‘People Want Peace’ is the eighth track on Paul McCartney’s 17th solo studio album Egypt Station.
The song was partly inspired by McCartney’s experience of performing in Israel on 26 September 2008, and of visiting Palestine during the trip.
We’d played a gig in Israel quite a few years ago, and I wanted to go to Palestine before I went to Israel, because I was very aware of the political situation there. So I didn’t want to just look like I was ignoring Palestine by playing in Israel, although that was where the date was, the gig.
So I made arrangements to go into Palestine, across the border, and go to a little music school and shake hands with the kids, and hang out and listen to them playing some music. Just to show solidarity with the Palestinian people.
And then when I came back into Israel I then met with some cool people from a group called One Voice, a political group, kind of thing, a movement. And we ended up wearing their badges on our show in Tel Aviv.
So the whole idea was a peace mission, really. ’cause these kids were great. I say kids; they were kind of young adults. And I’d say to them, ‘What is it? What do you want to do, you know?’ They’d say: ‘All we want to do is just live in peace, raise our families, you know, and be able to just get on with our lives in peace.’
And so that tied in with something that, when I was a kid I’d asked my dad and said – you know, we’re seeing all the wars and stuff, on the newspapers, on the TV and stuff – I’d said to him: ‘What is it? You know, do people want peace, or do they just like to fight?’ And he sort of looked at me, very quietly said: ‘No, no son, people want peace. It’s the politicians and the leaders who get into wars. It’s not the people.’ So that always struck me as a great phrase.
They said ‘You can’t go’ [to Israel]. The trouble is, when you say that to me, it makes me wanna go. I don’t like being told what to do.
It was something my dad had said when I was a kid. He’d he say, ‘The people want peace, it’s the politicians who mess it up.’ And that’s held pretty true.
Mojo, October 2018