Paul McCartney knows a great guitar player when he hears one. The man who was lucky enough to play in a band with the likes of George Harrison and John Lennon also got to befriend some of the most legendary six-string players of all time, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Keith Richards. McCartney is no slough on the axe himself, so if he’s taking time to point out someone’s phenomenal skills, you know that it’s worth listening to.
That being said, David Gilmour hardly needs any kind of introduction. As far as rock guitar gods go, no list is complete without Gilmour’s name popping up somewhere. You don’t record a solo as sterling and perfect as ‘Comfortably Numb’ without etching your name into the annals of history. But it was Gilmour’s contribution to one of McCartney’s softer songs that got the former Beatle meditating on his six-string skills.
‘No More Lonely Nights’ found McCartney smack-dab in the middle of a mid-life crisis. The 1980s were an up-and-down decade for McCartney – collaborative number one singles rubbed elbows with cheesy synthesiser ballads and uninspired retreads from his earlier years. The truth was that McCartney could write a song like ‘No More Lonely Nights’ in his sleep, but the track came at a prudent time as McCartney was getting ridiculed for his 1984 film Give My Regards to Broad Street.
A top ten hit on both sides of the Atlantic, ‘No More Lonely Nights’ was a mostly gentle ballad with a notable edge to it courtesy of Gilmour’s stinging lead guitar lines. “David Gilmour plays the solo on the record. I’ve known him since the early days of Pink Floyd,” McCartney recalled in The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present. “Dave is a genius of sorts, so I was pulling out all the stops.”
“I admired his playing so much,” McCartney added, “and I’d seen him around; I think he’d just done his solo About Face album. So I rang him up and said, ‘Would you play on this?’ It sounded like his kind of thing.” Gilmour’s playing is immediately recognisable from his tone that seems to slash through the more schlocky sounds of ‘No More Lonely Nights’, and his solo serves to elevate what would have been just another McCartney ballad.
Listen to Gilmour’s contribution on ‘No More Lonely Nights’ from Give My Regards to Broad Street down below.