Love songs aren't the only silly songs, though. Over the course of his storied career, McCartney has indulged nearly every artistic impulse, from forays into classical music to avant-garde alterna-rock with The Fireman.
In preparation for McCartney's show at Jobing.com Arena this weekend, Craig Outhier counted down Paul's worst songs in this week's print issue, but here we're going a different direction: Spotlighting tunes where McCartney does what he does best: cut loose and act like a crazy man. Here's five songs from McCartney's post-Beatles catalog that are utterly silly, in the best way.
5. "Smile Away" from Ram (1971)
Over a supremely hokey blues progression, Macca gets truly weird, yaking about a buddy smelling his teeth and feet while Linda "ba-ba-bahs" in the background. Then Paul lets some nasty guitar rip. Though he's often seen as the "professional" Beatle, Ram finds McCartney coked out of his brain, cranking out a crazed, home-recorded pop album from his woodland farm. Bedroom rockers, take note.
4. "Say, Say, Say" (featuring Michael Jackson) from Pipes of Peace (1983)
Forget about Michael Jackson screwing McCartney over Beatles royalties, for a few minutes in 1983 they were simply two con men, pissing off the US National Coalition of Television Violence, which said the accompanying video was too violent to be aired. It's not particularly heavy fare; in fact, it makes "Simply Having (a Wonderful Christmastime)" sound like "Get Back," but it's hard not to embrace the song's inanity. Here are two incredible voices singing one fluffy, goofy tune.
3. "Jet" from Wings' Band on The Run (1973)
Supposedly inspired by Macca's Labrador, it's impossible to figure out exactly what he's singing about. Sergeant Majors, funny faces, lonely places on the moon -- certainly the whole thing made sense to McCartney, but who else has a clue? What is abundantly clear is the power McCartney unleashed under the Wings banner, layering pseudo-reggae guitars, vibrant synths, and excellent backing vocals. Maybe the lyrics equaled some head-scratching, but the jam itself was a surefire hit.
2. "Temporary Secretary" from McCartney II (1980)
McCartney II marked the return of McCartney as a solo artist, disbanding Wings after a drug bust. If "Temporary Secretary" is any indication of his head-space during this time, it was a far out place indeed. Taking cues from the burgeoning electronic scene and acts like Brian Eno and Kraftwerk, the song has little to offer pedestrian fans of Top 40 but establishes McCartney as the rare kind of superstar who isn't afraid to take chances, rattling off nonsensical temp agency requests over oscillating synths. This is not the kind of tune you'll hear on classic rock radio. This is ballsy and urgent. Thoroughly strange stuff.
1. "Monkberry Moon Delight" from Ram (1971)
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
While it almost feels cheap to include two songs from one album on a list devoted to someone with such a vast catalog as McCartney, it's simply unavoidable when the topic is kooky, offbeat tunes he's written. "Monkberry Moon Delight" is the best track on Ram, and if you ask me, one of the best songs McCartney has ever written. It's a slapstick spooky rave-up, with Paul's voice sounding positively shredded. Linda McCartney's awesome "don't get left behind" refrain is perfect, giving way to one of those trademark McCartney screams. It's easy to remember the man for stuff like "Yesterday," but songs like "Monkberry" remind you that Macca is a rock n' roller. With a vengeance.
As a bonus, I've included Screamin' Jay Hawkins drop-dead badass version of the song as well: