Post-Beatles, McCartney’s solo, and Wings catalog started filling up with more loving hits like “Maybe I’m Amazed” and Red Rose Speedway single “My Love.” Eventually, Macca started to get some criticism for his soppier songwriting. “Over the years people have said, ‘Aw, he sings love songs,’” said Paul McCartney. “‘He writes love songs. He’s so soppy at times… Well, I know what they mean, but, people have been doing love songs forever. I like ’em. Other people like ’em, and there’s a lot of people I love. I’m lucky enough to have that in my life. So the idea was that ‘you’ may call them silly, but what’s wrong with that?”
As a rebuttal to all the love song “haters”—even John Lennon—McCartney wrote “Silly Love Songs” and released it as the lead single off Wings’ fifth album Wings at the Speed of Sound.
You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs
But I look around me
And I see it isn’t so
Some people want to fill the world
With silly love songs
And what’s wrong with that?
I’d like to know
Cos here I go again
In Defense of “Love Songs”
Lennon was very outspoken about McCartney’s music, and when he dismissed Paul for writing mostly “silly love songs,” McCartney responded by writing more of them.
“The fact is, deep down, people are very sentimental,” added McCartney. “If they watch a sentimental movie at home, they cry, but in public, they won’t. We don’t like to show our emotions; we tend to sneer at that. And in the same way, people may not admit to liking love songs, but that’s what they seem to crave.”
The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows”
The Brian Wilson-penned 1966 Beach Boys’ hit “God Only Knows” is McCartney’s favorite song, and “Silly Love Songs” has subtle references to it, sonically, with the multi-vocal parts and a horn section.
Like many of McCartney’s more love-filled tracks, “Silly Love Songs” had a deeper meaning and the lyrics ultimately reveal a love song from Paul to his wife Linda, who also appears in the video.
“I’m looking at love not from the perspective of ‘boring old love,’” said McCartney, elaborating on the meaning behind his love songs. “I’m looking at it like when you get married and have a baby. That’s pretty strong: it’s something deeper. For me, that’s what always makes me write the next love song– that I love it. I don’t mind being sentimental, I love the old movies. I’ve never been too ashamed of all that stuff.”
Ah, I can’t explain
The feeling’s plain to me
Now can’t you see?
Ah, she gave me more
She gave it all to me
Now can’t you see?
What’s wrong with that?
I need to know
Cos here I go again
“Silly Love Songs” marked McCartney’s 27th number one as a songwriter, a record for the most No. 1 hits by a songwriter. The song peaked at the No. 1 on the Hot 100, where it remained for five weeks, and also made McCartney the first artist with year-end No. 1 hits with two separate acts—The Beatles and Wings.
“Silly Love Songs” Last
Wings recorded “Silly Love Songs” live for their triple live album, Wings Over America, and in 1984 Paul McCartney re-recorded “Silly Love Songs” for the soundtrack to the Peter Webb-directed British drama Give My Regards to Broad Street, also starring the McCartney’s and Ringo Starr. Despite the popularity of the song, McCartney has never played it live since Wings ended in 1981.
Love doesn’t come in a minute
Sometimes it doesn’t come at all
I only know that when I’m in it
It isn’t silly, no, it isn’t silly
Love isn’t silly at all
Not So “Soppy” Now
“The song was, in a way, to answer people who just accuse me of being soppy,” said McCartney. “The nice payoff now is that a lot of the people I meet who are at the age where they’ve just got a couple of kids and have grown up a bit, settling down, they’ll say to me, ‘I thought you were really soppy for years, but I get it now. I see what you were doing.’”
Photo: Barry Lategan / Nasty Little Man PR