The Beatles

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Macca’s gems: Goodnight Tonight

The seventies are near the end and it’s disco time! The horror of the self-named "serious" music lovers, because the in their eyes simplistic four-on-the-floor beat is far from intellectual music by established performers they’d prefer. It is getting even worse for them as disco makes headway by more and more artists. First of all there are the BeeGees, transforming disco to mainstream pop; Then, The Rolling Stones are guilty of it, with Miss You; Even a band like Pink Floyd is accused of being influenced by it. And when McCartney goes disco with Wings, he is promptly declared creatively dead. Not for the first time by the way, and not for the last time either.

Actually, this step is obvious to someone who has already explored so many genres of music. So why not disco?, McCartney has never took the slightest notice of any existing dedain to a music style. And Goodnight Tonight is a wonderful example of a song in which McCartney makes a musical style his own and knows how to turn it into a typical McCartney track. Yes, Goodnight Tonight is disco, pure disco even, but it’s  Macca-disco.

Video: Goodnight Tonight

The first thing that is immediately apparent to Goodnight Tonight is the sublime bass line, which actually carries the whole song. John Lennon didn’t care much about the track, but he was impressed by the bass.
Special are the guitar solos. Wings' new lead guitarist Lawrence Juber immediately leaves his marks with a virtuoso solo on the Flamenco guitar, giving the song a Latin feel. The guitar solos in the middle are rocking, with two electric guitars that alternate each other, as if they having a conversation. All of this makes Goodnight Tonight an exceptional mix of music styles: disco, latin and rock.
The single is the first by McCartney and Wings to be released as a 12". The 12" single is a new phenomenon in the late 1970s, on which, in most cases, a new, extra long, dance remix of a single appeared. At Goodnight Tonight the reverse is the case, because the seven-minute 12" single is the original version of the song, which was later shortened for the single release.

Video: Goodnight Tonight Live, Glasgow 1979

When Wings starts touring again in the fall of 1979, Goodnight Tonight is part of the setlist. But the tour is short and afterwards it will no longer be played live. That's a pity, because it would be a great opener for the encore: “Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say goodnight tonight”. It's one of the many songs on my wish list to hear it live once.
McCartney hasn’t forgotten the track. In 2012 he did a guest performance at the Africa Express, a music festival with African music, where he played Goodnight Tonight. Completely in African style:

Video: Goodnight Tonight Live, Africa Express 2012

Goodnight Tonight will prove to be the last big, global, hit single for Wings. Only in the United States, the band is unintentionally successful in 1980 with the live version of McCartney's solo single Coming Up. It is also the first introduction to the band’s newest line-up. But who thinks disco is Wings' new sound, will be deceived. It’s for a reason the track isn’t included on the upcoming and final Wings album Back to the Egg; Because it differs too much from the rest. McCartney once again put his audience on the wrong track. And creatively dead? Goodnight Tonight proves the contrary.

Related Post:
In Defence of Silly Love Songs

André Homan

André Homan is a Dutch writer and journalist.

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2 opmerkingen :

  1. One of his best tracks ever..., but certainly it wasn't his 'first foray' into disco as you made it sound. 'Silly Love Songs' was certainly played at the disco's in 1976 a year before disco's became mainstream.

    Absolutely love 'Goodnight Tonight', I dare say 'Egg' would have came off much better sales-wise with it's inclusion; it may not at first glance fit the mood of 'Egg', but it could have made an awesome Side 1 closer.

    1. Thanks for your aply, David. I agree on you with Silly Love Songs; I considered mention it, but I didn't because I wrote already a blog about SLL: