‘Getting Closer’ is the second track on Wings’ final album Back To The Egg.

Paul McCartney wrote the song in 1973, recording both a piano demo and a performance on acoustic guitar that year.

A song like this might be thought of as a collage. I put things together that I’d seen or heard, and it had been around for a few years before we recorded it. I seem to remember there being a sign along the road somewhere: ‘Beware Cattle’. And there might have been bullet holes in the signs, because guys sniped at them for target practice, so I thought, ‘Cattle beware… Gluing my fingers together/Radio play me a song with a point.’ You know, not everything needs to have a point. A song is kind of a construction job, so I’ve done my usual thing of just sort of assembling it all and taking it somewhere.

Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for Getting Closer

Wings initially worked on the song at Lympe Castle, though the final version was taped at Abbey Road Studios on 16 and 17 October 1978. It was initially intended as a duet between McCartney and Denny Laine, but the idea was abandoned.

Lympne Castle is a grand old building in Kent, in the southeast of England. It was owned by two rather aristocratic people – Harry and Deirdre Margary. They were very posh. We would write and record, and then they’d invite me in for a drink in the evening, and I’d go and have a little whisky before I went home. I remember working on this song there, even though we ended up finishing and recording it at Abbey Road.

We recorded a whole bunch of stuff at Lympne Castle. Why? I don’t know. I suspect because it was nearish to where we lived, on the way to Folkestone on the south coast. We took a mobile truck there, and we more or less went in and recorded the album Back To The Egg, so you’d get these kinds of slightly oddball things happening and oddball songs coming out. I was probably smoking a little too much wacky baccy at the time.

One of the things about Wings was this freedom to not make sense. Sometimes I just liked the words and I wasn’t bothered about making sense. ‘Say you don’t love him’ – that’s not from any real experience, it’s not like I was being jilted or cuckolded or anything; it was a device to get me into the song. ‘I’m getting closer to your heart.’ I’m also arriving, driving towards where you are. ‘Keeping ahead of the rain on the road/Watching my windscreen wipers/Radio playing me a danceable ode’. ‘Hitting the chisel and making a joint’… You knew your audience would be amused by those little references, because rolling joints was still a little bit underground at that time.

The release

‘Getting Closer’ was released as a single on 5 June 1979 ahead of Back To The Egg in the US, with ‘Spin It On’ on the b-side. It reached number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The album followed on 8 June 1979 in the UK, and 11 June 1979 in the US.

In the UK, ‘Getting Closer’ was issued as a single on 16 August, a double a-side with ‘Baby’s Request’. It was not a commercial success, peaking at number 60 on the official chart.

Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for Getting Closer

Previous song: ‘Reception’
Next song: ‘We’re Open Tonight’
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