McCartney wrote ‘Lonely Road’ in Goa in January 2001, while on vacation with Heather Mills. It was McCartney’s first visit to India since the 1960s.
We had such a relaxing start to an Indian holiday which was at the beginning of 2001. It was exciting, I hadn’t been back to India since the Mararishi days, which was 25 years or so ago. It was great to look around a bit more; I’d only seen Rishikesh, north of Delhi, before. We started off in Goa, relaxed beach time, and one afternoon I wrote ‘About You’ on a little travel guitar I’ve got which has it’s own amp in it. I picked some words out for the song after seeing a copy of The India Times which was lying around. ‘Lonely Road’ was also written in Goa, where I was enjoying the beach and the sea and generally chilling out in the new century. Again, I had a few moments in the afternoon, which is always a good time for me, a quiet spell when it’s always cool for me to go off and fondle my guitar. The songs basically wrote itself in about an hour. It is what it is, this song, you can make of it what you want to make of it. To me it’s not particularly about anything other than not wanting to be brought down. It’s a sort of anti-being brought down song, which is for anyone and everyone. It’s ‘don’t want to get brought down again, don’t want to walk that lonely road’, it’s symbolic for anyone who’s been through any sort of problems. It’s a defiant song against loneliness, written in a hotel room in Goa.
paulmccartney.com, November 2001
‘Lonely Road’ was written in India, and that’s a bit… I don’t really know what I’m doing, just blues longing. I say I tried to go somewhere ‘old’, that’s India. ‘To search for my pot of gold’, well I wasn’t, I was on holiday. So it’s half imagination, half reality. If I’m looking for a rhyme for old, and pot of gold comes into my mind, then I don’t resist. ‘I try to go somewhere old cos I no longer need a pot of gold?’ Fuck that. Let’s go somewhere old to search for a pot of gold seems more like a song.
Conversations with McCartney, Paul Du Noyer
It was the second song recorded by McCartney at Henson Studios in Los Angeles in February 2001, during a three-week block of sessions.
‘Lonely Road’ was recorded at Henson Studios in Los Angeles on 16 February 2001, the same day that McCartney recorded ‘About You’ and ‘Riding Into Jaipur’, on the first day of the Driving Rain sessions.
Recorded on 16th February 2001 onto 16-track analogue tape, then loaded into Logic audio for overdubs. Paul played Hofner bass and sang a live vocal some of which was used then overdubbed Martin acoustic, Epiphone electric guitar and another vocal. Abe played drums and overdubbed tambourine. Rusty played Gibson SG electric guitar, then overdubbed Pedal steel guitar and Gibson acoustic guitar, Gabe played Wurlitzer electric piano. David overdubbed Roland Organ.