2020 marks 50 years since Paul McCartney released his self-titled first solo album. Featuring Paul playing every instrument and writing and recording every song, McCartney’s effortless charms have only grown in stature and influence over time.
Paul hadn’t planned to release an album in 2020, but in the isolation of “Rockdown,” he soon found himself fleshing out some existing musical sketches and creating even more new ones. Before long an eclectic collection of spontaneous songs would become McCartney III: a stripped back, self-produced and, quite literally, solo work marking the opening of a new decade, in the tradition of 1970’s McCartney and 1980’s McCartney II.
Recorded earlier this year in Sussex, McCartney III is mostly built from live takes of Paul on vocals and guitar or piano, overdubbing his bass playing, drumming, etc. atop that foundation. The process first sparked when Paul returned to an unreleased track from the early 90s, When Winter Comes (co-produced by George Martin). Paul crafted a new passage for the song, giving rise to album opener Long Tailed Winter Bird—while When Winter Comes, featuring its new 2020 intro Winter Bird, became the new album’s grand finale.