Paul McCartney

Junk

Song Review by

Paul McCartney’s self-titled solo debut was taken to task during its initial release by pop critics and fans alike for lacking the slick studio polish that had come to define his work with the Beatles. Time has been kind to its low-key, homespun sound, which suits the intimate feeling of its songs nicely. One of its finest moments is "Junk," a melancholy charmer of a ballad that has become a cult favorite with McCartney fans. McCartney penned this song while he was still in the Beatles, around the time they underwent their short-lived retreat with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The lyrics capture the wistful mood of a junkyard by alternating cheeky descriptions of its contents ("Parachutes, army boots/Sleeping bags for two/Sentimental jamboree") with a chorus that poignantly illustrates what its like for the items in the junkyard ("Buy, buy, says the sign in the shop window/why, why, says the junk in the yard"). McCartney draws out the wistful tone of this narrative by pairing gentle verses that lope along in soulful but slightly sad style with a chorus that is built on an ascending-note hook that accentuates its emotional ache. Paul McCartney gives the song a hushed, intimate sound on his recording of "Junk," anchoring it on one of his typically fluid and melodic bass lines as he layers on gentle acoustic guitars and bells to create an elegant but subtle sound. McCartney tops it off with a softly crooned vocal that captures its wistful mood nicely. "Junk" was never issued as a single but remains a favorite with Paul McCartney fans and has been covered by Cilla Black and John Denver. McCartney also later reworked "Junk" in an orchestral style for his Working Classical album.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
McCartney 1970 Capitol 1:54
Wingspan: Hits and History 2001 Capitol / EMI Records 1:57
Pure McCartney 2016 Hear Music / Virgin EMI 1:57