A good friend of mine died, someone we all loved, so I wrote a song that conveyed my mood. It’s heartfelt – instead of writing her kids a letter I wrote a song. It was a very sad day for all of us, and Jeff Lynne and I gave it our all in the studio.
Club Sandwich, Summer 1997
The video for ‘Little Willow’ was directed by John Schlesinger. It was filmed in September 1997, and premiered in the US on The Oprah Winfrey Show on 14 December.
Even if I’m writing something very specific, I veil it. That’s just my way. It’s the way I’ve developed as a songwriter. You know, if I want to write about loneliness, it’ll be Eleanor Rigby who carries the can. ‘Little Willow’, I know I was very affected by Maureen’s death, and again I remember just going into a room and putting those sentiments into that song. The sort of fragility of life is in that song. But it wasn’t called ‘Maureen’, it was called ‘Little Willow’. I always prefer to conjure up some story or tale or some bit of imagination around something, because then I can get my emotions out but it’s not quite as raw. And I think it makes it a little more available to people if you call it ‘Little Willow’. We’ve all got a Little Willow.
Flaming Pie Archive Collection
‘Little Willow’ was included on the 2016 compilation Pure McCartney, along with seven other songs from Flaming Pie: ‘The Song We Were Singing’, ‘The World Tonight’, ‘Calico Skies’, ‘Flaming Pie’, ‘Souvenir’, ‘Beautiful Night’, and ‘Great Day’.
The song also appeared on the various artists album Diana, Princess Of Wales – Tribute, released on 2 December 1997.
Paul McCartney never performed ‘Little Willow’ live.