‘C Moon’ was released on Wings’ third single, as a double a-side with ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’.
The song’s pop-reggae beat was partly influenced by a Jamaican holiday Paul and Linda McCartney had taken at the end of 1971. The Beatles had experimented with ska and reggae as far back as 1964, and McCartney incorporated reggae into a number of his post-Beatles songs, from ‘Live And Let Die’ to ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reggae’.
We both loved the music and going to Jamaica became our big ambition. When we did, we really fell in love with it: the country, the people, the music, the lifestyle, the weather. We spent weeks there, soaking up a lot of reggae – it was the start of rap but they used to call it toasting. There was a radio station called RJR that played reggae all day long, and a little shop in Montego Bay called Tony’s Record Store where we used to sift through all the 45s. It reminded us of the 1950s. We’d buy them by the titles – one record was called ‘Poison Pressure’ by Lennon-McCartney. I thought, ‘Oh yeah? This is interesting.’ It was no song I’d ever had a part in, nor John. Maybe we weren’t the only Lennon-McCartney in the world, though – perhaps it was Moses Lennon and Winston McCartney.
Wingspan: Paul McCartney’s Band On The Run
The title, meanwhile, was inspired by a line from the 1964 song ‘Wooly Bully’ by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. The song contained the line “Let’s not be L7”, meaning square, and ‘C Moon’ was McCartney’s attempt to indicate the opposite.
I was looking for a reggaeish kind of song. ‘L’ and ‘7’ put together mean ‘square’ in American jive talk: the ‘L’ had been one part of the square and the ‘7’ had formed the other part. I thought, what’s ‘cool’ then? So we had a ‘C’ and a half moon for the other half and we figured that ‘C Moon’ meant cool.
Club Sandwich 47/48, Spring 1988
On Saturday 25 November 1972, promo videos for ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’ and ‘C Moon’ were shot at Southampton Studio of Southern Television in the UK. They were directed by Steve Turner, and were distributed on 16mm film.
In the studio
‘C Moon’ was recorded at Morgan Studios in London in October 1972, with overdubs following at EMI Studios, Abbey Road.
The basic track had piano, bass guitar, tambourine, drums, and xylophone. Unusually, drummer Denny Seiwell played xylophone on the song, and guitarist Henry McCullough played drums. McCartney and Seiwell also added cornet parts as overdubs.
The first day they’d come from Morgan Studios and had recorded the song. They had done a mix and didn’t really like it. We spent the afternoon doing some kind of remix of the track and overdubbing some handclaps.
Paul McCartney Recording Sessions (1969-2013), Luca Perasi
The relaxed atmosphere during the sessions extended to mistakes being embraced. During the intro McCartney says “Was that the intro? I should have been in!”, and at the close asks “OK! Shall we do another one?”
According to a report in the Melody Maker, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham joined Wings in the studio around the same time. They jammed ‘C Moon’, a performance which sadly remains unreleased.
It was issued three days later in the United States. The song reached number 10 in January 1973, becoming Wings’ first top 10 hit outside the UK.
‘Hi, Hi, Hi’ was banned by BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 upon its release, making it Wings’ second single within a year to be banned. The first had been ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’, which called for a united republic of Ireland and was deemed too controversial by the broadcaster.
Remarkably, however, it wasn’t the drug references in ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’ that initially caught the BBC’s notice. The song’s publisher, Northern Songs, had sent radio stations a lyric sheet which erroneously transcribed the line “Get ready for my polygon” as “Get ready for my body gun”.
The ambiguity of the line most likely concealed a sexual innuendo anyway, but, regardless of McCartney’s true intention, it was deemed beyond the pale for sensitive listeners in 1972. Instead, radio stations gave more air time to the ‘C Moon’.
To me, ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’ was a perfectly harmless little rock and roll song – ‘we’re gonna get high-high-high’. In my mind, if someone gets drunk then they’re getting high. But because of the times it was equated with pot, and so, again, the BBC banned it. They played the other side, ‘C Moon’. That was a safer track, a nice track, but ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’ used to go down better at concerts.
Wingspan: Paul McCartney’s Band On The Run
‘C Moon’ first appeared on an album on the compilation All The Best!, released in 1987. It was also included in the 2001 set Wingspan: Hits And History.
Wings performed ‘C Moon’ during their British Tour in 1973 and their Wings Over The World Tour in 1975. It was always played as part of a medley with the Ram outtake ‘Little Woman Love’, which was released in 1972 as the b-side of ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’.
I don’t think we’ve gotten our potential on record yet. Maybe ‘C Moon’ or ‘Band On The Run’, where Paul played drums and things, and could get what he wanted.
Conversations With McCartney, Paul Du Noyer
McCartney often sang ‘C Moon’ in soundchecks during his world tour in 1989/90. One version, recorded in Milan on 26 October 1989, was the b-side of his ‘All My Trials’ single in November 1990.
On 10 December 1992 McCartney performed at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City, for the MTV show Up Close. ‘C Moon’ was one of the 13 songs played.
It became part of his setlist during the Driving Tour of 2002/3, with a recording available on the live album Back In The US.