‘Winter Bird/When Winter Comes’ is the final track on McCartney III, Paul McCartney’s 18th solo album.


There’s nothing on that track – it’s just me – but I made a track called ‘Calico Skies’ a while ago [for the 1997 album Flaming Pie], which George [Martin] produced. And at the same time, because I was in the studio and had an extra minute or so, I had this other song, so I said, ‘let me knock this one off.’ That was ‘When Winter Comes’, and I mention George because it was on a George Martin produced session, but is just me on the guitar. It was nearly going to be a bonus extra that was going to be on a reissue of Flaming Pie, but I’d just been reading that great book on Elvis, Last Train To Memphis, and it mentioned a song and said you’ve probably never heard it because it was buried as a bonus on the B-side of an album. So I thought, no, I’d rather have this one as a proper track. And we finished the album with it because it was the reason for doing the whole thing, because me and my mate Geoff Dunbar, who’s an animation director, were talking about making an animated film to that song. So that’s where the opening and closing tracks come from, which got me into the studio in the first place.
Paul McCartney


In late 2020 McCartney said that ‘Winter Bird/When Winter Comes’ was inspired by the months in the early 1970s when he retreated to his farm in Scotland to escape from the soured business at Apple.

It’s me, remembering that period and writing a song from the point of view of that man, making a home for his family in the countryside. That’s what I used to do. Paint the roof, fix the drains, fix the fence, whatever. I know a lot of people these days are getting into that. It’s very satisfying. In my case, the horror was how heavy The Beatles’ situation had become, but for a lot of people these days it’s the horror of what’s going on with the world – particularly this year with Covid. I just want to plant some vegetables for my family and see them grow. I got very ambitious [in 1970]. I made a kitchen table. I’m incredibly proud of it.
Paul McCartney
Uncut, January 2021


An animated video for ‘Winter Bird/When Winter Comes’ was uploaded to YouTube on 22 December 2020. Directed by Geoff Dunbar, it also featured an instrumental piece titled ‘Winter Sun’.

I rediscovered this song [‘When Winter Comes’] in 2019 when I was listening to old demos for the Flaming Pie archive release. It felt special, so I pulled it out and worked on it for a short video of the song at my recording studio in the first pandemic-related UK lockdown of 2020. It actually ended up inspiring what became the McCartney III album.

Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for When Winter Comes

Previous song: ‘Deep Down’
Next album: McCartney III Imagined
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