Song: "Maybe I'm Amazed"
Writer: Paul McCartney
Original Release: April 17, 1970
I have had a complicated relationship with Paul McCartney for most of my life. No, of course I've never met the man. But Sir Paul was a Beatle and that band has loomed large in my musical experience since I was 13 (story here).
When I first fell in love with the Beatles, I was all about Paul. He was the best-looking member, as confirmed by my older sister, and the one with the prettiest voice, as confirmed by Dad. What early teen doesn't wish above all things to be beautiful? But as I learned more about the Beatles story, particularly the break-up, my feelings toward Paul soured. I also never cared much for his solo work. While none of the ex-Beatles quite lived up to their own impossible standards after the split (nope, not even John), Paul's offerings especially tended toward the nauseatingly saccharine.
However, there is no denying McCartney's one supreme musical gift: melody. Without a doubt, he is the world's greatest living melodic composer and he has to be on a very short list with guys like Mozart, Beethoven and Rossini for the all-time crown. While his lyrics are frequently atrocious - "Live and Let Die," anyone? - his capacity for creating heart-rending tunes is astonishing: "Here, There and Everywhere," "Yesterday," "Let It Be," "My Love," "Blackbird," "Hey Jude" and seemingly on forever.
April 17, 1970 is a date of enormous significance in rock music history. With his first solo album, Paul sent a clear message to the adoring public: the Beatles were finished. Both John and George had already released solo work while the band was still a going concern but Paul had long been the one working hardest to hold the group together. Mind you, it was his own control-freak tendencies that drove the others away. Even so, if Paul was giving up, the Beatles were done.
The album is deeply personal and intimate. McCartney is the only performer, recording and dubbing all of the tracks himself. None of the work is exactly Beatles-worthy, with one glaring exception. "Maybe I'm Amazed" is, in my humble opinion, the last truly great song he ever wrote. Humility in the face of love - there's that theme again. The melody is vintage Paul as are the chromatic piano runs. Incredibly, the studio version was never released as a single.