both good – he as a producer and I as a singer-songwriter.
Releasing my first solo song after the breakup felt like a big moment. Thrilling, though tinged with sadness. It also felt like I had something to prove, and that kind of challenge is always exciting.
The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present
Although it was initially released as a standalone single, ‘Another Day’ was later included on reissues of Ram.