‘Goodnight Tonight’ was a standalone single released by Wings in March 1979.

When I was writing ‘Goodnight Tonight’, I was basically just trying to write a dance record. I would call it a disco record because I wrote it after going to a disco one night. I had listened to everything that night that was going down and went away with that kind of thing in my mind and I happened to write that particular tune. I was just thinking of dance records.
Paul McCartney, 1979
The Beatles: The Dream Is Over – Off The Record 2, Keith Badman

In the studio

The instrumental backing track was recorded by McCartney, working alone, on 6 February 1978. The session took place at Abbey Road Studios with Geoff Emerick engineering.

The initial take was over seven minutes long. McCartney based the track on a Latin rhythm from a drum machine, but later replaced the synthetic beats with acoustic drums.

That was all based round some rhythm. I do like dance records: when you listen to records, you’re often down a club and want to dance with someone – I like dancin’, actually!
Paul McCartney
Club Sandwich, Spring 1988

The track languished for nearly a year until it was revived by Wings during sessions at Replica Studios in the basement of MPL on London’s Soho Square.

The recordings took place from 23 January to 9 February 1979, and featured a range of overdubs by the band including Laurence Juber’s flamenco-style guitar parts.

Paul’s recording was unfinished, so we did some work on it in January 1979 at Replica Studio in the basement of the MPL Soho office in London. Denny and I did some electric parts echoing Paul’s existing lead guitar. I don’t remember who suggested the acoustic lead break, but the Spanish flavour was an obvious choice. I didn’t have an acoustic guitar with me, so I used Denny’s Ovasion Adamas guitar – it was very quick, a one-take flamenco flourish!
Laurence Juber
Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas (1970-1989), Luca Perasi

‘Goodnight Tonight’ was performed during Wings’ British Tour in 1979.

McCartney performed it on just one other occasion. On 8 September 2012 he appeared onstage with Africa Express at London’s Granary Square. He performed ‘Coming Up’ and ‘Goodnight Tonight’.

The release

Although worked on during the sessions for Wings’ final album Back To The Egg, ‘Goodnight Tonight’ was issued as a standalone single on 23 March 1979.

It was initially to have been the b-side of ‘Daytime Nighttime Suffering’, but the songs were switched prior to the release.

We had a meeting and decided that it would be nice to have a single while the TV show, Wings Over The World, was out, because it had been something like seven months since we’d put a record out. ‘Goodnight Tonight’ was going to be the b-side and ‘Daytime Nighttime Suffering’ was going to be the a-side. So we sat around for years, well it seemed like years, discussing it, you know, the normal soul-searching you go through, and we decided, ‘No, it isn’t all right. We won’t put it out.’ So we scrapped the whole thing and about a week later, I played the record again and I thought, ‘That’s crazy! We’ve made it. It’s stupid, why not put it out? Just because people are going to pan it.’ I liked it and other people had taken it home and played it to people at parties. So we decided to do it.
Paul McCartney
The Beatles: The Dream Is Over – Off The Record 2, Keith Badman

The song was issued on 7″ and 12″ singles. The latter contained ‘Goodnight Tonight’ (Long Version), which was the full length 7:15 version; the 7″ contained an edit. The b-side in both instances was ‘Daytime Nighttime Suffering’.

‘Goodnight Tonight’ reached number five on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart.

It’s like the disco version of ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’, only put more genteelly.
Paul McCartney
Billboard, 17 March 2001

The song was included on the compilations All The Best!, Wingspan: Hits and History, and Pure McCartney.

It was also included on the 1993 reissue of McCartney II, and the seven-minute version was sold on iTunes with Back To The Egg.

The video

On 3 April 1979 a promotional video for ‘Goodnight Tonight’ was shot at London’s Hammersmith Palais.

It was directed by Keith McMillan, and five different versions were filmed. The shoot began at 5:30am and ended at 4pm.

In the UK the video was shown on the BBC’s Top Of The Pops and on ITV on The Kenny Everett Video Show.

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