Paul McCartney has no shortage of global hit singles across his decades-long career. As Macca marked his 80th birthday on June 18, the world stopped to reminisce on the music icon’s incomparable discography.
We also completed a deep dive over here at American Songwriter and saw some lesser-known tracks that could use a little more love. We’re here to take you through 5 deep-cut McCartney songs that need to be added to your rotation as soon as possible.
1. “Every Night” (From McCartney, 1970)
McCartney’s solo debut is mainly known for its smash hit “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which shot up to the Top 10 in the U.S. soon after its release. However, the raw, lo-fi style record has a number of glimmering moments throughout, including the easy charm of “Every Night.”
The song features a simple arrangement that combines McCartney’s skill as a multi-instrumentalist and his ability to create a simple lyric that still expresses a wealth of emotion. The verses feature a dissonant melody that resolves itself by the time its ooh-filled chorus comes around.
2. “Dear Boy” (From RAM, 1971)
Supposedly written about his wife Linda’s ex-husband, “Dear Boy” is a simple song that incorporates almost vaudeville-style musicality with some studio echo effects bringing the whole thing back into modernity.
The sharp, almost mocking, lyrics are arranged with Beach Boy-style layered harmonies. Linda, herself also adds vocals to the song in what is perhaps her most shining moment on RAM.
3. “Here Today” (From Tug of War, 1982)
In “Here Today,” McCartney writes a heartfelt ode to his late friend and co-writer, John Lennon. In the wake of his death, McCartney took the same tack that Lennon did in The Beatles’ famed “In My Life,” letting his emotions drive the song’s simple lyrics.
It is, fittingly, one of the most Beatlesque tracks McCartney has written since the end of the group, featuring a string arrangement from George Martin himself. Even though decades have passed since Lennon’s death, McCartney still gets choked up on the rare occasion he plays the song live.
4. “Calico Skies” (From Flaming Pie, 1997)
One of the last tracks Martin produced for McCartney, “Calico Skies” sees Macca singing with only an acoustic guitar arrangement backing him up.
The track is a little folkier than other McCartney songs of the same era, making it, as he says, “a gentle love song” that turns into “a ’60s protest song.” He extends the song by repeating the final chorus, letting the track end in its own time.
5. “This Never Happened Before” (From Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, 2005)
From the incorporation of an ancient-sounding drum box to the tempo change a la “A Day in the Life,” one of McCartney’s best, more-recent love songs wears its past influences on its sleeve.
“This Never Happened Before” is yet another declaration of romance from a man who has surely sung countless love songs across his decades-long career. He sings This is the way it should be for lovers / They shouldn’t go it alone / It’s not so good when you’re on your own making his stance on the necessity of love clear.
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