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Paul McCartney once chose to record a song on a yacht instead of Abbey Road Studios. Somehow, the vessel’s mobile recording studio was better than the one The Beatles used at the then-EMI Studios during the recording of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Paul McCartney with The Beatles on a yacht in Miami in 1964.
Paul McCartney and The Beatles | Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Paul McCartney wrote his song ‘Cafe on the Left Bank’ about a memory of France

In The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, Paul explained that his song, “Cafe on the Left Bank,” from his 1978 album, London Town, is based on a memory of France.

“Vin ordinaire was the only kind of vin we knew about in those days,” he wrote. “I couldn’t understand why people liked wine; anytime I tasted it, it was terrible. When John and I hitchhiked to Paris in 1961, we went to a café on the Left Bank, and the waitress was older than us – easy, since John was turning twenty-one and I was nearly twenty.

“She poured us two glasses of vin ordinaire, and we noticed she had hair under her arms, which was shocking: ‘Oh my God, look at that; she’s got 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 when I was setting this scene.”

In the song, Paul sings, “Café on the left bank, ordinary wine/ Touching all the girls with your eyes/ Tiny crowd of Frenchmen ’round a TV shop/ Watching Charles de Gaulle make a speech/ Dancing after midnight, sprawling to the car/ Continental breakfast in the bar.”

Paul chose to record his song on a yacht

The former Beatle wrote that he has a “strong recollection of recording the song with a mobile studio on a yacht moored in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The studio had twenty-four tracks – keep in mind that ‘Sgt. Pepper’ had been 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 me on bass and vocals. I also produced the track. That’s a bit like being in a café on the Left Bank and being guest and garçon at the same time.”


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Abbey Road Studios is just as famous as The Beatles

For whatever reason, Abbey Road Studios wasn’t good enough for Paul to record his song. However, his relationship with the famous recording studio is undeniable. The Beatles and countless artists have made the recording studio just as famous as them.

In the trailer of If These Walls Could Sing, Elton John said, “When you enter a place with so much history around it, it’s kind of sacred in a way. People want to come here. They want the sound of Abbey Road.”

Paul knew Abbey Road was special.