“Silly Love Songs” is a song written by Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney and performed by Wings. The song appears on the 1976 album Wings at the Speed of Sound. It was also released as a single in 1976, backed with “Cook of the House”. The song, written in response to music critics accusing him of writing only “silly love songs”, also features disco overtones.
Silly Love Songs” was written as a rebuttal to music critics who criticized McCartney for writing lightweight love songs. Author Tim Riley suggests that in the song, McCartney is inviting “his audience to have a laugh on him,” as Elvis Presley had sometimes done.
But over the years people have said, “Aw, he sings love songs, he writes love songs, he’s so soppy at times.” I thought, Well, I know what they mean, but, people have been doing love songs forever. I like ’em, other people like ’em, and there’s a lot of people I love — I’m lucky enough to have that in my life. So the idea was that “you” may call them silly, but what’s wrong with that?
The song was, in a way, to answer people who just accuse me of being soppy. The nice payoff now is that a lot of the people I meet who are at the age where they’ve just got a couple of kids and have grown up a bit, settling down, they’ll say to me, “I thought you were really soppy for years, but I get it now! I see what you were doing!”
By the way, “Silly Love Songs” also had a good bassline and worked well live.
— Paul McCartney, Billboard
McCartney allowed the horn section to create their own parts for the song.
The US single was released on 1 April 1976 and spent five non-consecutive weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Silly Love Songs” was the number 1 pop song in Billboard’s Year-End Charts of 1976. It was also the group’s second of three number ones on the Easy Listening chart. The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies. Billboard listed “Silly Love Songs” as Paul McCartney’s all-time biggest Hot 100 single. In 2008, the song was listed at No. 31 on Billboard’s Greatest Songs of All Time, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The UK single was released on 30 April 1976 and reached number 2 on the UK Singles Chart.
The song was McCartney’s 27th number one as a songwriter, the all-time record for most number one hits by a songwriter. (see List of Billboard Hot 100 chart achievements and milestones) With this song, McCartney became the first person to have a year-end No. 1 song as a member of two distinct acts. He previously hit No. 1 in the year-end Billboard chart with “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in 1964 and “Hey Jude” in 1968.
“Silly Love Songs” has since appeared on multiple of McCartney’s greatest hits compilations, including Wings Greatest and All the Best!. It also appeared on the “Hits” half of the compilation Wingspan: Hits and History.
In 1976, Wings recorded “Silly Love Songs” live for their triple live album Wings Over America. In 1984, three years after the dissolution of Wings, Paul McCartney re-recorded “Silly Love Songs” for the soundtrack to the critically panned motion picture Give My Regards to Broad Street.
“Silly Love Songs” has generally received positive reviews from critics, despite the common criticism of the song lacking substance. AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine described the song, as well as its follow-up single, “Let ‘Em In”, as “so lightweight that their lack of substance seems nearly defiant.” Music critic Robert Christgau called the two tracks “charming if lightweight singles”, while Rolling Stone critic Stephen Holden said “Silly Love Songs” was “a clever retort whose point is well taken.” John Bergstrom of PopMatters called the song “an exemplary piece of mid-‘70s pop production and a pure pleasure.”
Paul McCartney – lead vocals, bass
Linda McCartney – backing vocals, keyboards
Jimmy McCulloch – lead guitar
Denny Laine – backing vocals, rhythm guitar
Joe English – drums
Tony Dorsey – trombone
Thaddeus Richard – saxophone
Steve Howard – trumpet
Howie Casey – saxophone