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Note: This isn’t in any sense a complete list, or a selection of his greatest songs, as we’d need far more than ten choices. You could live your life by almost any Paul McCartney melody, even “Silly Love Songs.”
Which brings us to our first choice:
“All day long I’m sitting singing songs for everyone” – “Mother Nature’s Son”
A beatific Beatledream, and one which few people would turn down, given the address of the McCartney meadow in which it is happening.
“But to love her is to need her everywhere, knowing that love is to share” – “Here, There and Everywhere”
A statement of amorous generosity which is all the more startling given that it was written at the same time he was knocking out angry odes to Jane Asher (“I’m Looking Through You,” “We Can Work It Out”) and her desire to have a career of her own. Young love, eh?
“I’m taking the time for a number of things that weren’t important yesterday”- “Fixing A Hole”
While the rest of the world was gorging itself floppy on a mantra of “turn on, tune in, drop out,” Paul was considering practical matters, and making this sound like the most cosmic thing in the world.
“For well you know that it’s a fool that plays it cool by making his world a little colder” – “Hey Jude”
John Lennon always felt that this was a song of support towards his new relationship with Yoko Ono. And yet this line seems to have gone over his head, specifically with regard to the feelings of his former songwriting BFF.
“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me; speaking words of wisdom – ‘let it be’” – “Let It Be”
Based on an actual event in Paul’s life. The times of trouble being the constant bickering in Camp Beatle, after the death of their manager Brian Epstein. A dream about his mum, Mary McCartney, who died when he was 14, inspired a song suggesting that all would be well if people could just stop sweating the small stuff. The sad fact is that none of the Beatles, Paul included, paid the slightest attention to this idea.
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” – “The End”
And there’s your ’60s dream wrapped up in one easily digestible phrase. And they say Lennon was the wordsmith…
“I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love” – “Can’t Buy Me Love”
“‘Buy! Buy!’ says the sign in the shop window. ‘Why? Why?’ says the junk in the yard” – “Junk”
Two lines from two different songs, both suggesting that things and cash aren’t as important as people and feelings. For extra depth, play the latter on your soon-to-be-outmoded smartphone, or worse, a MiniDisc.
“What if it rained? We didn’t care. She said that someday soon the sun was gonna shine.” – “My Valentine”
Ever the optimist, Sir Paul, on his third wife, past retirement age but still some distance from his dotage, turns in this delightful ode to his new wife Nancy. Even after all these years he’s STILL singing “Good Day Sunshine,” and long may he continue.
…and of course, the most relevant line of all:
“I’m glad it’s your birthday! Happy birthday to you!” – “Birthday”
What’s your favorite McCartney lyric? Tell us here:
Note: if anyone mentions the grammar of “in this ever-changing world in which we live in,” I suggest checking out the actual lyric sheet to “Live And Let Die.” It turns out you’re wrong.
Celebrate the Beatles with the premiere of Discovering Lennon, Tuesday, June 19th at 9/8c
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic