magine what it must be like to have a romantic love ballad, written just for you, become one of the hottest-selling singles of the year. Well, to Linda Eastman McCartney, it happened not once, but three different times -- with two different songs -- in three different decades.
The first time came when Linda's father, a New York attorney, introduced her to one of his clients, songwriter Jack Lawrence. She was a toddler, but inspiration enough for "Linda," a charming ballad recorded by big band crooner Buddy Clark. It was a million-seller in 1947, and sixteen years later, the song came back in rock'n'roll form, as sung by Jan and Dean.
It was the sixties; Linda married a Princeton man and followed him to the University of Arizona. There he became immersed in graduate research, and Linda, lonely, took up photography to pass the time. Eventually, she got a divorce, returned to Manhattan, and found work as a receptionist for Town & Country magazine at $65 a week.
As part of her job, Linda opened mail, and one day she came across a photographer's pass to a Rolling Stones concert. She grabbed her camera, saw the show, attended the press party, and -- incredibly -- was the only "newsperson" admitted into the Stones' quarters. She walked away with a scoop, exclusive photographs, and a nickname given to her by the other reporters: "The Park Avenue Groupie." By 1967 she was "big enough" to arrange a meeting with Paul McCartney. She slipped him her phone number, he called, and a romance dreamed about by millions was on. After a whirlwind courtship, they were married on March 12, 1969.
The Beatles broke up a few months later; Paul was the first to leave and first to release a solo album. That record, McCartney, included an early testament to his beloved bride, "The Lovely Linda."
"I remember John Lennon saying, 'I didn't think that was your taste in women,'" recalled Paul. "But it doesn't matter what your taste was for when your wife comes along, if it's someone you love. I never really had a home for a long time, and I started to realize that I wanted that kind of warmth. When you're eighteen you can sneer at such things, but once you turn thirty, you reconsider. Mind you, I could have said to John, 'Well, look at you. You must be joking.' But we all grow up, get older and wiser."
Paul's first solo single came out in the spring of 1971: "Another Day," backed with "Oh Woman Oh Why." Both sides made the Top 5. After that, he made a momentous decision: "about the craziest thing I could do," he admitted. He brought his wife -- who had no previous musical experience -- into the act.
Next, the McCartneys formed Wings, by adding former Moody Blues member Denny Laine on guitar and session man Denny Seiwell on drums. Later, ex-Grease Band guitarist Henry McCullough joined up, although he left, along with Seiwell, after the group made their first tour of England.
Wings debuted in 1972 with "Give Ireland Back to the Irish," a political single immediately banned by the BBC. McCartney responded -- tongue-in-cheek -- by making their next 45 a nursery rhyme, "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
And then came "My Love."
Paul considered this tune to be one of his two best of the decade. It was a lush, syrupy valentine to his wife: "A smootchy ballad," as McCartney would say. His first single of the year, it was also the first release (and first number one) credited to Paul McCartney and Wings, the name they used in 1973 and 1974. Issued in mid-April 1973, it was certified a million-seller in less than three months.
"My Love" was the only single issued from Red Rose Speedway, Paul's fourth album after leaving the Beatles. Both the album and single reached number one simultaneously in early June. Ironically, the record displaced by Red Rose Speedway was a Beatles compilation, "The Blue Album" 1967-1970. Red Rose Speedway was also notable for the Braille message embossed on the back of the jacked. Intended for Stevie Wonder, it read: "We love you, baby."
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