‘Rough Ride’ is the second song on Paul McCartney’s eighth solo album Flowers In The Dirt.

In the studio

Work on the album began in October 1987, when Paul McCartney invited producers Trevor Horn and Steve Lipson to Hog Hill Mill to record a song, with the proviso that they do it in a mere two days. The duo were used to spending up to three painstaking months on a single song.

‘Rough Ride’, an unfinished song fragment based on a 12-bar blues structure, was chosen by Horn. True to their promise, the track was recorded and mixed by the end of the second day.

I was going to work with Trevor Horn and Steve Lipson, and I’d heard that Trevor takes a long time… so it seemed to me that it might be a good idea if we could try and limit him to a short period and see what we could get done… I said well I’ve got this crazy little thing that you won’t like, it’s called ‘Rough Ride’. He said I love the title already… it grew from a nothing little 12-bar and by the end of the second day we’d mixed it, which is pretty unheard of these days… they came back with a tarted-up version, and I said well I think it’s a Paul Goes To Hollywood… type of thing, so we kept the original.
Paul McCartney
Club Sandwich, Summer 1989

The trio then recorded a version ‘My Brave Face’, again in two days, followed by ‘How Many People’ and ‘Ou Est Le Soleil?’.

We had such a good experience on ‘Rough Ride’ that he wanted to do it again. There was a lot going on and it caused a little bit of friction at one point because Simple Minds suddenly wanted to be finished and I had to cancel a couple of sessions and put them back a couple of months. I was surprised at the time that ‘Rough Ride’ wasn’t a single. I didn’t think ‘My Brave Face’ was as good as ‘Rough Ride’.
Trevor Horn
SuperDeluxeEdition, March 2017

Lipson used a Yamaha RX5 drum machine, plus a Yamaha TX802 tone generator and Roland MKS-70 synth to create the bass sound.

The other thing I remember about ‘Rough Ride’ was that he only sang it three times and it was mostly the third take. He sang it three times and he came into the control room and I said, ‘The third take was the take’ and Lippo said, ‘Yes, first two weren’t up to much, but the third one was good’. That was the difference between me and Steve, I would never say something like that, I always look for the positive!
SuperDeluxeEdition, March 2017

I had wanted to work with Trevor Horn and Steve Lipson, and this was the first occasion. They came down to my studio and we just cooked this little song up. I liked the feel of it. I thought it had a contemporary feel at the time, and a little bit of urban slick that I liked.

It was a great experience working with them – they’re very thorough. I was showing Trevor the view of the English Channel and the coast outside the window of my studio and saying, ‘Wow, look at that!’ He said, ‘No, there’s the view!’ and he points to the speaker. [laughs] I saw his point. We ended up closing the windows and getting into the music. Steve was great to work with, too. He’s a great engineer and musician. So the two of them together, it was a pleasure.

Paul McCartney
People, 24 March 2017

Live performances

Paul McCartney performed ‘My Brave Face’ throughout his World Tour of 1989-90.

A recording from Paris’s Palais Omnisport De Bercy on 10 October 1989 can be heard on his first solo live album, Tripping The Live Fantastic.

Previous song: ‘My Brave Face’
Next song: ‘You Want Her Too’
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