"Coming Up" is a song written and performed by Paul McCartney. It is the opening track on his second solo album McCartney II, which was released in 1980. Like the rest of the album, the song has a minimalist synthesised feel to it. It featured vocals sped up by using a vari-speed tape machine. McCartney played all the instruments and shared harmonies with wife Linda McCartney.

In Rolling Stone McCartney said the song started out with just a drum track "and just built on it bit by bit". He said he did not have any idea of what the song was going to end up like. He added guitars, then bass, then increased the backing track. He then wondered what he was going to do for the vocals. It was here he used the vari-speed machine plus vocals through an echo machine.[2]

John Lennon liked the song, crediting it for driving him out of retirement to resume recording.[3]


 [hide*1 Live version

Live version[edit]Edit

A live version of the song was recorded in GlasgowScotland, on 17 December 1979 by Wings during their tour of the UK. This version had a much fuller sound and was included as one of the two songs on the B-side of the single; the other B-side was also a Wings song, "Lunchbox/Odd Sox", that dated back to the Venus and Mars sessions. Both B-sides were credited to Paul McCartney & Wings.

Columbia Records wanted to put the live version on McCartney II but McCartney resisted the change, wanting to keep it a solo album. Instead, a one-sided 7" white-label promotional copy of the Wings version was included with the album in North America.

"Coming Up (Live at Glasgow)" has since appeared on the US versions of All the Best! and Wingspan, while the solo studio version is included on the UK releases.

A different live Wings recording of "Coming Up" appears on the album Concerts for the People of Kampuchea, with an additional verse that was edited out of the Glasgow version.

Track listing[edit]Edit

7" single (R 6035)
  1. "Coming Up" – 3:49
  2. "Coming Up" (Live at Glasgow) – 3:51
    • Performed by Paul McCartney & Wings
  3. "Lunch Box/Odd Sox" – 3:54
    • Performed by Paul McCartney & Wings


Chart performance[edit]Edit

In the UK, the single was an immediate hit, reaching number two in its third week on the chart.[4]

In the US, Columbia Records promoted the live version which subsequently received more airplay than the studio version. McCartney was unaware of Columbia's move, otherwise he might have pushed for the A-side, which he thought was the stronger version. An executive from Columbia Records explained the switch by stating "Americans like the sound of Paul McCartney's real voice."[2]

In the US, "Coming Up" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[5] Although the live version received more airplay, Billboard listed the A-side on the Hot 100 for the first 12 weeks on the chart, including three weeks at number one, before switching to the more popular B-side for the remaining nine weeks on the chart.[6]

Chart (1980) Peak


UK Singles Chart 2
US Billboard Hot 100 1
Canada RPM 100 Singles 1

Year-end charts[edit]Edit

Chart (1980) Position
US Billboard Hot 100 7

Music video[edit]Edit

"Coming Up" is also well known for its music video, with Paul McCartney playing ten roles and Linda McCartney playing two. The "band" (identified as "The Plastic Macs" on the drum kit—an homage to Lennon's conceptual Plastic Ono Band)[7][8] features Paul and Linda's imitations of various rock musician stereotypes, as well as a few identifiable musicians. In his audio commentary on the 2007 video collection The McCartney Years, McCartney identified characters that were impersonations of specific artists: Hank Marvin (guitarist from The Shadows), Ron Mael of Sparks (keyboards), and a 'Beatlemania-era' version of himself. While others such as author Fred Bronson have suggested that there are other identifiable impersonations in the video, such as Andy MacKayFrank ZappaMick Fleetwood and Neil Young,[9] McCartney said the other roles were simply comic relief.[10]

The video made its world premiere on Saturday Night Live on 17 May 1980.[11]

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