|"Too Many People"|
|Single by Paul and Linda McCartney|
|from the album Ram|
|A-side||"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"|
|Released||2 August 1971|
|Recorded||10 November 1970|
|Genre||Rock, psychedelic rock|
|Producer(s)||Paul and Linda McCartney|
|Paul and Linda McCartney singles chronology|
|Ram track listing|
"Too Many People" is a song by Paul McCartney from his and his wife Linda McCartney's 1971 album Ram as well as the B-side of the "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" single.
"Too Many People" contains digs at McCartney's former bandmate and songwriting partner John Lennon, as well as his wife Yoko Ono.
I was looking at my second solo album, Ram, the other day and I remember there was one tiny little reference to John in the whole thing. He'd been doing a lot of preaching, and it got up my nose a little bit. In one song, I wrote, "Too many people preaching practices", I think is the line. I mean, that was a little dig at John and Yoko. There wasn't anything else on it that was about them. Oh, there was "You took your lucky break and broke it in two".— Paul McCartney, Playboy , 1984
The line "You took your lucky break and broke it in two" was originally "Yoko took your lucky break and broke it in two" but McCartney revised it before recording the song.
The song also begins with the line "piss off", later revealed to be a dig on Lennon.
Piss off, cake. Like, a piece of cake becomes piss off cake, And it's nothing, it's so harmless really, just little digs. But the first line is about "too many people preaching practices". I felt John and Yoko were telling everyone what to do. And I felt we didn't need to be told what to do. The whole tenor of the Beatles thing had been, like, to each his own. Freedom. Suddenly it was "You should do this". It was just a bit the wagging finger, and I was pissed off with it. So that one got to be a thing about them.
Rolling Stone Magazine stated that "Too Many People"'s "incredibly sweet melody is proof that McCartney could use his charm as a weapon when he wanted to."
The introduction to the song as well as the bridge alternate the tonic chord of G major with its minor subdominant chord of C minor.This allows McCartney to go from the bridge to a repetition of the introduction music as a means of moving the music back to the verses. According to Vincent Perez Benitez, this strategy "enhance[s] the coherence of the song," in a manner consistent with McCartney's earlier song "Maybe I'm Amazed." "Too Many People" incorporates guitar solos in both the middle and at the end of the song.
McCartney also recorded an instrumental version of "Too Many People" that was released on his Thrillington album. In this version a stereo phaser was used to produce a sound that music journalist Ian Peel describes as coming from a "psychedelic echo chamber."
"Too Many People" was initially recorded on 10 November 1970 in Columbia Studios in New York City. Most of the overdubbing, including adding brass instruments to the beginning of the song, occurred in January 1971. Additional overdubbing occurred in March/April 1971.
Following the release of Ram, John Lennon pointed out several songs that he claimed were attacks at him, among them being "Too Many People".
There were all the bits at the beginning of Ram like 'Too many people going underground'. Well that was us, Yoko Ono and me. And 'You took your lucky break', that was considering we had a lucky break to be with him.
In response, Lennon wrote "How Do You Sleep?" for his album Imagine , an attack at McCartney featuring musical contributions from George Harrison. McCartney later wrote "Dear Friend", a truce offering to Lennon, and released it on the album Wild Life with his band, Wings.
Rolling Stone Magazine rated "Too Many People" to be McCartney's 3rd greatest post-Beatles song, 2 slots ahead of its A-side "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" and behind only "Band on the Run" and "Maybe I'm Amazed."Billboard described "Too Many People" as "wailing sentimentality." Capital Journal critic Steve Gettinger called "Too Many People" a high point of Ram stating that it is "bright and bitter, carefully constructed" and "unmistakably Beatles." Boston Globe critic Ernie Santosuosso described it as "a loud meditation about society" with a "particularly violent guitar statement," praising the music more than the lyrics.
Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn described "Too Many People" as "a sort of musical extension of Thomas Malthus that includes some of the humorous irony of the vintage Beatles," with lines such as "Too many people reaching for a piece of cake" and "Too many hungry people losing weight."Hilburn goes on to state that the song provides a lyric surprise, which he likens to an O. Henry story, in which the lyrics turn to "a statement about the resolution of ones problems in a difficult self-centered world." Hilburn suggests that this may be a reference to McCartney's experience with the Beatles' breakup.
Of the instrumental version on Thrillington, Peel states that "rock 'n' roll is transformed into funky jazz with more than a hint of studio experimentation."
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