There is often a lot of confusion about Paul McCartney songs. For instance, Paul has come up with at least three different explanations for the derivation of the title of "Jet" off of the "Band on the Run" album. The song "1985" exhibits similar confusion, because people aren't even sure what the title is. Is it "1985" or is it "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five"? Many supposedly "authoritative" sites get this one wrong.
It doesn't really matter, but the real title is the latter, or, to be scrupulously accurate, "Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five." Yes, just like that, spelling correction be damned.
|This is the back of a reissue edition of the "Band on the Run" album. Note that "Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five" is the actual, true-to-the-source title.|
This was the "B" side to the single "Band on the Run" and the final song on the album of the same name. One of his great lesser-known songs. In those days, his throw-aways would have made the entire career of some other bands.
|Paul McCartney issued a limited-edition 12-inch remix of the "1985" track.|
Here is Paul's explanation of the song, written in his 1976 autobiography:
With a lot of songs I do, the first line is it. It's all in the first line, and then you have to go on and write the second line. With 'Eleanor Rigby' I had 'picks up the rice in the church where the wedding has been.' that was the one big line that started me off on it. With this one it was 'No one ever left alive in nineteen hundred and eighty-five. That's all I had of that song for months. No one ever left alive in nineteen hundred and eighty... six?' It wouldn't have worked!"Well, it did work, because the single went to No. 1 and stayed there for several weeks, undoubtedly helped by the B side. However, the track "Band on the Run" itself is so superb, it didn't really need any help.
|The Japanese sleeve for the "Band on the Run" and "1985" single.|
The song "1985" probably would stand up just fine as a solo performance by Paul on the piano. However, the album/single version features Linda on keyboards and Denny Laine on the guitar, along with a full orchestra providing a crescendo ending.
|Even the label itself uses the shorthand "1985" as the title, so if you do, you're doing just fine.|
It's a very underrated Paul song if there is such a thing, and well worth a listen now and then. In fact, a remix by German producer Timo Maas and Canadian DJ James Teej in 2016 earned a Grammy nomination in February 2017. Paul seldom plays this song in concert, and, in fact, never did until 2010.