The Meaning Behind “Junior’s Farm” by Paul McCartney and Wings and How a Tennessee Getaway Inspired It

In 1974, Paul McCartney and Wings released the standalone single “Junior’s Farm,” a hit song inspired by his surroundings far away from the spotlight.

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Under intense scrutiny, McCartney faced accumulating criticism of his post-Beatles career. Critics derided his early work following the Fab Four and claimed his genius had faded.

However, Band on the Run (1973) re-established McCartney, and the album is widely considered a masterpiece. His success continued with “Junior’s Farm,” which reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Junior’s Farm,” here’s the story behind the song.

Down on the Farm

Paul McCartney wrote “Junior’s Farm” about the same hideaway he had escaped to. Though the place is real, he writes abstractly about the country spot. It follows other farm songs like the Bentley Boys’ “Down on Penny’s Farm” and Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm.” While those songs are tales of oppression, McCartney’s is the getaway.

I was talking to an Eskimo
Said he was hoping for a fall of snow
When up popped a sea lion, ready to go

In July 1974, the former Beatle wrote the song during a six-week stay in Wilson County, Tennessee. He and his family had rented a 133-acre farm outside of Lebanon, where Wings joined them to record and rehearse for an upcoming tour.

Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go
Down to Junior’s Farm where I wanna lay low
Low life, high life, oh, let’s go
Take me down to Junior’s Farm

McCartney’sGetting-Out-of-Town Song

Writing about the quiet life first came to him at his cottage in Scotland. In his book The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, McCartney explained the meaning behind “Junior’s Farm”:

“It was such a relief to get out of those business meetings with people in suits, who were so serious all the time, and go off to Scotland and be able just to sit around in a T-shirt and corduroys. I was very much in that mindset when I wrote this song. The basic message is, let’s get out of here. You might say it’s my post-Beatles getting-out-of-town song,” he said.

Learning to Be a Band

Wings guitarist Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell quit before the Band on the Run sessions began in Nigeria. Following the album’s success, McCartney recruited guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Geoff Britton and flew the band to Tennessee to record.

Said McCartney, “Wings went to Nashville to bond as a band. We’d lost a guitarist and drummer before we recorded Band on the Run, and now we had two new members. So the idea was to rehearse and record a couple of songs, [‘Junior’s Farm’] being one of them. We stayed at the home of a songwriter called Curly Putman, who wrote ‘The Green, Green Grass of Home.’ I think he and his wife had gone on holiday, so we had the place to ourselves.”

The band gathered on Claude “Curly” Putman Jr.’s farm in Tennessee, which gave the song its title. “Junior’s Farm” was recorded at Sound Shop Studios in Nashville.

Wings rehearsed in Putman’s two-car garage while he was vacationing in Hawaii. When he returned, McCartney and the band began playing “Green, Green Grass of Home” as he walked up the driveway. (Putman died in 2016.)

Vacation Anthem

McCartney explained how the song inspires others to get away. “‘Junior’s Farm’ remains a good live song, and we usually put it in at the start of the set. It’s got a lot of elements that work well—a recognizable introduction and a good steady rock and roll beat, and then these interesting, slightly surreal lyrics and a rousing chorus of ‘Let’s go, let’s go.’ That gets people in the mood to set out, ‘just in the nick of time,’ for their own version of ‘Junior’s Farm,’ whatever that might be—wherever they want to disappear and hide out and just lie low.”

A New Chapter

Though Paul McCartney had quieted his critics with Band on the Run, he and his family longed for peace far away from his extraordinary fame.

They found solace in rural Tennessee. “Junior’s Farm” is important as his final release on Apple Records, the British record label he founded with The Beatles in 1968.

He was no longer living under the shadow of The Beatles’ success. Yes, he’ll always be a Beatle, but each member came to exist on their own terms. Individually, they reached Elvis levels of notoriety, where you can refer to them simply by using their first name.

Curly Putman and his farm won’t be forgotten either.

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Photo by David Redfern/Redferns

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