Listen to Paul McCartney’s new “never-before-heard” track featuring Jeff Beck

The 90’s song features “great guitar playing, because it’s Jeff,” Paul McCartney said in a statement. 

Paul McCartney has shared Why Are They Cutting Down the Rainforest?, a previously unreleased track featuring the spoken word vocals and guitar strums of the late Jeff Beck. The song was first recorded by the pair in 1994, and was unearthed by McCartney yesterday (January 30) as part of his Meat Free Monday campaign.

The vegetarian outreach program was created by McCartney and his daughters in 2009, and encourages people to go without meat for one day every week. The environmentally themed song sees Beck — who passed away at the age of 78 earlier this month — muse on animal agriculture and deforestation over a psychedelic rock beat. 

Jeff Beck
Credit: Phil Bourne/Redferns

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,” McCartney said in a statement announcing the song’s release. “The previously unreleased and never-before-heard piece of music [has] great guitar playing, because it’s Jeff.”

Why Are They Cutting Down the Rainforest? opens with Beck reflecting on the “ripping up [of] the rainforests”, and the removal of green areas which could house “plants that could provide a cure for leukaemia or heart disease, maybe even a cure for AIDS.” Beck continues: “Grazing. What worries me is what else we are killing besides the cows.” Listen to the McCartney and Beck collaboration below. 

The discovery of the track was spurred by Beck’s sudden passing due to bacterial meningitis, which led McCartney and his team to comb through their archives for old collaborations. McCartney is one of many fellow musicians to praise the late guitarist, with the likes of Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Idol similarly paying tribute to the former Yardbirds bandmate. 

Credit: Rob Verhorst/Redferns

Billy Joel, meanwhile, honoured Beck by covering the tracks People Get Ready and Going Down, which featured on the Beck-assisted albums Flash and Going Down, respectively.