McCartney’s Kisses on the Bottom – Who Owns The Songs?

Just had an email from Bruce Hamlin, an Australian collector who runs The Beatles Records Information Service, with some information about the new Paul McCartney release of Kisses on the Bottom (out on February 7).

Because the album is Paul interpreting some of the great old songs he loves, Bruce muses at the end of his email: “The cynic in me reckons that Paul owns the publishing rights to all these songs too. Just for that extra bit of icing on the cake when the royalties come in….”

McCartney of course owns MPL Communications Limited, one of the biggest song publishing and licensing companies in the world – and in fact does own the rights to literally thousands of songs and covering nearly 100 years of music.

So, how many of the songs he’s covering on Kisses on the Bottom does McCartney already own, and will he subsequently get song royalties from tracks he didn’t write back into his own business? In the album’s track-list below I’ve put in RED whether MPL administers the publishing rights:

1. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter  –  YES  (written by Joe Young, Fred E. Ahlert, 1935)
2. Home (When Shadows Fall)  –  NO
3. It’s Only A Paper Moon  –  NO
4. More I Cannot Wish You  –  YES  (written by Frank Loesser, 1949)
5. The Glory Of Love  –  NO
6. We Three (My Echo, My Shadow And Me)  –  YES  (written by Dick Robertson, Sammy Mysels, Nelson Cogane, 1939)
7. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive  –  YES  (written by Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, 1944)
8. My Valentine (it’s a new McCartney composition, 2012)  –  YES 
9. Always  –  NO
10. My Very Good Friend The Milkman  –  NO
11. Bye Bye Blackbird  –  NO
12. Get Yourself Another Fool  –  NO
13. The Inch Worm  –  YES  (written by Frank Loesser, 1951)
14. Only Our Hearts (another new composition)   –  YES  

The Deluxe CD Album will feature 2 bonus tracks:

15. Baby’s Request (a 1979 McCartney tune from Back to the Egg)  –  YES 
16. My One And Only Love  –  YES

Therefore, in answer to Bruce’s question, for the standard CD edition of Kisses Paul McCartney owns half the songs. For the deluxe edition he owns the rights to 9 out of the 16 tracks.

Also, it’s just been pointed out to me by Beatlesblog reader Craig that two of the songs on the album have previously been released in versions on Apple Records. Ringo did ‘Bye, Bye Blackbird’ on Sentimental Journey (his 1970 tribute to old songs he loves), and Mary Hopkin recorded ‘The Inch Worm’ on her first album, Postcard (1968).

Peter Asher, Paul, Mary Hopkin at Trident Studios, London, 1968 (Apple)

Paul produced Mary Hopkin’s Postcard LP, so he must have liked the song ‘The Inch Worm’ for a long time. He chose the album’s songs, the arranger and even the artwork for the album cover. From the liner notes of the digitally re-mastered edition of Postcard from 2010:

Mary remembers that the show tunes and hits from yesteryear that make up half the collection were favourites of Paul’s father, Jim McCartney. They call to mind the valve-warming radio days of the BBC’s old Light Programme, Ringo Starr’s Sentimental Journey album that Apple would soon release, and the comfy familiarity that Paul evoked in Beatles songs such as ‘Honey Pie’, ‘When I’m Sixty Four’ and ‘Your Mother Should Know’.

Sounds just like the 2012 publicity for Kisses on the Bottom, doesn’t it.

‘The Inch Worm’ originally comes from the 1952 Danny Kaye film Hans Christian Anderson. And Paul’s company MPL Communications Limited now owns the publishing rights to the song.

You can access the database for all the songs that ML Communications has the rights to at: www.mplcommunications.com/search.php  For most tracks in the database you can also listen to full audio examples, often by a range of performers.

For a great film of Mary Hopkin performing different language versions of ‘Those Were the Days’ see the Wogblog page. Great shots of the Apple offices in 1968, too.