Paul McCartney’s 5 Most Heartfelt Songs About Love and Relationships

What’s wrong with that? Paul McCartney once asked that question about the ubiquity of “Silly Love Songs.” Well, there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when those songs are coming from McCartney’s tried-and-true songwriting pen. Very few artists have written about love as much as Macca, nor have they done so in such earnest, open-hearted fashion. Narrowing down his most heartfelt songs about love and relationships, from his time with The Beatles through Wings to his solo work, required pruning several songs that many consider masterpieces. Let’s take a look at our choices, which include a couple of evergreens and a few that might be a bit under the radar.

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1. ”Here, There and Everywhere” (by The Beatles, from the album Revolver, 1966)

John Lennon’s penchant for sleeping in came in handy one day when McCartney, waiting for his songwriting partner to awake from his slumber, decided to go ahead and write a song in the meantime. The resulting song, “Here, There and Everywhere” is one of the most staggeringly beautiful in the history of rock. McCartney was influenced by Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys ballads, as evidenced by the high-rising melody that pushes his vocal into falsetto range. The song talks about both the comfort gathered from being sure about your choice of romantic partner, and the subsequent feeling that you’re never quite whole unless you’re in the presence of that person. Along with Lennon’s “In My Life” and George Harrison’s “Something,” it stands tall among Beatle love ballads.

2. “My Love” (by Paul McCartney and Wings, from the album Red Rose Speedway, 1973)

There have been critics over the years who have quibbled with the simplicity of the lyrics to this McCartney classic. The argument against that would be to say that with a melody this beautiful, more complex words would only get in the way. Anyway, the lyrics to “My Love” convey just what needs to be said here, that the narrator’s love is a safe haven and consolation in any situation. It features some of McCartney’s most moving vocals, and there’s also that guitar solo. Macca had constructed how he wanted the solo to sound when young guitarist Henry McCulloch asked him if he could try something else. In one take, McCulloch nailed the part that’s the lush icing on an already delicious cake.

3. “I’m Carrying” (by Wings, from the album London Town, 1978)

Here’s an unheralded track from an underrated Wings release. As is the case with every song on the list, the melody that McCartney concocted is astounding. It’s almost a lullaby, and yet it manages to capture the narrator’s anticipation and vulnerability all at once. This is also a song where McCartney leaves us guessing at what exactly is going on, and filling in the blanks is a great part of its allure. We know that the narrator is returning to his love with packages (and a carnation) in tow, and we know he feels a bit insecure about how he might come off when she sees him again after their time apart. What is he carrying exactly? An engagement ring? Maybe. A major torch for this woman? Most definitely.

4. “Only Love Remains” (by Paul McCartney, from the album Press to Play, 1986)

We’ve seen several McCartney post-Beatle albums eventually get a critical reappraisal after initially being somewhat dismissed. That hasn’t really happened yet for Press to Play. Maybe when it does, this gorgeous, atmospheric ballad will get the appreciation it deserves. At the time of its release, it only made a dent on Adult Contemporary radio. And maybe that’s apropos because this is indeed a love song that is best appreciated by those who have been in a relationship for a long stretch of time. It’s about how long-held feelings seem to intensify over time, creating a kind of panic for those who have them and want to hold tight to them. McCartney also expresses the comfort that comes in knowing that, when all is said and done, being able to love someone and have them reciprocate means more than anything.

5. “Calico Skies” (by Paul McCartney, from the album Flaming Pie, 1997)

It was written that I would love you / From the moment I opened my eyes. So begins this beautiful, folk-inspired track with just Macca on acoustic guitar and vocal (and co-produced by his old Beatles buddy George Martin). Anyone with even a passing knowledge of McCartney’s life and times could probably tell from the emotional lyrics and the warmth in his vocals that the object of the song is Linda McCartney. Sadly, the couple’s wonderful life together would end just a year after the release of “Calico Skies,” when Linda passed away after a long battle with cancer. This moving track tells you all you need to know about their special romance.

Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage

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