‘Off The Ground’ is the title track and opening song from Paul McCartney’s ninth solo studio album.
It was recorded towards the end of the album sessions, with McCartney and Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens playing the bulk of the instruments.
Right at the end of doing the album Wix said to me ‘We’ve worked very naturally on this album but there’s one thing we haven’t tried and that is a computer thing’. And I said ‘Well, I don’t really want to waste a lot of time on it’ and he said ‘You might want to spend a day on it, though, for a change, just to do something a bit different now that we’ve already got most of the album’, so I thought yeah, it might be fun, actually. So we gave the rest of the band a day off, and just me, Wix and the production team went into the control room for the day – that’s where you mainly do computer stuff.
One of the songs that had been on my list but hadn’t got onto the album was ‘Off The Ground’, which at that time was a little folk song. I liked it but it didn’t really fit onto the album so I thought that if we were just going to play around and experiment, maybe even waste a song, we might as well do it with that one. So I brought it in and we started to kick it around. We soon started to get a rhythm track in the computer that changed the song’s direction a bit and made it more exciting. Then I said ‘OK, let me go in and put a little heavy guitar on it’. So we really started enjoying it: we put a bit of machine bass on, which started to make it more funky, then percussion, then I sang on it and it really started to come together as a track. By the end of the day we’d pretty much finished it, with just a few little harmonies and a solo from Robbie still to come.
After I got home that night I happened to be speaking to one of my daughters on the phone and she asked what I’d done that day, and when I said ‘Off The Ground’ she said ‘That’s a great album title!’ and it made me think of it in that way for the first time. So it became the title of the album.
Club Sandwich, Spring 1993
I think since the last tour Paul’s become more aware of technology, even though he still has his original four-track set up at his place in Scotland the way it always has been, quite an antique.
You should have heard the demo. It’s nothing like the album version. I thought, Oh my God, how am I going to do this? And he wanted to build it entirely on the computer. But we bashed ahead, put some drum loops in, the feel changed totally, we messed around, added some Robbie guitar, and it worked out brilliantly. Got it done in a day, basically.
It was nice from my point of view because if you’re not familiar with technology it can seem a hassle, time-consuming and breaking down all the time. Computers are trouble, you know. But technology’s not a problem in music. It’s a matter of how you use it. I use the same technology that The Shamen use. You can plug into a computer and miss the point — but you don’t have to.
New World Tour programme
‘Off The Ground’ was released as a single on 19 April 1993. The 7″ vinyl edition had ‘Cosmically Conscious’ on the b-side.
The single was not a commercial success, and failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, although it did reach 27 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
A promotional video was directed by Matthew Robbins for Industrial Light & Magic. The video featured ‘Soggy Noodle’, a brief acoustic piece, as an introduction.
During the recording of the album, a 27-minute film titled Movin’ On was made in the studio. It was first shown in the UK on Channel 4 on 18 April 1993, and also included footage from the creation of videos for the songs ‘Off The Ground’ and ‘C’mon People’.
Paul McCartney performed ‘Off The Ground’ throughout his New World Tour in 1993, although it was not included on the resulting live album Paul Is Live.