The song was written at McCartney’s East Sussex home, on a Martin 12-string acoustic guitar. He and guitarist Robbie McIntosh later worked on the arrangement in the studio.
‘Deliverance’, to me, is a religious word, a biblical word that you hear in church, and I’m glad to be using it in a secular context – in the context of a love song, that’s to say. We want deliverance from all the darkness that surrounds us.
I wrote this song up in the attic of my house to get some peace and quiet to myself. It has a little ladder leading up to a trap door so that once you close it, no one else can reach you. I brought a Martin twelve-string guitar up with me, with a capo on it about halfway up the guitar neck to change the sound. It sounds much more jingly that way, which reminds me of Christmas and churches. Maybe that’s what led me to the idea of hope and deliverance.
‘Hope Of Deliverance’ was recorded at Hog Hill Mill, McCartney’s home studio.
A key ingredient of the song is the calypso-style percussion, which was recorded in an overdub session on 17 July 1992. The players were Davide Giovannini, Dave Pattman, and Maurizio Ravalico.
There’s a lot of imagery of the clouds, darkness, light, torches, candles, and fires. It’s all very primeval. ‘We live in hope of deliverance/From the darkness that surrounds us’ – that can be anything. For a sailor at sea, it literally is darkness of the night and the hope of seeing a lighthouse, but especially for people in the US, it could be political turmoil, because polarisation exists these days, and we’re looking for a way out of that darkness. Romantically, it can mean that you’re not getting on well with your partner, and you need deliverance. You’re thinking one way, and then you’ve suddenly got to change. That change may involve just flicking a little switch in your brain.
‘Hope Of Deliverance’ was issued as a single on 28 December 1992 in the UK and 12 January 1993 in the US. The Off The Ground album followed in February.
The single came out in three formats, each containing non-album tracks. The 7″ vinyl and cassette versions contained ‘Long Leather Coat’, while the CD single contained that song, ‘Big Boys Bickering’, and ‘Kicked Around No More’.
‘Hope Of Deliverance’ was a top 10 hit in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, and Switzerland. It peaked at 18 on the UK singles chart, and fared less well in the USA, reaching 83 on the Billboard Hot 100.
A promotional video for the song was directed by Andy Morahan, and filmed in Ashdown Forest and London’s Black Island Studios in November 1992. There were two edits of the video, known as the ‘stone cross edit’ and the ‘version with stone’.
‘Hope Of Deliverance’ was performed throughout McCartney’s New World Tour in 1993. A recording from the tour can be heard on the album Paul Is Live.
It was resurrected in 2012 during McCartney’s On The Run Tour, and 2013’s Out There Tour.
When I am touring with my band, we actually sing this song in our rehearsals quite often. Normally, we do it without drums, as an acoustic thing, with all of us except Wix Wickens, our keyboard player, and Abe Laboriel, our drummer, who plays an acoustic guitar for this and sings harmony with me. We really enjoy performing it, but it hasn’t made it onto the main set list. Not yet, at any rate.