Listen to Paul McCartney’s earliest song, recorded when he was just 14-years-old
Recorded around the time of his 14th birthday, the piano-led track ‘Suicide’ is a contender for one of the earliest songs Paul McCartney ever created.
The song, which McCartney cherished and wrote with the intentions of handing over to Frank Sinatra, gained somewhat of a cult status as The Beatles’ fame skyrocketed. While the track was buried underneath the mountains of material created during his partnership with John Lennon, ‘Suicide’ often reappeared during numerous different studio sessions which further added to its mystery.
Despite being one of his earliest compositions, the song wouldn’t be given its debut studio take until January 1969 when McCartney laid it down in parts during the rehearsals for the now-iconic Beatles song ‘Get Back’ but was once again added to the ‘maybe’ pile. Almost exactly one year later, a serious studio version of the song was recorded for his McCartney solo album but, once again, Macca decided against it and only a few samples of the track were eventually used.
“That was a song I’d had forever,” McCartney is quoted as saying in McCartney Archive Collection. “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 64” 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.”
McCartney added: “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’.”
Over the years the song was spurned further and, returning to the track, McCartney recorded yet another updated demo version in 1974 and handed it over to Frank Sinatra as he had originally planned at the age of 14. Sinatra, however, declined the opportunity and ‘Suicide’ was once again shelved.
Finally, in 1975, McCartney recorded the track yet again and this time for the “rockumentary” film One Hand Clapping made by McCartney and his then band, Wings, at Abbey Road studios in London. However, such is the pattern with this song, once more it failed to appear.