It is one of two songs on the album co-written by McCartney and Elvis Costello, the other being ‘The Lovers That Never Were’.
That one’s a little complicated. Paul and Carl Davis took tapes of my guitar and Robbie’s guitar and wrote horn arrangements around the lines we were playing – and it really works because it’s a matter of embellishing what’s already there.
New World Tour programme
According to the winter 1995 issue of McCartney’s Club Sandwich magazine, the song was inspired by Vermeer’s painting Mistress And Maid (c. 1667).
A brass, woodwind, and strings arrangement was written by Carl Davis, with whom McCartney had collaborated on 1991’s Liverpool Oratorio.
The fifteen session musicians were recorded during an overdub session at the Hit Factory on London’s Whitfield Street.
This was really reversing our relationship, because Paul had a very clear idea of what he wanted, the song was already written and recorded. For me, it was simply a job. He said to me, ‘I would like to have this brass ensemble and I’ll tell you exactly what I want it to be’. He came not to me as a composer.
Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013), Luca Perasi
McCartney only performed ‘Mistress And Maid’ once in public. On 23 March 1995 he and Costello played a 14-song set together at the Royal Academy of Music in London.