The Story Behind The Song: ‘Another Day’, Paul McCartney’s debut solo single, turns 50
The Beatles had been on the verge of splitting up for nearly two years when the Fab Four decided to head in four separate directions. While John Lennon had been ready to leave since the year prior to their 1970 disbandment, George Harrison had been chomping at the bit for a little more spotlight and Ringo Starr was just happy to be making music and money. But it was perhaps Paul McCartney who took the band’s break-up the hardest.
The songwriter had been the driving force behind the group and had acted, largely, as their leader in the latter part of their career. Now, there was a mutiny on the Good Ship Beatle and the stormy skies ahead seemed like they could wreck everyone’s career. However, you can never keep a good artist down for too long and McCartney soon threw off the shackles of being one-quarter of the biggest band in the world and worked hard to pursue his own singular voice. Though debut album McCartney had seen the songwriter break out of the shadow of The Beatles, it would be his album Ram that cemented that position. His first solo effort, ‘Another Day’, shows just how far he’d come.
Of course, being in a band as big as The Beatles is quite difficult to escape from. Even today, 50 years on from the release of his first single, McCartney is continuously asked about the intricacies of being in the Fab Four. In truth, like much of McCartney and a few choice cuts from Ram, ‘Another Day’ was actually conceived while Macca was still in the band. Written in early 1969, the song first emerged during the Let It Be/Get Back sessions which would nearly prove to be fatal for the band. Perhaps because of the sessions’ tension, the song was shelved as The Beatles tried to regroup.
The track could have easily fit into a Beatles record, however. Built around a similar piano then guitar structure, McCartney’s foundations for the songs, like many of his Fab Four efforts, were rooted in his own imagination. Creating fictional characters for his songs has been a Paul McCartney party trick for some time, with ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘For No One’ being prime examples.
‘Another Day’ again drew on Macca’s creative mind to tell the story of a woman living on her own and locked into a mundane daily routine that drains the colour of the city around her. She works all day and comes home to an empty home, instead manifesting “the man of her dreams” who helps to “break the spell.” Denny Seiwell, the drummer on the session, perhaps most accurately describes the song as: “Eleanor Rigby in New York.”
While the track relied heavily on motifs of the past, the songwriting credits were a brand new thing. Credited to “Mr and Mrs McCartney,” the tracks were a bone of contention for the label executives looking to cash in. Lew Grade, the new head of Northern Songs since 1969, saw this development as a deliberate attempt to grab more of the publishing royalties. John Lennon had similarly co-credited Yoko Ono on some of his releases, and his old pal clearly inspired Macca.
“Lew Grade suddenly saw his songwriting concessions,” recalled McCartney, “Which he’s just paid an awful lot of money for, virtually to get hold of John and I – he suddenly saw that I was now claiming that I was writing half of my stuff with Linda, and that if I was writing half of it she was entitled to a pure half of it, no matter whether she was a recognised songwriter or not.
“I didn’t think that that was important: I thought that whoever I worked with, no matter what the method of collaboration was, that person, if they did help me on the song, should have a portion of the song for helping me.”
In 1971, Grade would kick things up a notch as he sued McCartney for a breach of an exclusive rights contract for $1,050,000. The case would never reach court with Grade’s new company ATV signing an exclusive seven-year publishing deal with McCartney Music. As part of the deal, McCartney was also forced into a very awkward TV special titled James Paul McCartney, which broadcast in 1973.
The final piece of this song’s story came with McCartney’s old friend, John Lennon. The songwriting duo had been at loggerheads for a few years now and tensions had only grown during their time apart. As such, it came as no surprise when McCartney aimed a thinly-veiled assault on Lennon through his song ‘Too Many People’ which featured on Ram. Equally, it was even less surprising when Lennon responded and cited ‘Another Day’ in his attack: “The only thing you done was ‘Yesterday’, and since you’re gone you’re just another day”.
The song, however, found favour with McCartney and his fans. The track became a serious part of Macca’s live repertoire throughout the years and has continued to be included right up until the 21st-century. 50 years later, ‘Another Day’ shows that McCartney’s solo star was always destined to shine brightly.