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Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello worked on many songs together, however, that doesn’t mean they always got along. For example, Costello left the studio because Paul mentioned this classic hit to him. Here’s why Costello was so upset.

Paul McCartney in a recording studio pointing his finger
Paul McCartney | Frank Tewkesbury / Stringer

Elvis Costello was ‘overly sensitive’ while working on this song with Paul McCartney

According to The Washington Post, Paul and Costello worked on a song from Paul’s album Flowers in the Dirt called “That Day Is Done.” They had very different visions for the ballad. Costello wanted the ballad to use New Orleans style brass instruments. Paul started throwing around other ideas about how “That Day Is Done” could sound.

Paul explained a little about the creation of the song. “This is one of the rules of my game,” he revealed. “I will say stuff, any idea that comes into my head. And if you don’t like it, you just tell me and I’ll probably agree. But my method is to throw out a lot of stuff and whittle it down.”

“That Day Is Done”

Paul had a more modern vision for the song, saying it should resemble The Human League’s “Do You Want Me.” Costello reacted to Paul’s idea by leaving the studio. Costello revealed he was “overly sensitive” about the song because he was so attached to its lyrics. 

What Paul McCartney thought of The Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me’ and making songs with Elvis Costello

Subsequently, Paul discussed why he brought up The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.” “Actually, he was really not a fan of The Human League,” Paul said. “I like ‘Don’t You Want Me.’ I think that’s, like, a classic pop record. . . . I can now see now that me even mentioning the words Human League would send him off in the wrong direction.”

“Do You Want Me”

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Ultimately, Paul and Costello went separate ways. “Thinking back to the time, I didn’t just want to just make an Elvis Costello album,” Paul said. “I also wanted to work with this fabulous arranger, Clare Fischer, which may not have happened if I had been working with Elvis.” Regardless, the final version of “That Day Is Done” was closer to Costello’s ideas than Paul’s.

How did the world react to Paul McCartney’s ‘That Day is Done’ vs. The Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me’

This raises an interesting question: How did “That Day is Done” perform compared to The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me?” “That Day is Done” was not released as a single, so it didn’t chart on the Billboard Hot 100. However, Flowers in the Dirt reached No. 21 on the Billboard 200, remaining on the chart for 50 weeks.

On the other hand, “Don’t You Want Me” was a massive hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remaining on the chart for 28 weeks. In addition, its parent album, Dare, reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the chart for 38 weeks. While Costello became upset when Paul mentioned “Don’t You Want Me,” the world seemed to embrace it.