Paul McCartney once chose to record a song on a yacht rather than at Abbey Road Studios. Somehow, the ship’s mobile recording studio was better than the one the Beatles used during recording at the EMI studios of the time Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
In The lyrics: 1956 to todayPaul explained that his song “Cafe on the Left Bank” was taken from his 1978 album Londonbased on a memory of France.
“Vin Ordinaire was the only type of vin we knew at the time,” he wrote. “I couldn’t understand why people liked wine; Every time I tried it, it was awful. When John and I were hitchhiking to Paris in 1961, we pulled into a cafe on the Left Bank and the waitress was older than us – simply because John was turning twenty-one and I was almost twenty.
“She poured us two glasses of Vin Ordinaire and we noticed that she had hair under her arms, which was shocking: ‘Oh my god, look at that; she has hair under her arms!’ The French would do that, but no British – or, as we would later learn, American – girl would be seen dead with hair under her arms. You had to be a real beatnik. It’s such a clear memory for me, so it was in my head as I directed that scene.”
In the song, Paul sings, “Left Bank cafe, ordinary wine/ Touch all the girls with your eyes/ Tiny crowd of French people around a TV shop/ Watching Charles de Gaulle give a speech/ Dancing after midnight, sprawling out in the car/ Continental breakfast in the Bar.”
The former Beatle wrote that he has “a strong memory of recording the song using a mobile studio on a yacht moored off the US Virgin Islands. The studio had twenty-four tracks – remember that “Sgt. Pepper’ was done with four tracks – so it was the next best thing to being in Abbey Road.
“The classic Wings line-up was involved, with Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch on guitars, Joe English on drums, Linda on keyboards and vocals, and myself on bass and vocals. I also produced the track. It’s a bit like being in a Left Bank café and being a guest and garçon at the same time.”
For some reason Paul didn’t think Abbey Road Studios was good enough to record his song. However, his relationship with the famous recording studio is undeniable. The Beatles and countless artists have made the recording studio as famous as they are.
In the trailer of If these walls could sing, said Elton John: “Walking into a place with so much history is sacred in a way. People want to come here. They want the Abbey Road sound.”
Paul knew Abbey Road was something special.