‘(I Want To) Come Home’ was written and recorded by Paul McCartney for the 2009 film Everybody’s Fine.
McCartney was contacted by the film’s director, Kirk Jones, to see if he would contribute a song for the soundtrack. McCartney accepted the challenge after seeing an advance screening which featured Aretha Franklin’s cover of ‘Let It Be’ as a temporary placeholder.
I was just asked, through my office, if I wanted to do a song at the end of a new film that was coming out. That was starring Robert De Niro. And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m interested’. So it’s really the same old story, it was a phone call. When I was shown the film, originally, it was in a little viewing theatre in Soho. And I was kind of on my own. And so I was just watching the film, enjoying it. And thinking ‘Oh, if I’m going to do a song, what might it be?’ Not really getting ideas, but just getting an atmosphere. And they’d laid in ‘Let It Be’, unbeknown to me, sung by Aretha Franklin. So I’m going ‘ah okay, yeah, this would be really easy, I can write another ‘Let It Be’, and I can sing like Aretha Franklin, thank you director, throwing me such a curveball’. And I thought, well, there’s no way I can do that.
So I left the viewing theatre, thinking it was a nice film by but I’d probably get to pass on this. But later that evening, I got a little idea. So I put down a little bit of an idea, and it grew from there. And I thought I can do something. I try and do music and lyrics together. Normally, I have a kind of rough idea of what might work. And the original song was a little bit different. But I found a little bit in the middle of it, which was sort of ‘for too long, I was out of my home’. And so that sounded like the start of a song. And so I started to work around that… ‘For so long, I was out in the cold’. So that’s where it started. And then I just developed it from that words and music. But that little beginning of the verse was what led me forward. So I thought, ‘okay, now I sort of know what I’m doing’. And then I finished it. And I thought, you know what, this could work.
Everybody’s Fine special features
The song was written from the perspective of Robert De Niro’s character, Frank Goode, a recently widowed retiree, who goes on a cross-country road trip after his adult children each cancel a planned visit.
The De Niro character inspired me. I can very much relate to a guy who’s got older children, who happens to have lost his wife, the mother of those children, and is trying to get them all together at Christmas. I understand that. When your kids grow up and have families of their own and inevitably turn to you and say, ‘Do you mind? We’d like to have our own little family Christmas,’ it’s a difficult thing. It’s a big turning point. Like in the movie, you work around it.
USA Today, 2 December 2009
‘(I Want To) Come Home’ was recorded in the June 2009 at McCartney’s Hog Hill Studio. He subsequently collaborated with composer Dario Marianelli on the orchestration, with string overdubs added at London’s AIR Studios on 6 July.
The song was released on 1 March 2010 as a digital download. It did not chart, but was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
Although it was omitted from the film’s soundtrack album, ‘(I Want To) Come Home’ was included in The 7″ Singles Box in 2022, along with McCartney’s demo.
Paul McCartney first performed ‘(I Want To) Come Home’ live in Hamburg on 2 December 2009. It was played at a number of subsequent shows in the the Good Evening Europe Tour.
The song returned to McCartney’s set for the Up And Coming Tour in 2010. It was also performed during many of that tour’s soundchecks, and occasionally for those of the On The Run Tour in 2011 and 2012.