It was just the opening line, ‘There’s a fine line between recklessness and courage.’ You know, you’ll see some people just go, (sings) ‘Waaah’ and you’ll think, ‘that’s the way you do it and sometimes it is just foolish and just reckless but they think they’re being courageous’ so that thought really was what started me off and I just kind of followed on from that idea that you’ve got to choose which of the two you’re going to do, you know, be reckless or courageous so that was lyrically based on that. And then I just sat down at the piano and started that kind of chuggy thing, keeping it very simple and then the little hook, (sings) ‘Fine line, it’s a fine line’ came so I brought it into the studio in Los Angeles and I was working it out and on that little bit there’s a little riff that goes around the Fine line bit and when I was playing that I made a mistake and I went to a wrong bass note and Nigel [Godrich] goes, ‘That’s great. That’s it.’ I went, ‘Actually it’s a wrong note.’ He said, ‘No, no, check it out. Listen to it.’ ‘Ooh, I see what you mean.’ It just didn’t go where you expected it. It was supposed to be like an F# and it went to an F and so that became a really interesting little thing then. It was like, ‘Ah, OK, that’s good’. That’s got a little signature originality to it so that and the words and the tune then we just put that all together.
Chaos And Creation In The Backyard interview, July 2005
‘Fine Line’ was recorded at AIR Studios in London. Joby Talbot arranged the string quartet parts and conducted the Millennia Ensemble.
McCartney performed ‘Fine Line’ and ‘Helter Skelter’ at the 48th Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on 8 February 2006. ‘Fine Line’ was nominated in the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance category, but lost out to ‘From The Bottom Of My Heart’ by Stevie Wonder.
‘Fine Line’ was performed throughout McCartney’s US Tour in 2005, and once in 2008 in Quebec City, Canada.
‘Fine Line’ was released as a single on 29 August 2005, two weeks ahead of Chaos And Creation In The Backyard. The line art on the cover was by Brian Clarke.
The 7″ vinyl single had ‘Growing Up Falling Down’ on the b-side, and came with a 14″ lyric poster.
There were two CD singles – the first had the additional track ‘Comfort Of Love’, while the second contained that song and ‘Growing Up Falling Down’.
‘Fine Line’ was a top 20 hit in Denmark, Spain, and the United Kingdom, where it peaked at 20 on the official singles chart.
The song also appears on the 2016 compilation Pure McCartney, and the 7″ was included in the 2022 box set The 7″ Singles Box.