“Maybe I’m Amazed” is not by The Beatles. It’s also not by Wings. (Not exactly.) “Maybe I’m Amazed” is pure McCartney. The former Beatles star penned the solo project in 1969, during The Beatles’ tumultuous breakup. There are countless factors that lead to the dissolution of a rock band as powerful as The Beatles, and experts still assert different ideas: John Lennon’s drug use, the influence of Yoko Ono, the death of manager Brian Epstein… the list of specifics goes on. But regardless of the last straw, each of the four artists’ growing autonomy had long made compromise nearly impossible. So while The Beatles were fretting over what to do next – and who would break first – Paul McCartney attempted to write music for himself. And he was struggling.
Paul McCartney’s Early Solo Career
Paul McCartney was in crisis. By the end of 1969, he and longtime collaborator John Lennon were barely speaking. Although the dynamic duo had proven their decades-long chemistry through countless hits, by the start of the 1970s, the songwriting team had splintered into a more even output from the four Beatles. McCartney became competitive against Lennon and George Harrison over which new tracks would get recorded. Naturally, each Beatle began planning for his own solo career. And unlike George Harrison who would begin that professional phase with a large collection of rejected Beatles tunes, McCartney had little in the way of back pocket songs. He was also feuding with Ringo Starr over the release date of his eventual solo album, McCartney, and its proximity to Apple Studio’s Let it Be and Ringo’s own project, Sentimental Journey. Although The Beatles’ final album, Abbey Road, would come out in September of 1969, The Beatles performed live together for the last time on January 30, 1969.
McCartney reacted to the turmoil through drinking. He credits his late wife, the lovely Linda McCartney for helping him get sober and for providing him with the unconditional love that led to his first solo hit: “Maybe I’m Amazed.” This tender ode to Linda is full of earnest lyric and melodic surprise. Lines like “Maybe I’m a man and maybe I’m a lonely man / who’s in the middle of something he doesn’t understand” hint at the pressures of the Beatles breakup which were plaguing McCartney. However, with his wife Linda by his side, Paul would persevere: “Maybe I’m a man and maybe you’re the only woman / Who could ever help me.”
Not only did Linda McCartney inspire “Maybe I’m Amazed,” but she also appears on the track. On the original studio version, Paul McCartney played all the instruments himself, including lead vocals, electric guitar, bass guitar, piano, organ, drums. But Linda McCartney, an artist in her own right, supplied the backing vocals. However, Linda remains most famous for her work as a photographer. A music video for “Maybe I’m Amazed” was compiled in 1970, collaged from intimate photos that Linda had taken of their family. This snapshot promotional film heavily features Paul with his two oldest daughters, Heather and Mary.
George Harrison panned the McCartney album to the press but noted that “Maybe I’m Amazed,” along with “That Would be Something,” were the best songs on his former friend’s debut solo album. Despite the rest of McCartney becoming largely forgotten, strong positive reactions to “Maybe I’m Amazed” would set the tone for McCartney’s solo career. According to Rolling Stone, it’s #347 of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
Paul McCartney and Wings
Within a year of the release of McCartney, the McCartneys, along with drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarist Denny Lane, founded the band Wings. Wings would come to define Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles life and legacy. Becoming a mainstream success, they recorded several hits like “Band on the Run,” “Live and Let Die,” and “Jet.”
In Wings’ 1977 live album, Wings over America, “Maybe I’m Amazed” was re-recorded and released as a single. The live version became a top-ten hit in America and also charted in the UK, more than seven years after its original release. Versions of “Maybe I’m Amazed” also appear on McCartney’s Back in the US, Working Classical, and Tripping the Live Fantastic. Joe Cocker’s cover from Heart and Soul is also popular.
Joe Crocker: ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’
Over the years, Wings experienced infighting, not unlike the Beatles. The band cycled through musicians, retaining only three original members: Paul McCartney, Denny Laine, and Linda McCartney on keyboard. Despite this continued drama, Wings cemented Paul McCartney as an enduring cultural icon with a musical output dwarfing fellow contemporary Beatles members, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
Tragically, Linda McCartney passed away in 1998 from breast cancer. She was only 56. In tribute to her death, McCartney encouraged fans to donate to breast cancer research, charities against animal testing, and to go vegetarian. Linda was a lifelong animal rights activist.