Song You Need to Know: Paul McCartney, ‘Back in Brazil’

One of the best songs on ‘Egypt Station’ is also one of the weirdest

Paul McCartney’s Egypt Station is a moving statement from a guy who’s found love and now wants the rest of the world have it too. And it proves that McCartney is still having lots of fun in the studio — no more so than on “Back in Brazil,” the album’s weirdest and freshest track. McCartney plays nine instruments on the recording (he even recorded the birds chirping at the beginning); over a lounge beat, he tells the story of a couple dealing with the changing tide of a relationship. It seems corny at first, but then intensifies as McCartney’s harmonium, Wurlitzer, congas (and triangle!) create a psychedelic haze. There is no chorus, except Paul shouting “Ichiban,” which, confusingly, is a Japanese word – asked to explain during a recent Twitter Q&A, McCartney said it has a “long answer” which he’ll give us by the end of the month. During the same Q&A, McCartney said he would consider teaming up with EDM artists. This song proves it might actually not be a bad idea.

According to producer Greg Kurstin, “Back in Brazil” was one of the songs that McCartney labored over most in the studio. “It was one of the trickier ones to get the feel of, to get the drum groove and all that stuff,” he said. “It started out as something very different than what it became. It started out with electric piano and drums and the whole band, and then we stripped it all down and built it all up with orchestra instruments. It started out as something very different than what it became. But I’m really happy with it. It has the clarinets playing the electric-piano part. It started out with electric piano and drums and the whole band, and then we stripped it all down and built it all up with orchestra instruments. When it really came to life for me was when we brought in [composer] Alan Broadbent and he helped with the arrangement. He did the strings and the clarinets and the flute and stuff like that. I like the arrangements he did on that.”

McCartney has yet to attempt the song live, but we hope he does. He just added three new dates to his Freshen Up tour, which at the moment is set to kick off May 23 in New Orleans.