Paul McCartney; Give Ireland Back To The Irish

“Get Back,” McCartney’s second-to-last single as a Beatle, began life as an anti-anti-immigrant song, but at the start of his solo years, McCartney’s music embraced the rock equivalent of “sticking to sports.” On Ram’s “Too Many People,” he sang, “Too many people preaching practices,” a critique of Lennon’s activism; on “Wild Life,” the eponymous track from Wings’ debut album, he wailed, “You’re breathing a lot of political nonsense in the air.” But McCartney soon opted for the polar opposite of keeping quiet (or staying subtle) in penning the most overtly political protest of his career. On January 29, 1972, McCartney met with Lennon in New York, where the pair of feuding friends agreed to stop sniping publicly about the Beatles’ breakup. The next day, January 30, was Bloody Sunday, when British soldiers in Northern Ireland shot 28 unarmed civilians (half of whom died) during a peaceful protest march. McCartney, temporarily radicalized by his hobnobbing with Lennon in Greenwich Village, immediately wrote a response and recorded it with Wings on February 1. “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” was released as the band’s first single before the end of the month. “I’m not really a controversial person,” McCartney said in a syndicated interview in December ’72, explaining that he had “merely wanted to get over how I felt about the Irish thing” — namely, that “I like the Irish … and the violence was getting a little too close to our own front door.” In a 1974 Rolling Stone interview, McCartney said that before Bloody Sunday, he’d thought, “‘God, John’s crackers, doing all these political songs,’” adding, “I always used to think it’s still cool to not say anything about it, because it’s not going to sell anyway and no one’s gonna be interested.” Much later, he recalled, “I wasn’t really into protest songs — John had done that — but this time I felt that I had to write something, to use my art to protest.”

Source: ‘Egypt Station’ and the Legacy of Paul McCartney’s Message Songs – The Ringer

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