Paul McCartney has performed thousands of concerts throughout his career. Since he’s still human, he’s bound to make a few mistakes in these performances. With so many iconic songs by the Beatles, Wings and his solo career, he had to mix up some lyrics or forget them altogether. McCartney admitted he made a mistake performing “Penny Lane” and rebooted the song.
Paul McCartney confused the verse order of “Penny Lane”.
Paul McCartney constantly changes his set list during his tour. He only plays a few songs throughout, like “Hey Jude” and “Live and Let Die”. When he decides to bring a song back, he has to perfect it all over again, even after years of never playing it. “Penny Lane” is a Beatles classic, but not a crowd pleaser.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, McCartney said he was performing “Penny Lane” in Paris when he accidentally swapped the second and first verses.
“It should have been ‘a hairdresser showing photos’. So I thought, ‘I’m going to switch the verses — do verse two, then verse one, and we’ll move on to the middle part,'” McCartney explained. “But the band thought right, ‘He skipped verse one — we’re going in the middle.'”
Rather than continue with this bogus version, the British singer-songwriter canceled the show and relaunched the track. One of his friends thought it was a bit and asked if he did it at every show.
“It was a car accident in Penny Lane,” he added. “I had to say, ‘Stop, stop’. We totally screwed it up. We’re going to start over again.’ The audience went wild. A friend, Cilla Black, who has just passed away, came up to me after the show: ‘I loved that part. Do you do that every night?'”
Penny Lane is based on a real location in Liverpool
The lyrics to “Penny Lane” come from Paul McCartney’s personal experience. It is a street in Liverpool with many independent businesses, shops and restaurants. There’s even a now-famous barber shop, as mentioned in the song. In an interview with Clash, McCartney said it was an area he and John Lennon knew as they often stayed around the bus station.
“‘Penny Lane’ was kind of nostalgic, but it was really a place that John and I knew,” McCartney said. “Actually, it was a bus station. I used to take the bus to his house and had to change trains at Penny Lane or mine the same way he did, so we often ended up at that terminus, like a roundabout. It was a place that we both knew, so we both knew what was going on in the story.”
How did “Penny Lane” fare on the charts?
“Penny Lane” debuted as a double A-side single with “Strawberry Fields Forever” in 1967. “Strawberry Fields Forever” is another song about a real place. Lennon wrote it about the house Strawberry Field in Liverpool where he played in the garden as a child. Lennon and McCartney had competitive spirit, but McCartney won that round as “Penny Lane” beat “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
The track reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and reached #2 on the UK Singles Chart. It peaked at #1 in other countries including Sweden, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Australia, and Canada. Meanwhile, “Strawberry Fields Forever” peaked at #8 in the US and #2 in the UK
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