‘However Absurd’ is the tenth track on Paul McCartney’s sixth solo album Press To Play, and the closing song on the vinyl and cassette editions.

I like ‘art’ films, Buñuel, Bergman, The Seventh Seal. I could never make out what the hell they were about, but there was something attractive about the abstractness of them. So I’ve gone that way on ‘Talk More Talk’ and ‘However Absurd’, which are the two main surrealist lyrics.
Paul McCartney
Sound On Sound, October 1986

Although ‘However Absurd’ was the last song on the Press To Play LP and tape, the compact disc edition contained three additional tracks: ‘Write Away’, ‘It’s Not True’, and ‘Tough On A Tightrope’.

It did suggest the epic finale – which is why it’s at the end of the album! For me, it was another thing you start off and think ‘Ooh no, that’s too Beatley, so I won’t do it’. So I resisted it for a while, but I kept coming back to ‘Why? Tell me one good reason why you’re resisting this Beatles influence?’ Cos if anyone’s got a right to do it, there’s three guys alive who’ve got the right to do it. I’ve got past the point of comparisons with The Beatles, or being accused of being a ‘Beatle Stylist’, but I mean, I was involved in all that stuff very heavily, and realising it was a good system then, why ignore it now?

There’s a sort of ‘Walrus’ intro to this track, but of course any time you play that style on piano it evokes that. It’s a style I know and love. The lyrics on this song are a bit bizarre, but then again they make a kind of sense, a strange kind of sense. But then I find that things in life don’t always make sense, they’re not always conveniently wrapped up with a little sticker that says ‘This is very sensible!’ Sometimes they are completely absurd, which is what the song is about. In the middle section it explains itself a bit, less surrealist: ‘Something special between us… Words wouldn’t get my feelings through… However absurd it may seem.’ That’s taking off into The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran – there’s a line of his that always used to attract me and John, which was ‘Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it just to reach you’. So it’s that kind of meaning to ‘However Absurd’.

Paul McCartney
Sound On Sound, October 1986

The orchestral arrangement was by Anne Dudley of Art Of Noise.

The first time I worked with Paul McCartney I played synthesizer on ‘No More Lonely Nights’. Later on he asked me to arrange a couple of tracks on Press To Play. I was very nervous. It’s difficult for someone like him to get through the living legend business but he’s used to it and makes it very easy for you.

Basically he told me to do what I wanted to do. On one song, ‘However Absurd’, at Abbey Road the lyrics were very peculiar and the point of the string arrangement was to sound surrealistic?–?so what happens is the orchestra bursts out and plays a little symphony at the end for no apparent reason. Some of the orchestra had worked on Abbey Road and Sgt Pepper so they’d done the chaotic bit on ‘A Day In The Life’.

Anne Dudley
Q magazine, January 1989

Paul McCartney’s mixing notes for However Absurd

Previous song: ‘Angry’
Next song: ‘Write Away’
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