You Gave Me The Answer - Writing Solo Songs
April 2020 marked 50 years since Paul’s album McCartney was released, a record which went on to be hailed as one of the greatest debut solo rock albums of all time. Released one month before the Beatles’ Let It Be, it was Paul’s first experience of writing every song and playing every instrument on an album himself – a truly solo endeavour.
Following a limited edition 50th anniversary release for Record Store Day recently (find out more about this here!) we’ve been thinking about that special first album, and keen to know more about Paul’s solo songwriting process.
So, when Sammy got in touch with a question for Paul on Twitter, we were curious to find out too: is writing solo songs any different than it was when you were writing in The Beatles and Wings?
Paul: Yeah, it is different when you’re writing with someone. Particularly with John, who I did most of my collaborations with, it was a completely different ball game because we were working off each other. Often one of us would say a line, and then - it was like it was a joke - the other one would say the next bit!
It became quite conversational. I'd write ‘it's getting better all the time‘ and then John would go, ‘it couldn't get much worse!’ You’re spinning each other through the song, and so that process is interesting. In fact, I think it makes it a bit easier, because if you’re stuck then hopefully the other person isn’t, and if they’re stuck hopefully you can help them out of it. So, it's a pretty good way of working.
Working on your own isn't quite as easy, but it’s something different altogether. It’s more like writing a novel. You do the opposite of sitting in a room with someone; you go off as far as you can, into the quietest part of the house when no one can hear you and no one can see you, hiding away under the staircase or something, until you're very much in your own thoughts. It can make something that turns out better, really.
But yes, it's not as easy. It's all on you, whereas when you’re collaborating with someone, that's on you both and you can help each other out. I think good songs can come from both methods.
Have you ever tried writing songs with a friend? Have you tried writing songs completely solo? And, if you haven’t attempted either, why not give it a go? You can find more songwriting insights from Paul right here on PaulMcCartney.com - check out Paul’s thoughts on song titles here, as well as his thoughts on chords here!