Paul McCartney’s 10 Best Songs

For over 50 years, Macca has marched to the beat of his own drum -- here are his best moments

Paul McCartney Best Songs
© 2011 Mary McCartney

    This article originally ran in 2013 and has been updated to celebrate Paul McCartney’s birthday on June 18th.

    Paul McCartney once said, “It’s hard to follow my own act. But the only answer to that would be to give up after the Beatles. I only had two alternatives. Give up or carry on.”

    Macca carried on alright, and decades later, Sir Paul has headlined all major music festivals, teamed up with everyone from Nirvana to Kanye, and toured the globe a dozen times over.


    For 50 years, he’s marched to the beat of his own drum. In honor of Macca’s 80th birthday on June 18th, 2022 we bring you the 10 best tracks that are all his. No Beatles, no Wings, just McCartney.

    10. “Vanilla Sky”

    Album: Music From Vanilla Sky (2001)

    As the final credits of Cameron Crowe’s 2001 film Vanilla Sky begin to roll, McCartney’s comforting acoustic guitar and a light tap ease the viewer from two-plus hours of mind-boggling romantic sci-fi back into the real world. Cameron asked the Beatle to pen a song for the movie, and after seeing footage, McCartney wrote this simple but lovely title track for the film’s Academy Award-nominated soundtrack, where it shines bright alongside juggernauts like Sigur Rós, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, and Bob Dylan. — Amanda Koellner

    09. “Coming Up”


    Album: McCartney II (1980)

    Kicking off McCartney II, Macca’s first solo album since he formed Wings in 1971, “Coming Up” remains one of his most danceable tracks to date, featuring funky guitar riffs and a spicy horn section. His voice is purposely distorted, outlined by a soulful falsetto that bridges in some vocal eclecticism. It isn’t surprising that John Lennon liked the song so much that it prompted him out of retirement. — Josh Terry

    08. “My Brave Face”

    Album: Flowers in the Dirt (1989)

    Co-written with Elvis Costello, “My Brave Face” opens Macca’s 1989 return-to-form album Flowers in the Dirt. Thanks to some weighty production, it’s an arena rock song through and through, stomping around with a boot’s worth of studio flourishes. Layered with infectious harmonies, the song keeps light and bouncing despite McCartney singing “now that I’m alone again/ I can’t stop breaking down again.” — Josh Terry

    07. “Another Day”

    Album: “Another Day” single (1970)

    Apparently “Eleanor Rigby” wasn’t enough to get writing about lonely women out of McCartney’s system. “Another Day” is what it sounds like — the plain story of a woman putting on her stockings, drinking coffee, going to work. She leads an unremarkable life and she knows it. McCartney brings his light touch to the telling of her sadness.  — Erin Carson

    06. “Dear Boy”


    Album: Ram (1971)

    Though critics originally panned Ram, his 1971 collaboration with his late wife Linda McCartney, it’s undergone a deserved critical reevaluation. Among its many fantastic tracks, the standout “Dear Boy” highlights Macca’s near-unparalleled knack for melodies. It clocks in at just a little over two minutes, which is pretty much the only thing wrong with it. — Josh Terry

    05. “The World Tonight”

    Album: Flaming Pie (1997)

    Ah, McCartney in the ’90s. He starts off a bit reserved on the rollicking 1997 track, but when he eventually growls, “I go back so far/ I’m in front of me,” he sounds like he does when he revisits “Helter Skelter” in concert today. He’s giving it all he’s got and having a damn good time doing it, which makes it a damn shame this isn’t in his current live repertoire. Fun fact: The song shares the title of the documentary he released the same year, which offered a glimpse into his recording process. –Amanda Koellner

    04. “Here Today”

    Album: Tug of War (1982)

    Roughly two years after Lennon’s death, McCartney wrote a tribute to his fallen bandmate. The song was simple– an imaginary conversation with scattered reminiscences. While it’s striking to get tiny glimpses into Lennon and McCartney’s relationship — the time the time they laughed, the time they cried, the first moments they met — the real peak of the song’s intimacy comes from McCartney’s straightforward statement to his friend, “I love you.” — Erin Carson

    03. “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey”

    Album: Ram (1971)

    During this nearly five-minute track, we hear a thunderstorm, a telephone, an answering machine, and chirping birds. About two-and-a-half minutes into the effects-heavy song, it picks up into a catchy sing-along as Paul and Linda sing, “Hands across the water/ Heads across the sky.” A flugelhorn and and orchestral assistance fill out the song, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971. — Amanda Koellner

    02. “Every Night”


    Album: McCartney (1970)

    Ever the romantic, McCartney sings about staying in with wife Linda. According to PopMatters, the song came about after Linda encouraged him to start working on his own music in the rough days after the Beatles split. He acknowledges his darker moments but couples it with love for his wife, and in a characteristically McCartney style, arranges it as an uncomplicated little ditty. — Erin Carson

    01. “Maybe I’m Amazed”

    Album: McCartney (1970)

    Probably Macca’s most recognizable solo number, “Maybe I’m Amazed” was written right after the Beatles disbanded in 1969. It was a tumultuous time for McCartney, one that he admits he couldn’t have gotten through without Linda, his wife. It’s an iconic love song, performed with the same honest passion found on “Hey Jude.”

    Having been covered by The Faces, Jem, and Dave Grohl, the track was even referenced in a season three episode of The Simpsons, where McCartney guest-starred and jokingly told Lisa Simpson, “If you play ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ backwards, you’ll hear a recipe for a really ripping lentil soup.” –Josh Terry


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