A massively optimistic song, talking about the time it takes to repair this brave old world, because it really is a brave old world. It’s this idea, this crazy Live Aid, Beatles thing, that we can do something, we can contribute. People say, ‘No you can’t, you’re just pop people.’ But you look at Bangladesh, ‘Give Peace a Chance’, you look at Live Aid, and way beyond that, and there is a power that is indisputable. Even if you want to dispute it, and many people will. People have said to me, ‘Do you really think music can change the world?’ I said, Yeah. Cos you bloody know it can. On a heart level it certainly can, but even on a political level. We can change things. All the people listening to this record can do something, and me and my girl can do something and you and your girl or your fella can do something. There’s something that can be done about this brave old world.
Conversations with McCartney, Paul Du Noyer
It started as a piano thing… It’s a little two part piano thing. The right hand is doing the melody a bit and then the bass has got a definite part instead of just vamping away so it was just like a little mathematical problem trying to work out how I could do this and I just started singing it, [sings] ‘Gave my promise to you, girl. I don’t wanna take it back.’ And then it kind of went like a Motown thing, I could hear tambourines and chooka, chooka, chooka, chooka, I could hear the Motown guys, the Funk Brothers putting a backing track to that.
‘You and me, side by side, we know how to save the world.’ Actually, originally, it wasn’t, that was slightly less positive. I can’t remember what it was, but it wasn’t, ‘we know how to save the world.’ Anyway, so it just developed, went through that little Motowny thing. [sings] ‘That is why I gave my promise to you girl,’ second verse, diddly, diddly der. Then I had this other little bit that is on the front of it, [sings] ‘Looking through the backyard of my life, Time to sweep the fallen leaves away, Gave my promise to you girl.’ And that ends it as well.
It’s really two little songs put together and then when we came to do it in the studio it was multi-layered because it was just me so I think I started off with the piano and then put a bass on it, put a bit of drums on it and then Nigel [Godrich] started encouraging me to play some guitar licks and things, so that was quite complicated, all a lot of little bits, but I think it sounds like a band in the end.
Chaos And Creation In The Backyard interview, July 2005
Paul McCartney never performed ‘Promise To You Girl’ live.