Band On The Run album artwork - Paul McCartney & WingsWritten by: McCartney
Recorded: August-November 1973
Producer: Paul McCartney

Released: 30 November 1973 (UK), 3 December 1973 (US)

Paul McCartney: vocals, guitar, bass guitar, drums
Linda McCartney: backing vocals, keyboards
Denny Laine: backing vocals, guitar
Howie Casey: saxophone

Available on:
Band On The Run

The first single to be released from the Band On The Run album, Jet was - like The Beatles' Martha My Dear - named after one of Paul McCartney's dogs.

Jet (Remastered) - Band On the Run (Remastered)

We've got a Labrador puppy who is a runt, the runt of a litter. We bought her along a roadside in a little pet shop, out in the country one day. She was a bit of a wild dog, a wild girl who wouldn't stay in. We have a big wall around our house in London, and she wouldn't stay in, she always used to jump the wall. She'd go out on the town for the evening, like Lady And The Tramp. She must have met up with some big black Labrador or something. She came back one day pregnant. She proceeded to walk into the garage and have this litter... Seven little black puppies, perfect little black Labradors, and she's not black, she's tan. So we worked out it must have been a black Labrador. What we do is if either of the dogs we have has a litter, we try to keep them for the puppy stage, so we get the best bit of them, and then when they get a bit unmanageable we ask people if they want to have a puppy. So Jet was one of the puppies. We give them all names. We've had some great names, there was one puppy called Golden Molasses. I rather like that. Then there was one called Brown Megs, named after a Capitol executive. They've all gone now. The people change the names if they don't like them.
Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney In His Own Words, Paul Gambaccini

Despite the initial inspiration, the words of Jet were mostly chosen to fit the melody rather than for their meaning. The reference to the 'lady suffragette' was a motif that appealed to McCartney, without having any wider significance.

I make up so much stuff. It means something to me when I do it, and it mean's something to the record buyer, but if I'm asked to analyze it I can't really explain what it is. 'Suffragette' was crazy enough to work. It sounded silly, so I liked it.
Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney In His Own Words, Paul Gambaccini

Jet was written at McCartney's Scottish home in the summer of 1973. It was recorded at George Martin's AIR Studios in London, after Wings returned from Lagos, Nigeria.

The recording featured Howie Casey on saxophone. Casey was formerly a member of Derry And The Seniors, a Liverpool group who were contemporaries of The Beatles in the Cavern Club years. He also appeared on the Band On The Run songs Bluebird and Mrs Vandebilt.

The refrain from Jet reappears later on the Band On The Run album, as a mostly instrumental passage on the song Picasso's Last Words (Drink To Me).

Just the idea of his different periods, this comes back in, it's all a big muddle. We were just making it up as we went along. We didn't have any big concept of it in mind at all. I just thought, we'll mess it up, keep messing it up until it sounds good, like Picasso did, with the instinctive knowledge you've got. So that's how that one came about.
Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney In His Own Words, Paul Gambaccini

The release

Paul McCartney initially wanted no singles to be taken from Band On The Run. However, radio plugger Al Coury persuaded him that Jet would work well.

The companies here and in America, worldwide, would like a single on the album. It makes more sense merchandising-wise. But sometimes, I just have to remember that this isn't a record store I'm running; this is supposed to be some kind of art. And if it doesn't fit in, it doesn't fit in.
Paul McCartney, 1973

At its original length of over four minutes, Jet was too long to be played on the radio, so McCartney grudgingly allowed Capitol Records to create an edit. This was issued as a mono promotional single with four sections removed, bringing the total length to 2'49.

Jet was issued in the US on 28 January 1974, with the Band On The Run song Mamunia as its b-side. However, this was withdrawn after three weeks on sale, and was replaced on 18 February with a new edition with Let Me Roll It on the flipside.

Jet was a chart-topper in the US. It fared less well in the United Kingdom, peaking at number seven after its release on 18 February 1974.

As with the second US version, its b-side was Let Me Roll It. The single spent nine weeks on the chart, and was certified gold by the BPI on 1 April 1974.

6 responses on “Jet

  1. Gerald

    Helen Wheels was the first single to be released on the Band on the run album. Then Al Coury persuaded Paul that he had released the wrong single. DJ’s were already playing a short version of Jet in some areas. This is told by Paul McCartney on the second CD in the 2-CD release of Band on Thr Run.

    1. Joe Post author

      Helen Wheels was released as a standalone single before Band On The Run came out, but was included on the US edition (and probably some others). It wasn’t on the UK version at all, though – only as a bonus track on reissued. Jet was the first single to be taken from the album.

  2. bk

    This song is about Paul loosing John to Yoko, a song about a life long friendship coming to an end via a person Paul regarded as controlling.

    First stanza describes the moment John (Jet) announced he was going to marry Yoko, and how lonely that made Paul feel for John.

    Second stanza he’s digging into John for not standing up for himself and how he regards Yoko as a militaristic b*tch.

    Chorus is Paul’s emotional expression of his loss, to his late mother and an indication of the time that would pass without a repair of the friendship.

    Last Stanza Paul is recounting their past travels through life together and asking John to revisit this time again.

  3. Dave

    I’d say the song definitely alludes to The Beatles – Sergeant Major, lonely place, and Major sound like they’re from Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and ‘climb on the back and let’s go for a ride in the sky’ sounds like, “let’s just rise above all this stuff that’s currently going on in the world and create some tunes for the ages”. I think, though, that the marriage announcement, remembering funny faces, and ‘you’re hardly old enough yet’ are more about reminiscing about the days of John’s first marriage and the ‘Major’ is Yoko oohwooOooOoowoOoo (Ono) and John becoming her subservient soldier fighting for this cause and that on her command. Wind of a thousand LACES? I’m sure it was originally FACES, but that would have been too obviously about crowds of strangers that are fans screaming and creating a wind back at The Lonely Hearts Club Band. The chorus would then mean, “don’t hate me for saying all this, I just want you back”.

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