‘Motor Of Love’ is the twelfth song on Paul McCartney’s eighth solo album Flowers In The Dirt.

We made a version I wasn’t too happy with, but I liked the song. It was gonna get dumped off the album. So I said why don’t we give it to some independent people, get some objectivity? I think it’s a good song and it might get back as a contender. I’d liked Chris Hughes and Ross Cullum’s work with Tears For Fears, and they worked up a more modern, hi-tech version.

‘Heavenly Father’ is like an old trick for me, it’s like ‘Mother Mary’. I have a father who’s no longer with us, but I realised the moment you say ‘Heavenly Father’ or ‘Mother Mary’ there’s also that connotation. I like a bit of God though, nothing wrong with that.

Paul McCartney
Club Sandwich, Summer 1989

‘Motor Of Love’ was the final song on the vinyl edition of Flowers In The Dirt The compact disc and cassette versions contained the bonus track ‘Ou Est Le Soleil?’.

McCartney recorded a demo of ‘Motor Of Love’ in August 1988. It featured vocals, electric piano and some percussion, but McCartney was unhappy with the direction.

The final version was co-produced by McCartney, Chris Hughes, and Ross Cullum. It was recorded at Hog Hill Mill on 12 January 1989.

When he was trying to get Flowers In The Dirt finished, and he’d been working with Elvis [Costello] and various other people, there was a track, ‘Motor Of Love’, a track that he’d half started and liked but didn’t have much time, wasn’t sure it was any good, etc, and his manager at the time was a good mate of my manager. They obviously had a discussion, and Paul said, ‘oh yes, I’ve met him, yes, he’s a nice guy, maybe we could do something…

He sent over the tapes of ‘Motor Of Love’, and back in the day it was two-inch tapes. It was basically ‘have a little listen to this, and see what you think’. I went to a studio in Fulham, I listened to the track, and I instantly thought, well it’s unfinished as a piece of writing. There’s no middle eight. It was somewhere between a demo and a master. But I made a copy of the tape and basically cut it at a certain point and put 12 bars of just time, just a little drum box in time, and glued it back together.

He came over to the studio, and this is the amazing thing… I said, ‘forgive me, but I think there is a middle eight missing here, it just feels incomplete. I’ve put a landing strip of 12 bars blank in the track, and wondered if you just wanted to try something out.’ This was astounding. We plugged in a little electric keyboard, and he said, ‘OK, run it down’. We ran down the track, and literally, as it got to the blank bit, he started playing, and humming, and played it and finished it and rounded it off into the track. It was astounding, it was one take. Literally the second take, the second pass, he’d written it with the tune, and ten minutes, quarter of an hour later, he said, these could be the words. Honestly, it was astounding watching him create from absolute scratch and putting it in the track. That was for me, amazing. Anyway, he quite liked the fact it had gone well. Then we went down to his place, the Windmill, and started recording for real.

At that time, I had a Fairlight. So I was sitting there in the room with a Fairlight. He was funny, he was like, ‘oh, you’re going to quantize everything.’ That was his kind of… because computers were coming in. He goes, ‘well, we used to just play’. I was like, ‘play away, but it’s the style and nature of things; I think it should be quite tight’ and at the time, modern. That’s how it started, and he smiled and went along with it.

Chris Hughes
SuperDeluxeEdition, March 2017

‘Motor Of Love’ was one of the final tracks recorded for the album. McCartney, Hughes, and Cullum worked on the song and reworked ‘Figure Of Eight’ for release as a single.

‘Motor Of Love’, even in its demo version, was alluding to being quite lush. It was slow and it was this slushy, lush ballad-y thing he was trying to get. We did layers and layers of Linda and samples and God knows what, as one did at that time. I listened to it the other day and I thought, fucking hell it’s so much of its time. That little place where there were string pads and synths and Fairlights and snare drums that went on for days, and snare drums being too loud. I think he was quite enjoying the nature of it sounding a little less like him and sounding a bit like some records that sound like that. The two or three things that are typical of him are the chord progressions [which] are Macca-y and his bass playing, as you’d expect.

The total time I spent with him at all was about three months, on and off. That was the window, and that included both tracks and other things. He went off to the Caribbean at the tail end of it, and was phoning me up and saying, ‘I’ve got a running order, what do you think, I’ll send it to you’. I changed the running order and said, ‘I really think side one should end this way, and it then leads around…’, and he was really great at the idea that there was some kind of artistry in the decision making. It wasn’t just a bunch of songs he would stuff in a bag and put out. So he was great with all that. I went up to Abbey Road and attended the cut. He would phone up and say, how’s it going, and all that kind of stuff. The whole thing was very relaxed.

Chris Hughes
SuperDeluxeEdition, March 2017

Paul McCartney never performed ‘Motor Of Love’ live in concert.

Previous song: ‘How Many People’
Next song: ‘Ou Est Le Soleil?’
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