You Gave Me The Answer – Ian from England asks...
"Mrs. Vandebilt" is a song by Paul McCartney and Wings from the album Band on the Run. The track was not issued as a single in the UK or US, but was a single in Continental Europe and Australia.
Writing and recording
The opening lines of the song are taken from the catchphrase of English music hall performer Charlie Chester. Chester's catchphrase was "Down in the jungle living in a tent, better than a bungalow, no rent"; the lyrics changed this to "Down in the jungle living in a tent, You don't use money you don't pay rent".
Howie Casey is featured with a saxophone solo.
The song was recorded during the album sessions in Lagos, Nigeria. The studio suffered a power outage during the session, but the recording continued with backup generators. Additional overdubs were later done in London.
The forced laughter that closed Mrs Vandebilt was influenced by Charlie Chester's effects on his studio audience. Wings added more laughter in London's AIR Studios after returning from Lagos, Nigeria. McCartney recalled: "The laughing? It started off in Africa. We were doing sort of daft laughs at the end. When we got back we eventually overdubbed this crowd of people who were laughing. It was great listening to the tapes, trying to select the little bit of laughter that we would use. Most of it was us, but we need a little bit to cushion it up. It was great listening to a roomful of people laughing in stereo. They were getting into all these laughing bits, and we were on the floor."
An album track from the 1973 Paul McCartney and Wings album Band On The Run, Mrs Vandebilt later became a fixture of McCartney's live shows.
The name was a misspelling of the Vanderbilt family, the US dynasty of Dutch descent whose patriarch, Cornelius Vanderbilt, made a fortune in the 19th century through rail and shipping empires.
The lyrics, however, contained little more than a passing mention to the family - notably in the lines "When your pile is on the wane/You don't complain of robbery", a reference to the family's financial decline in the 20th century. Instead, McCartney used the name as a starting point for a scenario of his own invention.
Mrs Vandebilt was a good one. I didn't know anything about her but I just knew she was like... a rich person.