This arrived when I was reading a book on Lead Belly. I was deep in the South and the blues and I sat at the piano one day and started playing the chords at the beginning of the song. Lead Belly inspired that vocal style – “Well, mama…” – that Southern blues thing. It suited that song. “Hear me, husband and lovers/What we do with our lives…” Then I was off on the trail. So suddenly, “Seems to matter to others”. Hey, let’s think about what we’re handing down to them. As a parent and grandparent, you think that kind of stuff.
Uncut, January 2021
I started singing in a harder voice, a bit more bluesy, and this song popped out: ‘Hear me, women and wives/Hear me, husbands and lovers/What we do with our lives/Seems to matter to others’. It was a ‘teach your children well’ kind of thought, as in that song [‘Teach Your Children’] by Crosby, Still, Nash & Young. It came out very easily, and I was happy with that…
I’m lucky enough to have a nice memory associated with this song. While I was writing it, around the springtime of 2020, my daughter Mary came into the room. She said, ‘Oh, I like that one,’ and then started singing her own take on it. It adds so much if someone says, ‘Oh, I like that one.’ You can’t buy that in a hardware store.
The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) December 21, 2020
On ‘Women And Wives’ Paul used upright bass – Bill Black’s (Elvis’s bass player) upright bass. It’s very famously owned by Paul, he’s had that a long time. It’s a Kay Maestro M-1.
It’s still strung right-handed for Bill Black, Paul just turns it around and plays it the other way round! It’s a lovely sound, it’s 1952 or 53 I think I’ve managed to pin it down to, and Paul’s owned it for 20-25 years. He bought it, I think, from Scotty Moore’s family.