Paul McCartney and Wings’ Greatest Hits: A Top 5 Countdown

Paul McCartney struggled getting acquainted to life after The Beatles. His early post-Beatles work wasn’t well-received by critics until Band on the Run—his third album with Wings.

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With Linda as his muse, Wings gave McCartney focus. It took two albums to find his footing. Wild Life (1971) and Red Rose Speedway (1973) were disappointments compared to The Beatles. Band on the Run (1973) joins George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band as post-Beatles masterpieces. 

Three songs from Band on the Run appear on this list. But it’s not the only place to find Wings’ magic.

5. “Let Me Roll It” (1973)

“Let Me Roll It” sounds like a John Lennon song. The vocal, recorded with tape echo, and the guitar riff are pure Lennon, though McCartney denies it was his intention. The song was a B-side to “Jet,” and like most of the songs on Band on the Run, McCartney performs all the instruments.  

I want to tell you
And now’s the time
I want to tell you that
You’re going to be mine
I can’t tell you how I feel
My heart is like a wheel
Let me roll it
Let me roll it to you

4. “Jet” (1973)

Band on the Run was recorded mostly in Nigeria. But “Jet” was recorded in London at Abbey Road and released as the album’s lead single. Various claims have been made about the song’s title. The McCartney’s owned a pony named Jet. But David Bowie’s “Suffragette City” could also have provided inspiration for “Jet.”

Jet, I can almost remember their funny faces
That time you told them you were going to be marrying soon
And Jet, I thought the only lonely place was on the moon
Jet, was your father as bold as a sergeant major
How come he told you that you were hardly old enough yet
And Jet I thought the major was a lady suffragette

3. “Live and Let Die” (1973)

McCartney wrote “Live and Let Die” for the 1973 James Bond film, the first to star Roger Moore in the lead role. McCartney was approached by the film’s producers to write a new Bond theme. He asked for a copy of Ian Fleming’s novel from which the movie is based, read it, and a week later recorded the song. McCartney said it was hard work writing a song based on a title.

When you were young and your heart was an open book
You used to say live and let live
(You know you did; you know you did; you know you did)
But if this ever-changing world in which we live in
Makes you give in and cry
Say live and let die (Live and let die)
Live and let die (Live and let die)

2. “Band on the Run” (1973)

A three-part medley, “Band on the Run” features McCartney playing nearly every instrument. The lyric if we ever get out of here was a reference to something George Harrison said at a tense meeting between The Beatles and their record label, Apple. It was the title track to Wings’ third album. While recording in Lagos, Nigeria, McCartney and the band were mugged and gave up the original demo of “Band on the Run.” Wings persevered and tracked—from memory—the first two parts of the song in Lagos. Part three was finished at AIR Studios in London. 

If I ever get out of here
Thought of giving it all away
To a registered charity
All I need is a pint a day
If I ever get outta here
If we ever get outta of here

1. “Maybe I’m Amazed (Live)” (1976)

“Maybe I’m Amazed” is one of Paul McCartney’s best songs. It is every bit as good as “Yesterday” and that’s not hyperbole. Depressed and creatively lost after The Beatles broke up, McCartney set up a home studio and began writing what would become his first solo album, McCartney. For “Maybe I’m Amazed,” he entered Abbey Road to complete the track. It wasn’t released as a single until a live version appeared on Wings over America in 1976. The live version was a U.S. Top 10 hit. 

Maybe I’m amazed at the way you love me all the time
Maybe I’m afraid of the way I love you
Maybe I’m amazed at the way you pulled me out of time
You hung me on a line
Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you

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

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