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Paul McCartney’s 40 Greatest Solo Songs

The definitive guide to his post-Beatles best – chart smashes, psychedelic curiosities, punk, folk, disco and plenty of silly love songs

“I’m proud of the Beatle thing,” Paul McCartney told Rolling Stone in 1978. “It was great, and I can go along with all the people you meet on the street who say you gave so much happiness to so many people. I don’t think that’s corny.” Even though it was Paul’s 1970 solo debut that marked the end of the Beatles, it was Paul’s post-Beatle career that was truest to the band’s world-hugging, happiness-spreading vision, as he channeled his own changing inspirations and desires into beloved hits like “Baby I’m Amazed,” “Jet” and “Band on the Run,” as well as genius obscurities like “Monkberry Moon Delight.” Our ranking of his 40 greatest solo songs is sure to start some arguments (his banned stoner-anthem rocker “Hi, Hi, Hi” makes the top 10 and his radio-dominating global smash “My Love” isn’t here at all), and the picks run from pop to folk to punk and disco and beyond, as well as a few silly love songs – some of the greatest of all time, in fact. 

40 Greatest Paul McCartney Songs
24

“Hope of Deliverance”

“It’s an international message with a Latin American flavor,” McCartney said of this uplifting anthem, where he trades Spanish guitar solos with Robbie McIntosh over syncopated rhythms, with a first-take immediacy. It wasn’t a hit in the U.S. — but it was huge in post–Cold War Eastern Europe, where its optimism had fresh, deep resonance.

40 Greatest Paul McCartney Songs
23

“Listen to What the Man Said”

It wasn’t quite “The Hustle,” but “Listen to What the Man Said” — with its silky, seductive groove spotlighting session pro Tom Scott’s zesty sax — proved that McCartney would have no trouble fitting into the dawning disco age. “‘The Man’ could mean God, it could mean many things,” he said. “It’s a good summer single.”

40 Greatest Paul McCartney Songs
22

“Monkberry Moon Delight”

An ominous late-night fantasy: Over a hard-chugging piano riff, McCartney wails about getting loony under some exotic influence, with “a piano up my nose.” “It’s like abstract painting,” he told RS. “People go, ‘Wow – is that cocaine?’ And I go, ‘No. It’s a piano up his nose. Haven’t you ever seen surrealist paintings?'”

40 Greatest Paul McCartney Songs
21

“You Gave Me the Answer”

When McCartney asks, “Shall we dance?” it’s hard to say no. “You Gave Me the Answer” is his return to the old-timey music-hall vibe of “Honey Pie” and “Your Mother Should Know,” with soft-shoe crooning worthy of Rudy Vallee: “You gave me the answer to love eternally/I love you, and you – you seem to like me!”