Top 10 Paul McCartney Songs

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10. "Let 'Em In" (1976)

Wings Let 'Em In
Wings - "Let 'Em In". Courtesy Capitol

"Let 'Em In" is another Paul McCartney song that seems simple at first and then slowly reveals its complexity.  The opening vibraphone tones are eight notes from the Westminster Quarters. It is followed by pounding piano gradually gives way to a fife and drum accompaniment before the shout outs to various friends, relatives and musical inspirations.  "Martin Luther" refers to a nickname for John Lennon, Phil and Don are the revered inspirations the Everly Brothers, and "Sister Suzie" is a reference to Linda McCartney's recording as Suzie and the Red Stripes. "Let 'Em In" reached #3 on the US pop singles chart and #2 in the UK. It went all the way to #1 on the adult contemporary chart and earned a gold certification for sales.

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9. "Goodnight Tonight" (1979)

Wings Goodnight Tonight
Wings - "Goodnight Tonight". Courtesy Columbia

Paul McCartney embraces disco on "Goodnight Tonight."  The arrangement includes flamenco guitar and the song was interpreted as a new take on early twentieth century popular music in the accompanying music video.  While the record is clearly disco, Paul McCartney manages to squeeze in rock guitar and Latin flourishes. The original version of "Goodnight Tonight" is seven minutes long and was released as a 12-inch disco single. An edited version was released as the official radio single. The song hit #5 on pop charts in both the US and UK.

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8. "Silly Love Songs" (1976)

Wings Silly Love Songs
Wings - "Silly Love Songs". Courtesy Capitol

This is Paul McCartney's musical response to criticisms that all he recorded as a solo artist was, "silly love songs."  The song features some of his best bass playing, a beat and orchestral elements influenced by early disco, and one of the catchiest choruses.  The intimate, layered production is deceptively complex but sounds effortless.  "Silly Love Songs" was a #1 pop smash and one of the biggest hits of Paul McCartney's post-Beatles career. Spending five weeks at the top, it ranked as the biggest pop hit of the year in the US in 1976. "Silly Love Songs" went to #2 on the UK pop singles chart.

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7. "Coming Up (Live In Glasgow)" (1980)

Paul McCartney Coming Up
Paul McCartney - "Coming Up". Courtesy Columbia

The studio version of "Coming Up" kicks off the album McCartney II, and it is a minimalist gem.  Paul McCartney played all the instruments and includes backup vocals from Linda McCartney along with studio effects like speeded up vocal tracks. The live version was recorded with Wings and has a relaxed feel with laser effects added for drama.  The result was a #1 pop smash when released as a single becoming one of the biggest hit live recordings ever.  John Lennon gave the song credit for encouraging him to come out of retirement and begin the recordings that resulted in the Double Fantasy album.  The accompanying music video, premiered on Saturday Night Live, is not to be missed. It features Paul McCartney playing ten different roles and Linda McCartney playing two. 

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6. "Jet" (1973)

Paul McCartney Wings Jet
Paul McCartney and Wings - "Jet". Courtesy Apple

Reportedly inspired by either a pony Paul McCartney had owned named "Jet" or his pet labrador retriever named "Jet," the actual meaning of the lyrics of the song remain obtuse.  Despite that, "Jet" is one of Paul McCartney's top recorded rock songs.  It kicks off with a gently rocking intro but soon rolls into all stops out rock.  The Australian band Jet adopted their name in admiration of the song. "Jet" is included on the Band On the Run album, but it was recorded in London instead of Lagos, Nigeria where most of the rest of the album was recorded. "Jet" reached #7 on both the US and UK pop singles charts.

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5. "Listen To What the Man Said" (1975)

Paul McCartney Wings Listen To What the Man Said
Paul McCartney and Wings - "Listen To What the Man Said". Courtesy Capitol

Jazz musician Tom Scott's soprano saxophone on "Listen To What the Man Said" is one of the most memorable instrumental performances on a Wings record.  This is one of the most effortless sounding Wings pop hits.  "Listen To What the Man Said" went to #1 in the US and was certified gold for sales.  The identity of "the man" is another one of the mysteries in Paul McCartney's song catalog. "Listen To What the Main Said" was recorded in New Orleans in the sessions that created the Venus and Mars album.

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4. "Live and Let Die" (1973)

Paul McCartney Wings Live and Let Die
Paul McCartney and Wings - "Live and Let Die". Courtesy Apple

Commissioned for the James Bond movie of the same name, "Live and Let Die" reunites Paul McCartney with Beatles producer George Martin.  The #2 pop hit single became the first James Bond theme to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.  "Live and Let Die" is best remembered for the drama of its movement from huge orchestral sections to slower ballad and reggae breaks and back again. James Bond film producer Harry Saltzman originally wanted to have either Shirley Bassey or Thelma Houston record the lead vocal, but Paul McCartney insisted that Wings be able to perform "Live and Let Die" over the opening credits or it could not be used in the film.

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3. "Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey" (1971)

Paul McCartney Linda McCartney Uncle Albert Admiral Halsey
Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney - "Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey". Courtesy Apple

The "Uncle Albert" mentioned in the song is inspired by Paul McCartney's uncle Albert Kendall.  Admiral Halsey is American Admiral William "Bull" Halsey. The song is notable for combining so many musically disparate elements.  It also includes sound effects such as a thunderstorm, watery echoes, and sea birds.  Linda McCartney does contribute backing vocals, but this is mostly a Paul McCartney solo record.  It became his first #1 post-Beatles pop hit in the US. Paul McCartney won a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists for the song. 

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2. "Maybe I'm Amazed (Live Version)" (1977)

Wings Maybe I'm Amazed
Wings - "Maybe I'm Amazed (Live Version)". Courtesy Capitol

The song "Maybe I'm Amazed" first appeared on Paul McCartney's debut solo album McCartney.  He wrote and recorded it as a tribute to his wife Linda McCartney and her support during the difficult times just preceding the final breakup of the Beatles.  The song is at its most impressive in the live recording from the Wings Over America collection.  You can hear Paul McCartney's passion in both his voice and the pounding of the piano.  This is one of the top pop love songs of all time. The live version of "Maybe I'm Amazed" reached the top 10 on the US pop chart. Paul McCartney has said that the song is the one he, "would like to be remembered for in the future."

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1. "Band On the Run" (1974)

Paul McCartney Band On the Run
Paul McCartney and Wings - "Band On the Run". Courtesy Apple

Paul McCartney's album Band On the Run, recorded in Lagos, Nigeria, was beset by a range of difficulties and ultimately became the work of a trio consisting of Paul McCartney, his wife Linda, and guitarist Denny Laine.  Nevertheless, it is widely recognized as his best post-Beatles work.  The song is a grand suite on the theme of escape.  Stellar moments include the melancholy intro and the orchestra buildup into a guitar break that almost sounds like 70s folk-pop group America. Reportedly, "Band On the Run" was partly inspired by a George Harrison comment made at a meeting of the Apple record label. The song soared to #1 on the US pop chart and #3 in the UK. It won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus.

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