Paul McCartney: “Every Night”
It makes sense that my favorite McCartney albums are the ones with the greatest proximity to the Beatles era, since he was still in a similar frame of mind to the way things were while he was with the Beatles. And a number of songs from the first two or three solo albums are ones that he wrote while still in the group, probably intended to be used as Beatles songs, but which never made it past the screening process. He’s had other good-to-almost-great albums in later years (Tug of War springs to mind), but nothing that really clicks with me the way his albums in the first 5 post-Beatles years do. Heck, I even like the widely panned debut Wings album, Wild Life.
Of all those, his 1970 debut solo album McCartney holds a special place in my heart. It seems so simple and effortless, full of a quaint charm that only Paul was capable of pulling off, without even trying. In my own attempts at songwriting and home recording, this album has always been a touchstone. There are a couple of throw-aways on the album, but even those I mostly enjoy. One of the more notable aspects of the album is that McCartney played every instrument on the album and recorded it entirely on his own — the best “bedroom” recording ever, in that respect (not that he sat on the edge of his bed in front of a 4-track cassette recorder to record this, of course — his resources allowed for considerably better studio conditions). If McCartney wasn’t as nearly great on guitar and drums as he is on bass, this might be even more remarkable, but with his great musicianship, it doesn’t come as that much of a surprise. (And that brings to mind one of my favorite Beatles quotes, when John Lennon supposedly replied to the question of whether he thought Ringo was the best drummer in the world: “He’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles!” — in reference to Paul’s own drumming skills, having filled in on drums on a number of Beatles recordings, particularly on The White Album).
My favorite track on McCartney is “Every Night.” It epitomizes what is so great about the entire album, and would have made a fantastic Beatles song as well. It’s laid back, full of great acoustic strumming and Paul’s great vocals. He made it seem so easy, but there are few songwriters with the knack for melody to have made such a beautifully simple song as this one. “Every Night” is a song I never grow tired of hearing.