The song was composed while the couple were on holiday in north Africa.
I was in Morocco with Nancy, who’s now my wife, and we were having a nice holiday but it was raining rather a lot. I said, ‘A pity it’s raining’ and she said ‘It doesn’t matter, we can still have a good time.’ And I’m like that, too, I don’t mind at all.
So there was an old piano, slightly out of tune, in the foyer of the hotel. And there was this lovely Irish guy who knew so much old stuff, really deep stuff like ‘Beautiful Dreamer’, ‘If You Were The Only Girl In The World… Again’, stuff from my Dad’s era. I used to enjoy listening to him in the evenings and he put me in mind of that genre.
So one afternoon, when it was raining, I was in that foyer, and without anyone noticing except a couple of waiters who were clearing up, I sat at the piano and started knocking around with this little tune, kind of in the style that I knew he played in: ‘What if it rained? We didn’t care. She said that some day soon the sun was gonna shine…’ And there was my Irish buddy sitting behind me, he’d been listening to me all the time: ‘Ah that’s great!’ A nice little vote of confidence in the song.
‘My Valentine’ featured a guest appearance from Eric Clapton on guitar. Clapton also performed on the Kisses On The Bottom song ‘Get Yourself Another Fool’.
When I played it to Tommy [LiPuma], he said ‘Yeah, I love it, great.’ So we did that one and eventually I had the pleasure of working with Eric [Clapton], who put a lovely acoustic guitar part on. And by the way, I forgot the important ingredient, the day I wrote it was Valentine’s Day, a fairly important fact! It was our first dance, very romantic.
McCartney performed ‘My Valentine’ for his bride at their wedding on 9 October 2011.
Paul performed a special song late in the evening. He had written it especially for ‘his lovely’ Nancy for this day.
It was lovely. She was truly touched and looked as though she shed a tear. I had a lovely time. It was superb. It couldn’t have been more superb or perfect a wedding
In the studio
The basic track for ‘My Valentine’ was recorded at Avatar Studios in New York, with Clapton’s guitar and the orchestra overdubbed at Abbey Road Studios in London. The rhythm arrangement was by Diana Krall.
Clapton’s guitar part was recorded in the same studio where he had played on The Beatles’ ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ in 1968.
When we were recording this track we were in Abbey Road, and I said, ‘Say Eric, the last time we were working here together, was when you were sitting over there playing guitar on George’s song ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’.’ So there was an, I don’t know what, 40 year gap, and only 10 yards physically.
‘My Valentine’ was streamed on the official Paul McCartney website for 24 hours from Monday 19 December 2011. It was subsequently made available on Apple’s iTunes Store ahead of the album’s release.