The song was written in memory of McCartney’s first wife Linda.
This is about meeting Linda – ‘it must have been magic the night that we met’. I met Linda in a club and I always thought years after, particularly after she died, that if I hadn’t stood up that night in a club we might never have met again. It was something I never normally did; I wouldn’t normally stand up as someone was about to leave and say ‘Er, excuse me, hello…’ I didn’t do that. It was a bit embarrassing for a young guy to do that. I didn’t normally do that but it was just one of those things that I felt I just had to do that night – ‘Hi, um, I’m Paul, who are you?’ And she sort of smiled and said ‘Linda’. I said ‘Er, we’re going onto another club. Are you going home? Shall we meet up at this other club?’ We were in the Bag O’Nails and we said we’d meet up in the Speakeasy. Which we did. So ‘Magic’ is a song about that; it must have been some sort of magic that made me do that. Because if I hadn’t done that I might not have met her again.
paulmccartney.com, November 2001
‘Magic’ was recorded by McCartney at Henson Studios in Los Angeles on 25 February 2001, the same day he recorded ‘Tiny Bubble’.
Recorded 25th February 2001 onto 16-track analogue tape then loaded into Logic Audio for overdubs. Paul played Epiphone electric guitar then overdubbed Hofner Bass, Martin acoustic guitar and the vocal. Abe played Paul’s Ludwig drum kit. Rusty Gibson SG electric guitar and then overdubbed Martin acoustic guitar. Gabe played Fender Rhodes. David overdubbed a synth.
McCartney never performed ‘Magic’ live in concert.
I used to say to the kids… If I hadn’t stood up when she was leaving, sort of said [with nervous cough] ‘Hello’ – cos I never did that, trying to pull birds, I never really did that – I just stood up and said, ‘Hi, I’m Paul, what’s your name? Er, d’you want to come to another club?’ And fortunately for me she said, ‘Yeah, OK’. We went on to the Speakeasy, from the Bag O’Nails.
I always told my kids: ‘If I hadn’t got up and said that, I wonder what would have happened? You wouldn’t be here, probably.’ She may have just disappeared into the night. It was one of those pivotal moments. ‘If I hadn’t done that…’ Like if you hadn’t met that guy on the corner by the pub you wouldn’t have started Mojo. Or whatever. There’s always those little amazing moments. If I hadn’t got the bus with George, he might never have been in the Beatles. If I hadn’t known Ivan Vaughan and he hadn’t taken me to Woolton Village Fête, I wouldn’t have met John. All these things.
Conversations with McCartney, Paul Du Noyer