‘On My Way To Work’ is the third song on Paul McCartney’s 16th solo studio album New.

That’s all remembrances from Liverpool. The bus, top deck, me going to work… The specific work I was thinking of was my first job, as a second man on a lorry. The second man helps the driver unload when you get to the destination; the driver is the first man. He was very nice, my first man, because I was always knackered, and he would let me sleep. I would help load up the lorry, then get in and just sleep until we got half an hour from the destination, when he’d wake me up: ‘Oi, look lively!’

So, that was one of my jobs. I was also a coil winder in a factory. But there was always the bus involved to get there, you know; nobody had a car. Big green buses, always the upper deck, for a ciggie, getting to work, clocking on…

Paul McCartney

This is a thing I always thought when I was young: ‘How on earth am I going to meet the right person with these billions of people teeming about the planet? How could a soul search everywhere, without knowing what to do? How am I going to run into the right one?’ It was very much a teenage worry for me. The other was, ‘What job am I going to have?’ I could see no future on the delivery truck or working as a coil winder in a factory (another job of mine), or going into the cotton trade like my dad had done.

I see kids nowadays with those same worries, and they’re very real worries, very much like the ones I described when I wrote this song. ‘On my way to work/I bought a magazine/Inside a pretty girl/Liked to waterski/She came from Chichester’. I was very happy to get that detail in. I would sometimes do that on my way to Speedy Prompt Deliveries. I could get nudie magazines, now that I was a working man and I was actually allowed to buy them! And besides them, a few years later The Sun newspaper started doing this sort of thing on page 3: ‘Jeanette is from Hayling Island. Her hobbies include…’ I loved those biographical details, it’s a nice little bit of background – fills the story out.

McCartney took the title ‘On My Way To Work’ from an artwork by Damien Hirst.

Sometimes what’s a great help in writing a song is an interesting title, because now you know what the novel is going to be called. And now you can start working. I did Live And Let Die, I had to work back from that title. I was going to John’s house one day with the Beatles and I asked the driver had he been busy and he said ‘I have been working eight days a week.’ So we then had that title. In the case of this new song I was flicking through an art catalogue and I saw a work by Damien Hirst, the young British artist. I saw one of his pictures and I looked for the title. It said ‘On My Way To Work’. And that intrigued me, I thought that’s a great title. It’s very mundane, but it says a lot. And everyone is going to be able to identify cause everyone is often on their way to work.

So I thought what does that mean to me? The jobs I had before the Beatles would involve getting up early in the morning and going on a bus and the kind of buses we had were green double-deckers. So I started there on that journey and then just other memories came flooding in…

I was playing this to a friend of mine, I know Johnny Depp quite well, I was playing this to him and another friend – Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters as these guys were listening to some early playbacks. And Johnny is listening to this and says ‘I’m glad you got Chichester in there’. And I was very glad myself because it’s a nice rhythm and it’s kind of a funny town, there’s a little bit of humour in it ‘She came from Chichester to study history, she had removed her clothes for the likes of me.’

Paul McCartney
NPR World Cafe

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Next song: ‘Queenie Eye’
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