“Coming Up” by Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney’s “Coming Up” starts off with the narrator telling the addressee that he is “coming up like a flower” to the benefit of them both. These days when someone speaks of coming up, we take that to allude to the person becoming increasingly successful in the world. And generally speaking, that also seems to be the nature of the concept Paul is alluding to.

But this song was dropped some 40 years prior to this writing, at a time when colloquialisms weren’t necessarily as they are today. And all things considered, the vocalist doesn’t really sound as if he is referring to ‘coming up’ in a material sense.

For instance, from the first verse, it is established that his is to secure the addressee’s love. Or viewed otherwise, what the latter is lacking in life is a true “friend”. And it is Paul’s objective, apparently, to get into the proper position where he can fulfill that need, thus the title/chorus.

Then, the third and fourth verses are more macrocosmic. Here, it is revealed that the relationship between the vocalist and addressee is not only meant to be of benefit to themselves. Indeed, it may be the addressee is a personification of people in general. 

So Coming Up then morphs more into what can be gleaned as a hippy-love sentiment, one in which both parties “want a better kind of future… that everyone can share”. And of course flowers, which play a role in the chorus, are an important symbol pointing to the hippy movement which helped define the 1960s, i.e. McCartney’s most-dominant decade as a musician.


Conclusively, what this reads like is a song supporting such an idea, i.e. free, universal love. But that statement is not relayed in a direct way. Paul did a lot of cutting and pasting in the process of putting “Coming Up” together, and maybe some cohesiveness got lost along the way.

But the mood of the piece still comes through regardless, arguably to the point where the listener making minute sense was not the intent of the songwriter. And what is discernible is this. The vocalist perceives his “coming up” as being an event in which will benefit all. Or relayed in a more down-to-earth way, he’s the type of person who cares for mankind, and ultimately his works will show that.

Lyrics to Paul McCartney's "Coming Up"

When was “Coming Up” released?

The track “Coming Up” is the lead single and first song from “McCartney II”, a second solo studio project from global music icon Paul McCartney. Officially, this tune came out on April 11 of 1982.  

Two record companies were responsible for releasing “Coming Up”. Columbia Records were responsible for its release in the US, whereas Parlophone Records officially issued the song in the UK.


McCartney is the sole author of this track, and he single-handedly produced it.

Awards and Accolades

The single became a major hit around the globe, reaching No. 1 on the popular Hot 100 in the US and on the main singles chart in Canada. It reached No. 2 on the UK’s official singles chart, and peaked at the same position in New Zealand.  

Strong sales ensured “Coming Up” Gold certification from the RIAA in the United States.

Live Version of “Coming Up”

There is a very popular live version of this track. This version was performed by McCartney’s band called Paul McCartney and Wings.

McCartney organized a series of concerts in December of 1979 called the “Concerts for the People of Kampuchea”. Queen, The Clash, The Pretenders, The Who and many more artists performed to raise funds for those affected in war-torn Cambodia.

McCartney performed the aforementioned live version of this classic during these concerts.

Other Notable Live Versions

McCartney performed it at the Knebworth Park in UK on 30th June, 1990 as part of “The Paul McCartney World Tour 1989-1990”.

On 15th July, 2009, McCartney surprised thousands of fans in Manhattan as he played a few hits on the top of the Ed Sullivan Theater’s marquee for the “Late Show With David Letterman”. This song was one of these hits.

Coming Up

Paul McCartney’s “McCartney II” Album

“McCartney II”, being a follow-up to the singer’s first individual project “McCartney”, was released on May 16 of 1980. And like its first single, this album was also released in the UK and the US by Parlophone and Columbia Records, respectively.

“Waterfalls” and “Temporary Secretary” are the other singles that were used in promoting this record. The former was released on June 13 of 1980 and the latter dropped on September 19, the same year.

The album’s success earned it enviable positions on major albums charts around the world. In the UK, for instance, it peaked at No. 1 on the main albums chart in the region. It got to No. 3 on the US’ iconic Billboard 200 chart.

Furthermore, this record made the top 10 on the national albums charts in Sweden, Austria, and Spain.

In 2003 British music magazine, Mojo compiled a list of “Top 50 Eccentric Albums”, and this album was ranked at No. 26 on said list. Then, in 2018, it was rated at No. 186 on Pitchfork’s compilation of “The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s”.

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    The song is a message to John.

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