Lasting 10:31, the experimental track is the longest in McCartney’s entire catalogue of releases.
This was the album where I felt like the nutty professor in his laboratory. Some of the tracks, there’s one in particular, ‘Secret Friend’, and another one, ‘Blue Sway’, that go on for like 10 minutes. I just got into it. Now, that’s all very well when you’re doing your first take. But then you’ve got to put a cow-bell on it and I would sit there in real time and put a cow-bell on for 10 minutes, occasionally glancing at my watch, and I’ve got five more to go: dink-dink, dinka dink-dink… Your thoughts come swimming in: ‘Are you kidding me? You’re really gonna stand here and do this? Why don’t you just do the cowbell on that bit? No, I’ll mix it out later,’ which of course you never do. “Right! Now we’ll do maracas!” Ch-ch-ch-ch, looking at the watch again.
McCartney II Archive Collection, 2011
‘Temporary Secretary’ was issued on 15 September 1980 as a 12″ single in the UK, with ‘Secret Friend’ on the b-side.
Limited to 25,000 copies, the single was released as Parlophone 12 R 6039 on 15 September 1980, and sold out in just 16 hours.
It’s very dismissable: ‘A ten-minute track, called ‘Secret Friend’? Leave it out! It’s not ‘Hey Jude’. So shut up.’ Well, it isn’t ‘Hey Jude’ but I knew what I was doing. I wasn’t trying to write ‘Hey Jude’. It’s like Picasso – dare I compare myself? Ha! No, you daren’t! But whenever he got a groove going, his Blue Period or his Cubist Period, he kicked it over. He never did any more, and the people would go, ‘I loved your Blue Period.’ ‘Yeah, well, I’m fed up with that, I’m doing cubist now.’
That’s a bit how I feel. It’s difficult to admit, but some of those songs, I’ve written them purposefully avoiding writing hits. Which is very strange. People hear that and go, ‘Why did you do that?’ It’s because I think of myself a bit more as an artist. It’s a strange period I went through. I wanted to spew this idea on a tape.
Conversations With McCartney, Paul Du Noyer
A previously-unreleased 7″ Single Edit of ‘Secret Friend’ was included in the 2022 box set The 7″ Singles Box.