‘Silly Love Songs’ was the lead single released from Wings’ fifth studio album Wings At The Speed Of Sound.

There were accusations in the mid-1970s – including one from John – that I was just writing ‘silly love songs’. I suppose the idea was that I should be a bit tougher, a bit more worldly. But then I suddenly realised, that’s exactly what love is – it’s worldly. ‘Some people want to fill the world/With silly love songs’. I’d been given that reputation, and I had to stand up for it. Instead of abandoning songs about love, just get on with it, get into it and don’t be embarrassed, because even thought you might say this is a soppy subject, it’s actually the opposite: this thing people can feel for each other that makes life better. I think that’s the crux of it, and if you want to be cynical, it’s easy, you can. ‘Love doesn’t come in a minute/Sometimes it doesn’t come at all’. I think a lot of people who are cynical about love haven’t been lucky enough to feel it.

The song was written by Paul McCartney in Hawaii during a holiday. It was purposefully recorded with prominent bass guitar.

That is the bass in your face. And that was really just because we were making a dance record on purpose. I had been accused around that time of singing too much about love. I said, ‘Hey, wait a minute! It’s the best thing!’ Love definitely beats hate, and it’s definitely kind of cool, at least in my book. But it can be perceived as sort of soppy. So I wrote this song, and asked, ‘What’s wrong with silly love songs?’ I wrote it out on holiday in Hawaii; I just had piano and chords, and I then wanted to have a melody on bass. We really pushed the bass and drums right out front. But it drove the song along quite nicely. Pushed it hard. We wanted to make something you could dance to, so you had to.
Paul McCartney
Guitar, July 1990

In the studio

The backing track for ‘Silly Love Songs’ was recorded on 16 January 1976 at Abbey Road Studios. Initially it had Paul McCartney on piano and guide vocals, and Joe English on drums.

Present at the session was US reporter Barbara Charone, who witnessed its change from demo to full production.

Gathered round a small cassette recorder, Paul and Linda McCartney intently listen to their at-home voices build each other. Occasionally tapping a foot to the lazy beat, Linda sways while lending additional harmonic support. Paul mentally rewrites the song, changing bits as the cassette gathers speed, visions of the final vinyl product dancing in his head…

As the basic rhythm track is still being perfected, Linda joins the rest of Wings upstairs in the control room, peering down from the glass partition victoriously every time a particularly good take is reached. Guitarists Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch scan newspapers on control room couches, apprehensively awaiting recording time. Downstairs in the studio, McCartney sits at the piano, leans into the microphone and begins to sing a song that differs greatly from the scratchy tune that had come out of those small cassette speakers minutes before. Coaching English on several takes, McCartney joyously shouts encouraging instructions to his drummer over a practice vocal. ‘Latin beat in four bars,’ McCartney energetically instructs. As the song begins to blossom, Denny and Linda add imaginary harmonies to the tune. In just over an hour, the song has changed considerably.

Barbara Charone
Sounds, 3 April 1976

Further overdubs, including strings and horns, were added in February 1976. The orchestra was co-arranged by Tony Dorsey and conducted by McCartney.

Paul has absolute control of all of his music. I think he basically likes to have have someone to critique his work to reassure him. Occasionally he would come to me and say, ‘I need horns here, but I have no idea, so give me your best shot.’ Or, like on ‘Silly Love Songs’, he knew exactly what he wanted from the horns but had no idea what he wanted from the strings.
Tony Dorsey
Wings At The Speed Of Sound Deluxe Edition

Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for Silly Love Songs

McCartney re-recorded ‘Silly Love Songs’ in 1983 for the film Give My Regards To Broad Street. The soundtrack album contains the song plus an instrumental reprise, sequenced back to back.

‘No More Lonely Nights’ was issued as a single ahead of the album, and reached number six in the US and number two in the UK. Different versions were released on 7″, 12″ and 12″ picture disc in both countries, containing a variety of mixes of the song as well as the album’s re-recording of ‘Silly Love Songs’.

In the film this is the second big studio number which we made as if for a video. Really we just wanted to use the opportunity of being in a studio to dress up. The story for the film was that we were on a planet and we were a little music box that appears every day, plays a song and disappears.
Paul McCartney
Give My Regards To Broad Street book, 1984

The release

‘Silly Love Songs’ was first released as the sixth song on Wings At The Speed Of Sound. The album was issued on 22 March 1976 in the USA, and four days later in the UK.

On 23 March Wings performed at the Deutschlandhalle in West Berlin. The band was photographed by the Berlin Wall holding a banner on which ‘SILLY LOVE SONGS’ was written.

‘Silly Love Songs’ was released as a single in the USA on 1 April 1976, with ‘Cook Of The House’ on the b-side. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five non-consecutive weeks, and became the magazine’s number 1 song in the year-end charts.

The single also topped the charts in Canada and Ireland. In the UK it was released on 30 April, and reached number two on the singles chart.

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

Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for Silly Love Songs

Live performances

‘Silly Love Songs’ was performed during the Wings Over The World Tour in 1976.

A performance from 25 May 1976 at New York’s Madison Square Garden was released later that year on the live album Wings Over America.

Despite the strong response to the song, following the tour McCartney never performed the song again live.

The point is that most people don’t tend to show their emotions unless they are in private, but deep down, people are emotional, and all I’m really saying in this song is, ‘Love isn’t silly at all’.

Previous song: ‘Wino Junko’
Next song: ‘Cook Of The House’
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