Paul McCartney – “Junk” and “Singalong Junk”

As we previously discussed, Paul McCartney’s first solo album was heavily criticized, perhaps most of all by his former Beatles bandmates. This is somewhat surprising, seeming that several songs on it came close to being on Beatles albums. “Junk”, originally dubbed “Jubilee”, was written by McCartney in 1968, when the Beatles took a trip to Rishikesh, India to study transcendental meditation under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Though there are many different accounts of what actually took place there, one thing is for sure: the group wrote and worked on an amazing amount of music while there. “Junk” was passed up for inclusion on both on the band’s 1968 self-titled album and Abbey Road, but it did eventually end up on the 1996 Anthology 3 album, which was made up of the group’s unfinished material and studio rarities.

McCartney must have really liked “Junk” by the time he finished it in 1970, because he included it twice on his debut solo album. It first appears as the last track on side A of McCartney, and then later appears in instrumental form on side B. Titled “Singalong Junk”, it is not only shorter than its vocal counterpart, but it sounds slightly different. With its melody played out on the piano, more prominent drums and mellotron (an early precursor to the electric keyboard) strings are added. It was the first take of the song, but McCartney chose to record a longer, more simplistic take for the vocal version. Unlike most of McCartney, they were both recorded not at his home, but at Morgan Studios in London.

Despite the fact that “Junk” is a solo McCartney tune, it appeared on the Wingspan: Hits and History compilation. Never released as a single, it is still beloved by his fans. Some notable artists, including John Denver, Cilla Black, and Passion Pit, have also covered it. Its lyrics have been compared to the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” in the fact that it is also about feelings of loneliness and being unwanted, despite the fact that inanimate objects are being described. However, it seems as if “Singalong Junk” is more popular, because not only did McCartney cover it on his Unplugged (The Official Bootleg) album, but it was also included on the soundtracks to the movies Jerry McGuire and Hanging Up