‘Try Not To Cry’ was one of three original compositions on Paul McCartney’s 1999 album Run Devil Run.

The other new songs were ‘Run Devil Run’ and ‘What It Is’. The rest of the album was made up of cover versions.

I just wrote a bluesy song that never gets in the way of the snare. It was actually that simple.
Paul McCartney
Run Devil Run liner notes

Run Devil Run was McCartney’s first recording project since the death of his first wife Linda. He retreated from the public eye to mourn his loss, and “had a whole year of letting any emotion come sweeping over me. And it did.”

Written on a piano, ‘Try Not To Cry’ was borne of this period, and although McCartney claimed that the lyrics were more free-associative than confessional, it is clear that his emotions were close to the surface.

I didn’t intend to make it sad. When you’re writing a song there are various ways to do it and one of the ways is just to spill out what is coming into your head and the chorus was just that. Sometimes you just look for a sound. If you go ‘eee’ it doesn’t sound too nice when you sing it. But ‘ahhhh’ is better to sing. So words like ‘night’ are really good to sing and words like ‘meeee’ are not. It doesn’t always work but that is a little rule. So I was just going ‘try, try, cry, cry, high, high’ when I was writing it, because songs with those words in them are good to sing. So I wasn’t so much looking for the meaning of the words, rather the sound of those words. And once I had written it I realised it is kind of sad.
Paul McCartney
Run Devil Run Best Buy bonus interview disc

‘Try Not To Cry’ was recorded on the last of seven sessions for the album, on 5 May 1999. Run Devil Run was mostly recorded in March 1999, with two final sessions in May.

Some songs come from, like, an idea. And this one came from a very specific idea. When you’re mixing a record, it’s really good if you can get like, let’s say, a lot of bass drums come through. And sometimes the words go over the bass drum. So you got to favour the words. So you don’t get enough bass drum. So I thought, ah, I know, just as a little exercise, I’ll work, I’ll work out a song, was actually not the bass drum, was the snare drum, I’ll work out a song that avoids the off beat. So it was like, Sometimes, I’m right, sometimes, I’m wrong. Put the song in the gaps. Yeah, so that was like the whole idea of the song and I put some words, you know, filled out all the words.

And the chorus, didn’t bother with that, the chorus just went to a chorus. But that was the whole idea. So consequently, when I came in, all I could tell the guys was, well, it goes like this, you know, you got, I said, I’m sitting there, you know, supposed to be a good songwriter, and I’m saying, I’ve got this song, guys. And I’m thinking, ‘God, they’re just gonna laugh at me’. It goes like this, sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong, how can, I do it, if I don’t know, the song, all day, I try. And I’m looking at them and they’re going, uh-uhm. They’re trying to look interested, you know. ‘This is good, Paul.’ I think, they’re thinking, oooh, tilt, you know, something drastically wrong has happened here. Sometimes I’m right.

But then it worked out, you know. And then, and they all saw what I was trying to do. And they fell in with it and so they laid it with the off beat. So it worked out fine, but it was, was kind of like a little formula. It worked out nice, I’m really pleased with it, actually.

Paul McCartney
Run Devil Run Best Buy bonus interview disc

Previous song: ‘Lonesome Town’
Next song: ‘Movie Magg’
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