What are the best songs Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr recorded after The Beatles? As a lifelong Beatles enthusiast, here are my favorites.
I have purchased all the songs below, but to avoid possible copyright issues, I’ve tried to link to other sources wherever possible. When I could not find an advertising-free source without objectionable video content, I have provided an .mp3 (lossy) audio file from my own record collection. Since my choice for the YouTube videos would have been to include a single static photograph, you may find the video content provided by others to be distracting as I do. In that case, I’d suggest listening to the audio without looking at the videos. It is much better that way, to immerse yourself into the music.
My take on the best songs of each of The Beatles in their post-Beatles career will be presented in chronological order of their release date.
Maybe I’m Amazed (April 1970)
This is arguably the best song of Paul McCartney’s entire solo career. Full of musical surprises, as always with McCartney, we can expect the unexpected. The lead guitar solo in the middle and again at the end of the song is incredibly good and deeply moving. This song is “All Paul” but it is nice to hear Linda McCartney on backing vocals as well.
Adrian Allan in Paul McCartney After the Beatles: A Musical Appreciation writes “…tonal ambiguity lies at the heart of Maybe I’m Amazed” and “In this song, perhaps more than any other, McCartney proves his worth as a versatile and skilled multi-instrumentalist, possessing an intuitive understanding of the expressive capabilities of piano, bass, lead guitar, and drums.”
In my opinion, this original studio version of the song is far better than the 1976 live Wings version that was released as a single. That version is slower, longer, and the singing more embellished.
Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey (May 1971)
Who else besides Paul McCartney could produce such a wonderful pastiche? The only other contender that comes to mind is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen (Freddie Mercury).
Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey demonstrates that McCartney is an amazingly inventive songwriter, and this is another of his best songs that is tonally ambiguous. In this song, McCartney, the “man of a thousand voices”, adds the dialing of a (now) old-style telephone to his vocal sound effects library.
George Martin wrote the orchestral accompaniment, which was performed by the New York Philharmonic with McCartney conducting.
As Jayson Greene wrote in 2012, “Every single second of this song is joyously, deliriously catchy, and no two seconds are the same.”
I Am Your Singer (December 1971)
This song features interesting electric guitar tremolo effects, a consort of recorders (as in the musical instrument), and some pleasant solo and harmony singing by Linda McCartney. The phrase “sing, singing my love song to you” is a nostalgic throwback to the early Beatles.
Little Lamb Dragonfly (April 1973)
This musically sophisticated and lyrically childlike tender ballad was inspired by a newborn lamb in distress on McCartney’s farm, and was originally intended for a children’s film. Three different key signatures, 12-string & acoustic guitars, and lush orchestration by George Martin and performed by the New York Philharmonic make the whole 6+ minute endeavour an auditory treat.
The Pound Is Sinking (April 1982)
This delightful musical pastiche is reminiscent of Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey.
Fine Line (September 2005)
This catchy, upbeat, and bluesy song leads off the amazing album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, in my opinion his best since McCartney in 1970. And like that album, McCartney plays almost all of the instruments on every song.
Friends To Go (September 2005)
Paul McCartney was thinking about and musically inspired by George Harrison—who had died a couple of years or so earlier—when he wrote this propulsive, delightful song. McCartney’s vocal style is reminiscent of Harrison on his final album, Brainwashed (2002, posthumous).
Promise To You Girl (September 2005)
This song began its development as a bluesy piano tune, and add to that some lavish harmonies, two fantastic lead guitar solos, and more McCartney magic, and you have the makings of another great McCartney song.
Mr. Bellamy (June 2007)
This is another creative McCartney musical pastiche, in the tradition of Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey and The Pound Is Sinking.
Isolation (December 1970)
The raw emotion Lennon expresses in this song and his poignant lyrics—perhaps even more relevant today—is incredibly moving. I just love his double-tracked vocals here, especially “you’re just a human, a victim of the insane.” John Lennon plays piano and Hammond organ, Ringo Starr plays drums, and Klaus Voormann, bass guitar.
Imagine (September 1971)
I think this is the most important song that John Lennon ever wrote. It is a masterpiece. It is a prayer for humanity, not to our imaginary gods. Yoko Ono was hugely influential in its development.
Gimme Some Truth (September 1971)
Here is one of the best political protest songs ever written. As Lisa Wright wrote, “Scorn never sounded so good.” It is enjoyable to fantasize about what penetrating songs John Lennon would have written about politics during the Trump era. George Harrison plays a great slide guitar solo.
Aisumasen (I’m Sorry) (November 1973)
A deeply personal song about vulnerability and regret. This song ends with a remarkable guitar solo by David Spinozza. This song features great bass guitar playing by Gordon Edwards, too.
(Just Like) Starting Over (November 1980)
This is the first song on Double Fantasy, Lennon’s first studio album of original songs in six years. (Just Like) Starting Over was released as a single on October 23, 1980. Less than seven weeks later, Lennon would be dead. His murder so devastated millions of people (including me) that at least three people died by suicide. I will never forget the moment I heard the news. My wife and I were then living in an apartment in Ames, Iowa, and while I was listening to a phonograph record of Alexander Borodin’s Symphony No. 2, I received a phone call from my friend John Salzer informing me of the horrific news.
(Just Like) Starting Over is a 1950s-style rock ‘n’ roll song where Lennon emulates the vocal styles of Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison. Even though his voice is slightly flat in a few spots, it does not detract from the song at all.
Isn’t It A Pity (November 1970)
This is arguably the best song of George’s solo career, and certainly the most profound. Clocking in at over seven minutes long, this hypnotic song features the largest number of musicians ever assembled for a Harrison song. George’s slide guitar parts are amazing. Ringo Starr plays drums.
His Name Is Legs (Ladies and Gentlemen) (October 1975)
And now, for something completely different. Here is a Monty-Pythonesque comedic tribute to Harrison’s friend, Larry “Legs” Smith, who also adds a spoken monologue to this recording. It’s a fun pastiche, and even includes a “telephone dialing” vocal sound effect that must have made Paul McCartney smile. (See Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey above.) This is the final song on the album Extra Texture (Read All About It).
Save The World (June 1981)
Save The World is an environmental protest song with a serious message but presented in a Monty-Pythoneque humorous way. Perhaps like a nervous laugh, it is an expression of ecological anxiety. Sound effects are effectively used throughout the piece, and at one point, the explosion of a nuclear bomb puts an end to all else. This is the final track on the album Somewhere in England. Gary Brooker (of Procol Harum fame) plays keyboards, and the saxophones, etc. remind me of Savoy Truffle.
When We Was Fab (November 1987)
Musical and lyrical references to The Beatles and Apple Records abound (I Am The Walrus, Taxman, Magical Mystery Tour, and even Badfinger) in this finely-crafted song co-written, co-performed, and co-produced with Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra fame. Ringo Starr plays drums and contributes backing vocals on this very Beatle-ish tune.
Any Road (November 2002)
This folk rock song reminiscent of The Traveling Wilburys is the first track on the album Brainwashed, released posthumously. Performers are George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison, and Jim Keltner. Gotta love George’s slide guitar.
P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Night) (November 2002)
Even as his health failed, George never lost his wry sense of humor, and his vocal expressiveness is at its very best on this and the other songs on Brainwashed. The guitar playing in this song is fabulous. Once again, performers are George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison, and Jim Keltner.
Rising Sun (November 2002)
This one’s classic George Harrison, with great guitars and string arrangement by Marc Mann. George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison, and Jim Keltner are the performers on this one, too. Thank you, George Harrison, for all that you gave us. And thank you, Jeff Lynne, extraordinarily talented musician and producer that you are, for working with him.
Easy For Me (November 1974)
Harry Nilsson wrote this haunting, poignant ballad for Ringo, and Ringo sings it perfectly. Lincoln Mayorga is the pianist, and Trevor Lawrence & Vini Poncia wrote the strings arrangement, conducted by Richard Perry.
King of Broken Hearts (June 1998)
This Beatle-ish song was written by Ringo, Mark Hudson, Dean Grakal, and Steve Dudas. George Harrison plays slide guitar and the string arrangement is by Graham Preskett.
Instant Amnesia (March 2003)
Here we have a fantastic rocker, again written by Ringo, Mark Hudson, Dean Grakal, and Steve Dudas. This song is delightfully Lennonesque, with even a mention of Instant Karma—except for the unexpected yet cool middle section. Highlights are great drumming by Ringo and a lead guitar solo by Steve Dudas.
Elizabeth Reigns (March 2003)
This whimsical song referencing Queen Elizabeth II and the British monarchy was written by Ringo, Mark Hudson, Gary Burr, Steve Dudas, and Dean Grakal. For me, it brings back memories of Sexy Sadie. At the end of the song, Ringo laments, “well, there goes me knighthood”. Sir Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) did receive his knighthood in 2018 after all, administered by Prince William.
For Love (January 2008)
Written by Ringo and Mark Hudson, this song reminds me a little of John Lennon’s (Just Like) Starting Over, particularly the call and response vocal harmonies.
Harry’s Song (January 2008)
We’ve come full circle with Ringo, from a song written by Harry Nilsson to a song about Harry Nilsson. This bouncy number was written by Ringo, Mark Hudson, Gary Burr, and Steve Dudas—the performers of this song.