Paul McCartney shares previously unreleased Jeff Beck collaboration

Paul McCartney and Jeff Beck
(Image credit: Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns / Phil Bourne/Redferns via Getty Images)

Paul McCartney has paid tribute to the late electric guitar great Jeff Beck by sharing a previously unheard collaboration the pair put together back in the mid-’90s.

Titled Why are they cutting down the rainforest?, the track was created by Beck and McCartney as an environmental message, and serves to highlight the harmful impact of deforestation.

Sharing the previously unreleased track via Instagram on “Meat Free Monday”, McCartney wrote, “With the sad passing of Jeff Beck, a good friend of mine, and a great, great guitar player, it reminded me of the time we worked together, many years ago, on a campaign for vegetarianism. 

“It's great guitar playing,” he continued, “because it's Jeff.” And, of course, McCartney is absolutely right.

Though the focus of the song is concerned with environmentalism – and, specifically, Beck’s sincere spoken word monologue – that doesn’t mean the six-string legend didn’t get to serve up more than 60 seconds of gain-laden guitar goodness.

Said guitar goodness arrives in the form of searing gain-drenched lead lines, which subtly showcase Beck’s exquisite feel and tonal control on top of some jangly acoustic guitar progressions. The only problem to our ears is that it’s about two minutes too short.

Indeed, the only thing that matches Beck’s playing is the guitarist’s vocal overdub, which sees him reflect on the dangers of animal agriculture, the harmful knock-on effects from deforestation and the need for change.

For context, Why are they cutting down the rainforest? was included as part of a 13-part US radio series created and presented by The Beatles frontman – called Oobu Joobu – which highlighted campaigns that were especially important to McCartney. Vegetarianism and deforestation was one such campaign.

Jeff Beck passed away earlier this year at the age of 78, sparking an outpouring of tributes from the guitar and wider music world. One tribute came from Jack White, who shared a clip from 2002 that saw the White Stripes share the stage with Beck to perform Yardbirds classics.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.