A nine-second fragment of ‘Suicide’ was included at the end of ‘Hot As Sun/Glasses’ on Paul McCartney’s debut solo album McCartney.


Wineglasses played at random and overdubbed on top of each other – the end is a section of a song called SUICIDE – not yet completed.

Paul McCartney, 1970
McCartney press release

The song is one of McCartney’s earliest, likely dating from 1956 when he was 14 years old. It was written with Frank Sinatra in mind.

I wrote it in bed at that moment when you’re just dropping off and all these things are coming to you, but you ought to go to sleep. I used to keep pencil and paper by my bed, and I’ve got the ability to write in the dark, though some of the lines cross each other. I wrote this song called ‘Suicide’ which was very cabaret, ‘If when she tries to run away and he calls her back she comes … it’s okay, because she’s under both his thumbs …’ all that kind of shit. Very Sinatra, I thought. ‘She’ll limp along to his side … I call it suicide!’ It was murder! Horrible song! But you had to go through all those styles to discover your own. I only had one verse, so I cobbled together another.

And the funny thing was, years and years later, he rang me at Abbey Road studio, and it was a great moment when one of the engineers said, ‘Paul, Sinatra’s on the phone.’ And I was able to go, ‘Oh. I’ll be there in a minute,’ touch a fader and then go off. And everyone would go, ‘Oooooo! Sinatra’s on the phone!’ How many people have that? He was asking for a song, so I found the song, made a demo and sent it to him. Apparently he thought it was an almighty piss-take. ‘No way!’ he’s supposed to have said to one of his people. ‘Is this guy having me on?’ So my career with Sinatra ended in terrible ignominy. I think he couldn’t grasp it was tongue in cheek. It was only supposed to be a play on the word ‘suicide’, not actual physical suicide. If a girl lets a guy trample all over her, she’s committing some sort of suicide. I think he sent the demo back. Looking back on it I’m quite relieved he did, actually, it wasn’t a good song, it was just a teenage thought.

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

‘Suicide’ was briefly played at Apple Studios during the Get Back/Let It Be sessions on 26 January 1969. McCartney played it on the piano, with John Lennon joining in, indicating that he was familiar with the song.

McCartney recorded the song at 7 Cavendish Avenue, his London home, in December 1969 while working on his first solo album.

The McCartney album was reissued in June 2011 as part of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection. The original album was presented with a number of bonus tracks, including the full version of ‘Suicide’.

That was a song I’d had forever, since I was about 16. I had my Dad’s old piano at home, that I used to tinker about on when there was no-one in the house. And my feelings were, then, that if you were ever going to be a songwriter, the height of it all was Sinatra. That would be the greatest stuff that you could do, really a little bit before rock ‘n’ roll, so you were thinking of standards and things. So around that time I wrote ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ and this other thing. I thought it would be a bit of a Rat Pack, smoochy, with words like ‘When she tries to, run away, uh-huh…’ Boom! And stabs from the band, you know. […]

It was a real early song of mine, and I used to do it as a joke, really. […] I actually once got a request from Sinatra, for a song. And I spoke to him on the phone and told him about it, ‘Great, Paul, send it along.’ ‘Thank you, Frank’. And I sent it him and he thought I was taking the piss. ‘Is this guy kidding?’ You know, sending Sinatra a song called ‘Suicide’. He did not get it! But I did think, ‘Oh God, maybe I should have changed it a bit to send it to him.’

So I never did anything with it but around the time of McCartney, I was just goofing around on piano and at the end of one of the takes there was a little bit of tape left, so I just did it and didn’t think to use it because it was Rat Pack, tongue in cheek. But I used that little fragment at the end of one of the tracks, ‘Glasses’.

Paul McCartney
McCartney 2011 reissue press release

McCartney returned to ‘Suicide’ several times after that first recording. In 1974 he taped a piano demo lasting 3:46, a full minute longer than the 1969 version.

He recorded it again during the One Hand Clapping sessions in 1975, although it wasn’t used in the final film.

The following April he sang it briefly a capella during an interview with Alan Freeman, and in March 1977 he recorded the demo that was sent to Sinatra.

McCartney sang it again briefly in 1999 during an appearance on the British TV chat show Parkinson.

Prior to its 2011 release, ‘Suicide’ was copyrighted several times under different titles, including ‘Call It Suicide’ and ‘I Call It Suicide’.

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