Is Kanye West’s New Song Based on This Obscure, 45-Year-Old Outtake From Paul McCartney?
After months of leaked snippets, a flamethrower-assisted performance at last week’s BRIT Awards, and the widespread circulation of a radio rip earlier this afternoon, you can finally hear the complete, studio version of Kanye West’s “All Day” below, via iHeartRadio. (You can also purchase it on iTunes.)
While the studio version, for the most part, closely matches the live version, it departs most dramatically in the last minute. While the song seems designed to be this album’s “Ni**as in Paris”-like club favorite (it even reprises that hit’s “ball”/“mall” rhymes and “that shit cray” refrain), the last minute takes an abrupt left turn into acoustic strumming and whistling. Though it’s the last thing you’d expect on a track like this, it actually comes courtesy of new frequent collaborator Paul McCartney (as confirmed by rapper and singer Theophilus London, who also features on the track), from back when McCartney had his own first child with his wife Linda.
You can listen to Paul tell the whole story behind the interlude below, but here’s the gist. Paul says that, while hanging around in the hospital after the birth, he was looking at a Picasso painting of an old man playing guitar (presumably The Old Guitarist), when he noticed that the man was playing a chord that used “only … two fingers.” He tried to recreate the chord, and he thought it sounded nice, so he tried to write a whole song around this two-finger motif.
He later recorded the song during the Ram sessions as a peaceful guitar-and-whistle track called “When the Wind Is Blowing.” It was never released, but recordings have found their way online:
Though the 45-year-old chord progression is hardly recognizable when sung in “Monster”-style layered vocals and played in synth bass, it also seems to be the basis for “All Day’s” own chord progression throughout. Did West and McCartney, who also recorded the parental ballad “Only One” together, bond over memories of having their first children—and end up with this? What’s really cray is that this old lullaby of a song would, after decades, become part of Kanye West’s new club banger.