A Look at Paul and Linda McCartney’s Musical Partnership

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Saturday, September 24 marks Linda McCartney’s birthday. The famed photographer, activist, and singer who acted as both a muse to her husband Paul McCartney and helped see his vision through died at age 56 after a long battle with breast cancer. Her memory lives on in the collaboration she made with her husband as a solo artist and the frontman of Wings.

Linda’s touch can be felt in almost all of Paul’s work post-Beatles. From McCartney to Wild Prairie, Paul and Linda’s personal relationship sparked a natural creative one that produced and inspired a number of enduring hits.

Below, we’re going through 5 of Paul and Linda McCartney’s collaborative tracks as an homage to their musical partnership.

1. “Every Night” (from McCartney, 1970)

Though Linda technically plays a small role in the final recording of “Every Night,” her influence on Paul’s low-key debut album couldn’t be more integral. While the fab four were all going their separate ways, and subsequently re-introducing themselves to the world as solo artists, Paul opted for something less lofty and more D.I.Y than his ex-Beatle counterparts. McCartney is chock full of sprawling odes to the quiet life with Linda by his side. “Every Night” and its ear-worm chorus lead the pack.

2. “Dear Boy” (from Ram, 1971)

Though a number of the songs on Ram were snidely directed at John Lennon, amid the duo’s passive-aggressive quibbles in the wake of the Beatles break-up, “Dear Boy” is instead directed inward. Paul revels in his own dumb luck in finding Linda on the track while her cascading vocals seem almost Lennon-Esque in the background. McCartney has also said the song was pointed at Linda’s ex, Joseph Melville See, in an effort to say “Gosh, you know, she’s so amazing, I suppose you didn’t get it.”

3. “Some People Never Know” (from Wild Life, 1971)

Upon their release, McCartney and Ram fell short of the feted Beatles records – although, they now are seen in a much better light. Even Ringo, the most amiable of his ex-bandmates, didn’t get behind Macca’s solo pursuits. “I don’t think there’s one tune on the last one, Ram… I just feel he’s wasted his time… he seems to be going strange,” Ringo said at the time. The less than warm reaction lead Paul even further down the “weird” road and into another band—Wings.

Notably, the band started with a team-up of the McCartneys along with a couple of Dennys—Laine and Seiwell – and eight raw songs. Linda suddenly went into labor and required an emergency c-section. A frantic Paul was soothed when he saw a serene vision of angels’ wings and thus the name was born.

“Some People Never Know,” from Wings’ debut, is a meditation on love with Linda assisting on vocals as Paul sings, Only love can stand the test / Only you outshine the rest / Only fools take the rest.

4. “Listen to What the Man Said” (from Venus & Mars, 1975)

Venus and Mars was the sweet spot for the funkier side of what Paul and Linda accomplished together. “Listen to What the Man Said” is loose and groovy to boot. Linda’s backing vocals once again take things to the next level with lilting ad-libs. While albums like Ram saw Linda taking on more of a perfunctory role, Linda becomes an active part of the arrangement here.

5. “Seaside Woman” (from Wide Prairie, 1977/1998)

Following Linda’s death, Paul put together a compilation of songs in which his late wife sings about her own experiences. Wild Prairie is in stark contrast to what the duo was putting out under Paul’s name. In “The Light Comes From Within,” Linda sings, You say I’m simple / You say I’m a hick / You’re f—ing no one / You stupid d—. Certainly a brasher approach than “My Love” or “Dear Boy.”

The real gem on the album is “Seaside Woman.” Originally recorded under the name Suzy and the Red Stripes after the couple’s beer of choice, the track is a little reggae number that sees Paul goofing off in the background with fake claves. While Linda’s plainspoken, buoyant voice sings about the simple life, a longstanding idea in the couple’s music, her creative relationship with Paul lives on even after her death.

(Photo by Reg Lancaster/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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