‘Midnight Special’ was first published in 1923, making it the oldest composition on the album.
It has great memories for me of John and I trying to write a bluesy freight-train song. There were a lot of those songs at the time, like ‘Midnight Special’, ‘Freight Train’, ‘Rock Island Line’, so this was the ‘One After 909’; she didn’t get the 909, she got the one after it! It was a tribute to British Rail, actually. No, at the time we weren’t thinking British, it was much more the Super Chief from Omaha.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
The bulk of the recordings that appeared on Choba B CCCP were made at McCartney’s Hog Hill Mill studio on 20 July 1987. At least 12 known songs were taped that day: ‘Kansas City’, ‘Twenty Flight Rock’, ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’, ‘I’m In Love Again’, ‘Bring It On Home To Me’, ‘Lucille’, ‘I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday’, ‘That’s All Right (Mama)’, ‘Summertime’, ‘Just Because’, ‘Midnight Special’, and ‘It’s Now Or Never’.
The recording of ‘Midnight Special’ was, along with ‘Kansas City’, ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’, and ‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’, one of several golden oldies released as b-sides of the ‘Once Upon A Long Ago’ 12″ and CD singles in 1987.
The following year it was released in the Soviet Union on Choba B CCCP, which was given an international release three years later.
McCartney performed ‘Midnight Special’ on MTV Unplugged on 25 January 1991. It was not included on Unplugged (The Official Bootleg), but was eventually released as a bonus track on 1993’s Off The Ground – The Complete Works.
The song made sporadic subsequent appearances during McCartney’s live sets, mainly during soundchecks but occasionally as part of his main performances.