‘Golden Earth Girl’ is the eighth song on Off The Ground, Paul McCartney’s ninth solo studio album.

Though this song is primarily an ode to Linda, who really was a ‘golden earth girl’, and my wife of twenty-four years by the time this was released, it also gives a little bit of a nod towards John and Yoko. Yoko often said things like, ‘Look at that cloud,’ or used words connected with nature. I’d always liked that about her work, and then John picked up on it later with his surreal way of swapping things around…

In his lyrics, John would include allusions to Yoko and nature, like using ‘ocean child’ in the song ‘Julia’, which, I understand, is how her name translates into English, and I’m using similar sort of imagery here for Linda – ‘Good clear water, friend of wilderness’. Funnily enough, John wrote a song for the White Album called ‘Child Of Nature’, that didn’t end up on the record, and he rewrote it as ‘Jealous Guy’. As I’ve said, Linda really helped me find another side of myself. If anyone deserves the title ‘Child of Nature’, it’s her.

A memorial service for Linda McCartney was held on 8 June 1998 at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in London. The Brodsky Quartet played a series of songs written by Paul for his wife: ‘Golden Earth Girl’, ‘Dear Boy’, ‘Calico Skies’, and ‘My Love’.

‘Golden Earth Girl’ was recorded again for Working Classical in 1999. That version featured the Loma Mar Quartet, and was produced by John Fraser.

‘Calico Skies’ is a piece for acoustic guitar that McCartney wrote in America. The unmistakable suggestion of early music is quite deliberate: when he was composing it, McCartney recalled the image of a medieval musician banging away on a tabor. In complete contrast comes ‘Golden Earth Girl’, a vision of Linda as a blonde, gently tanned nature girl, totally at one with her surroundings. McCartney fondly imagines her contentedly curled up in a huge moss-lined nest.
Working Classical sleevenotes
Julian Haylock

In the studio

The recording of ‘Golden Earth Girl’ began at McCartney’s Hog Hill Studio on 9 December 1991. Work continued until its completion in July 1992.

Paul was thinking of doing that with an orchestra and I don’t quite know how it became a band number. But it works. All we added was a flute and an oboe playing the melody in the solo section.
Hamish Stuart
New World Tour programme

The oboe and flute overdub session took place on 18 May at The Hit Factory on Whitfield Street, London.

Paul came out from the recording box and talked to us, me and Susan Milan on flute. The way he was asking us to play was not the way we were used to be asked. He didn’t have that sort of professional language, but he was always charming. He knew exactly where he wanted it to go… He got a very clear idea about the solo: how it should be phrased, how it should be sounding. I was very impressed by that.

Our parts for flute and oboe were played together at the same time. It was a very simple part but we recorded it a lot of times. As we did it more and more we understood more and more what he was asking for. And so we got closer to his idea.

Gordon Hunt, oboe
Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013), Luca Perasi

The orchestral arrangement was by Carl Davis, who had previously worked with McCartney on the Liverpool Oratorio.

Paul was able to say, ‘I want to add a flute here and there, and this is what I want them to play’. The score was done by me, but very dictated by Paul.
Carl Davis
Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013), Luca Perasi

The orchestral album Working Classical, which featured a version of ‘Golden Earth Girl’, was recorded from 21-25 February 1999 at Abbey Road Studios, London.

Live performance

The only live performance of ‘Golden Earth Girl’ was an orchestral version during the world premiere of Ecce Cor Meum at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 3 November 2006.

The performance of the album was preceded by a selection of McCartney’s other songs: ‘My Love’, ‘Warm And Beautiful’, ‘Calico Skies’, ‘Golden Earth Girl’, ‘Somedays’, and ‘Junk’.

The performers were soprano Kate Royal, the Academy of Martin-in-the-Fields, the boys of Magdalen College Choir and King’s College Choir, and London Voices, all conducted by Gavin Greenaway.

Previous song: ‘Peace In The Neighbourhood’
Next song: ‘The Lovers That Never Were’
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