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The 12 Weirdest Paul McCartney Songs

Explore the mad-genius side of the silly-love songsmith

Paul McCartney weirdest songs

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Paul McCartney has long been pilloried as a writer of silly love songs: a master of melody, sure, but not forward-thinking, let alone radical. However, while John Lennon got most of the credit for the Beatles’ sonic experiments, McCartney has always had a mad-genius side of his own. Even “Silly Love Songs” begins with a clanking industrial beat. Don’t believe us? Check out 12 of Sir Paul’s weirdest tracks below.

(See Rolling Stone’s definitive ranking of McCartney’s 40 greatest solo songs here.)

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“Kreen-Akrore” (1970)

The last track on McCartney’s solo debut is a four-minute instrumental named after an indigenous Amazon tribe. It’s garnished with some guitars, bird calls, and a splash of vocal harmony, but it’s mostly McCartney playing the drums. The drum solos are why everyone likes his albums, right?

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“Check My Machine” (1980)

With Wings on the verge of breaking up, McCartney went to his Scottish farm and messed around in his home studio, making a slew of songs heavy on synthesizers and sonic experimentation that would become McCartney II. This was the first one of the batch, although it was ultimately relegated to a B-side. It starts with sampled voices and moves on to a loping reggae beat, with McCartney manipulating the pitch of his own voice until he almost sounds like a Chipmunk.

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“Wild Honey Pie” (1968)

The Beatles’ records are chockablock with sonic experiments that have become utterly familiar over the decades – for example, backing McCartney’s “Yesterday” with a string quartet. This one-minute White Album track still sounds bizarre, though. McCartney remembered, “I just made up this short piece and I multitracked a harmony to that, and a harmony to that, and a harmony to that, and built it up sculpturally with a lot of vibrato on the strings, really pulling the strings madly.”

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“Mary Had a Little Lamb” (1972)

Really – Paul McCartney and Wings released their own version of this nursery rhyme. As a single. Opinions differ on whether they were sincerely trying to make rock music for kids, protesting BBC censorship, or just yanking our chains.

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“Thrillington” (1977)

After making Ram, McCartney recorded a big-band instrumental version of the entire album – but didn’t release it until six years later, under the pseudonym of Percy “Thrills” Thrillington. A press release described its alleged creator as “a puzzle and so far no one has all the pieces.” McCartney kept Thrillington’s actual identity secret until 1989, when he spilled the beans at a press conference. “Now the world knows!” he told his interrogator. “You blew it!”

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“Temporary Secretary” (1980)

An insane highlight of McCartney II. It’s got a classic McCartney melody and lyric – set over bleeping music that could be drawn from an 8-bit Nintendo game. It sounds like McCartney is trying to simultaneously invent drum and bass and They Might Be Giants.

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“Nod Your Head” (2007)

The final track on Memory Almost Full crams in a psychedelic groove, skronking guitar, orchestral bursts and drone assaults – and gets it all done in less than two minutes.

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“Famous Groupies” (1978)

The sound of this track, from the Wings album London Town, is straightforward – midtempo rock built around an acoustic guitar. And most of the lyrics are just silly. The way the song gets its passport stamped for Bizarroland is the monologue at the end: “Ladies and gentlemen, those magnificent examples of female pulchritude and luminosity, direct from their global perambulations to the very boards of this supremely magnificent proscenium arch – ladies and gentlemen, I give you famous groupies!”

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“Loup (1st Indian on the Moon)” (1973)

Macca goes Laser Floyd. This trippy instrumental suite from Red Rose Speedway feels like a man drowning in an ocean after midnight with only a bassline to save him.

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“Free Now” (2000)

McCartney has made three electronic albums as the Fireman, in collaboration with Youth (former bassist for Killing Joke). But the Liverpool Sound Collage record, which cuts up samples of the Beatles, Super Furry Animals and random Liverpudlian pedestrians, might be the best and strangest of the bunch. With strangled vocals, a relentless groove and random noises, “Free Now” sounds like a transmission from another planet.

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“All You Horseriders” (2011)

“Let’s go for a ride!” Incredibly, some material was just too weird for McCartney II. This track, best described as synthesizer cow-punk, was left off the album (although it resurfaced decades later as a bonus track).

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“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” (1971)

You may have grown accustomed to it over the years, but this is one of the strangest Number One singles ever made. It includes vocals that sound like they were recorded over a policeman’s bullhorn, a flugelhorn solo, about five different sections jammed together, and that freaky “be a gypsy get around” coda. But McCartney’s gift for melody is so powerful, he makes it work, and the world sings along.

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