Paul McCartney didn’t know it at the time, but he was going to need some major firepower going into the summer of 1970. He wasn’t just about to release his debut solo LP – he was also about to break up The Beatles, whether he knew it or not. The backlash from critics, the general public, and even his former bandmates was going to be rough, so McCartney really needed a strong song to show that his solo career was worth the dissolution of the world’s most beloved band.
He had it too: ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’, the all-time ballad of all ballads that showed that McCartney was still at the very top of his game. A lush and highly produced track, ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ would have almost assuredly been a major chart hit that would have gotten McCartney’s solo career off to a hot start.
But instead, McCartney elected not to release any singles from McCartney. Sequenced as the second-to-last track and surrounded by half-finished lo-fi home studio experiments, it almost seemed as though McCartney was purposefully burying ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’. As McCartney himself attested, it wasn’t deliberate self-sabotage that kept the song away from the singles charts: it was stupidity.
“Sometimes we’re a bit daft here,” McCartney claimed. “We have a bit of a funky organisation, you know, which isn’t that clued into picking tracks off albums. At the time we thought ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ was a good track and maybe we should do that as a single, which it probably should have been. But we never did.”
McCartney couldn’t have predicted the critical bashing and general scorn that was to follow his solo career for the next few years. Would releasing ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ as a single have curbed some of that scorn? Maybe not, considering how ‘Admiral Halsey/Uncle Albert’ was released as a single a year later, went all the way to number one in the US, and still couldn’t elevate Ram beyond its middling reviews.
At the very least, however, a killer single that sounded like a great lost Beatles track would have shown that McCartney hadn’t lost his marbles, as some critics and commentators might have claimed. The next time McCartney saw the right opportunity to release ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ as a single, he took it.
That was from the Wings Over America album, recorded when McCartney had restored his critical and commercial fortunes. With a renewed sense of confidence, McCartney released the live version of ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ as a single and saw the track rise all the way to number ten on the Billboard Hot 100. Would the original studio recording have done the same had it been released as a single? It’s impossible to say, but clearly, audiences have connected with ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ as one of McCartney’s best songs.