Paul & Linda McCartney - “Another Day” and “Oh Woman, Oh Why”
Bridging the gap between 'McCartney' and 'Ram', Jessy Krupa takes a look at the first single collaboration between Paul McCartney and his wife Linda.
McCartney was a hit solo album for Paul McCartney, but none of its tracks were released as a single. McCartney was still under the British idea that singles are stand-alone songs, not contained in albums, so that they can be strung together occasionally on EPs or “greatest hits” albums. So in February of 1971, “Another Day”, with its B-side of “Oh Woman, Oh Why”, was released as a single. The songs would not be included on the upcoming Ram album, which was released about three months later.
“Another Day” began as a track that the Beatles worked on for possible release on what would be the Let It Be album, but after the band's break-up, it turned into something else. Just as she had co-written “Man We Was Lonely” before, Linda McCartney also co-wrote “Another Day”. While posters promoting the single listed it as “written by Mr. and Mrs. McCartney” and the single itself was credited to Paul & Linda McCartney, others found that suspicious.
The owner of Northern Songs, the publishing company who held the rights on Paul’s work, later filed a lawsuit (also citing the next single, “Uncle Albert"/"Admiral Halsey”) saying that Linda was incapable of songwriting. Paul once stated, “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.” Eventually the suit was dropped, but doubt and speculation continue to this very day on Linda’s contributions to Paul’s music. Could this be because of some sort of gender bias?
To “Another Day”, Linda contributed the necessary feminine touch, with her background vocals arriving when the song’s female subject has something to express. Similar to the Paul-composed “Eleanor Rigby” and “A World Without Love”, however, “Another Day's" main theme is loneliness. A woman goes through the everyday motions of her average life -- she showers and gets ready for work at her office job--but despite her self-sufficiency, she is alone and depressed without someone (“the man of her dreams”) to love. Though she is seeing someone, it isn’t love (“He comes and he stays, but he leaves the next day”). She still sadly goes through her routine, however, thinking that things will someday change for the better, because after all, “it’s just another day”.
John Lennon once criticized his former bandmate’s writing style in the Imagine album track, “How Do You Sleep?” with the line, “The only thing you done was 'Yesterday' / And since you’ve gone you’re just 'Another Day'". Once referring to him as “all pizza and fairy-tales”, he shut down the fact that McCartney’s songwriting usually describes the lives and hopes of fictional, but realistic, normal people. Lennon’s writing is usually autobiographical or about a social or political issue instead. This isn’t always the case, but it is the usual main difference between McCartney and Lennon’s solo work.
Recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York, “Another Day” and “Oh Woman, Oh Why” featured instrumentation from future Wings members, Denny Seiwell (drummer), Dave Spinozza, and Hugh McCracken (guitarists). The decision to release the songs on a single reportedly went to the assistant engineer, Dixon Van Winkle, who later felt they “got carried away with the bass part” on “Another Day”.
“Oh Woman, Oh Why”, the aforementioned B-side, might be seen as a continuation of the previous song, but it is unlikely. The phrase “fed up with your lying, cheating ways” implies that the woman has had to deal with this cad for a while, not that he just came and went. However, the next line, “But I get up every morning and every day” does seem a little more than a coincidence. Written solely by Paul, its dark tone, complete with gunshots, is vastly different from much of his catalog. Also notable about it is the fact that he sings both the male and female viewpoints in the song, using higher and lower voices, despite the fact that Linda is heard in the refrains.
“Another Day”/”Oh Woman, Oh Why” reportedly sold over a million copies worldwide. It was a number one hit in France and Australia, in the U.K. it reached number two, but in the U.S. it only got up to number five. Paul McCartney doesn’t perform these tracks in concert, but they are held in high-esteem. When Ram was re-released on CD, both of the songs were added on as a bonus. Whereas “Another Day” was included on the Wings Greatest, All The Best, and Wingspan: Hits and History compilations, “Oh Woman, Oh Why” has seen a different legacy. It was included twice on the DJ Freelance Hellraiser Twin Freaks remix album. It is first mixed along with elements of “Band On The Run”, “Loup (1st Indian On The Moon)”, and “Venus & Mars”, but its guitar sounds appear on “Lahula” later on in the album. It was also covered by orchestra leader Bert Kaempfert, and by Ray Paul and Emitt Rhodes on a 2001 McCartney tribute album.