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Paul McCartney - Once Upon A Long Ago (1987)

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  • 80's Score 80's score: 1.34
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"Once Upon a Long Ago" is a song by English musician Paul McCartney, released as his fortieth single on 16 November 1987, ...

"Once Upon a Long Ago" is a song by English musician Paul McCartney, released as his fortieth single on 16 November 1987, from his compilation All the Best!, released two weeks before the single. The track was produced by Phil Ramone and mixed by George Martin, and features violin by Nigel Kennedy.

The song was originally composed for the film The Princess Bride.

Originally it was intended that this song would be a duet between McCartney and Freddie Mercury. The two had known each other only casually, as Mercury was a fan of Buddy Holly and would occasionally attend McCartney's Holly-inspired events over the years. However, they became proper friends following socializing that took place after Live Aid. McCartney, who had sympathy for Mercury due to the press stalking him for stories about his health, wrote the song with Mercury in mind. Mercury, however, was inundated with work, both solo and with Queen, and McCartney continued the project without him. McCartney's pitch, phrasing and key on the finished track are all very similar to the guide vocal demo he created for Mercury when he was attached to the project. Linda McCartney revealed that Paul was devastated by Mercury's death when she appeared alone on British TV a few days after Mercury died. The track was recorded at Hog Hill Studio on 11 and 12 March 1987 with overdubs added at Abbey Road in July. During this session, a full orchestra was overdubbed, as well as instrumental contributions by Stan Sulzmann (saxophone), Nigel Kennedy (violin), and Adrian Brett (flute).

Filming for the video commenced on 16 October 1987 (The morning after the Great storm of 1987) in the Valley of Rocks, near Lynton in North Devon and concluded on 17 October. Appearing were Stan Sulzmann (Saxophone), Nigel Kennedy (Violin), Chris Whitten (Drums), Linda McCartney (Synthesizer), and Paul McCartney (Bass Guitar). Actor Fred Evans makes an appearance as Man with Broom. High winds and heavy rain precluded filming on the morning of the 16th so the crew filmed an indoor shot at Lynmouth town hall (this scene was not used in the final cut). However by late morning the weather had improved and although still windy, conditions were good enough to film at the Valley of Rocks. A local mountaineering instructor oversaw the rigging of a ladder so McCartney could safely access the top of Castle Rock for the guitar solo scene where a two way radio in McCartney's coat was used to relay a taped recording of the song. McCartney declined the use of a safety rope but did have to ask the helicopter to not fly so close when shooting aerial footage. Nigel Kennedy was only available on the second day of filming so the video was shot out of sequence with the guitar solo and end scene shot on the first day and the band scenes shot on the second day. Castle Air of Treasure Hunt fame were tasked with carrying out the aerial filming.

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