Paul Simon Said 1 Paul McCartney Song Wasn’t as Good as the French National Anthem

Paul Simon dismissed a Paul McCartney song that promotes Irish republicanism. Simon praised other protest tunes, including an anthem associated with the French Revolution.

Say what you want about 1960s classic rockers, they usually spoke their minds about their contemporaries. Paul Simon called a Paul McCartney song “garbage.” He said the mindset behind the song and a political song from John Lennon offended him. The former track was banned by the BBC for being too controversial.

Paul Simon dismissed a Paul McCartney song that promotes Irish republicanism

One of Wings’ most controversial songs was “Give Ireland Back to the Irish.” It promoted Irish republicanism — the belief that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should be one nation with no ties to the British monarchy. During a 1972 interview with Rolling Stone, Simon dismissed the tune. “‘Give Ireland Back to the Irish’ — that’s garbage,” he said. “I don’t say that someone can’t write a social song, or even a song that’s a political song, and have it work, as a song and as a political statement.”

Simon connected “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” to one of John Lennon’s solo songs. “Mass manufacturing of tunes, sort of ‘Let’s knock off ‘Power to the People,” I find it in bad taste,” he explained. “It offends me. I don’t feel it talking to me at all. John Lennon’s not interested in me when he makes that statement.” Simon felt “Power to the People” was “condescending” and inferior to The Chi-Lites’ “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People.”

Despite this, Simon had a positive view of The Beatles overall. He praised both their songwriting ability and their live performances. Simon predicted both “Yesterday” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” would have long lifespans.

The ‘Mrs. Robinson’ singer named some of the protest songs he liked

Simon was asked if he disliked protest music. “No, I didn’t dislike it,” he said. “I liked it, like everybody liked it. I thought that second Dylan album, Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, was fantastic. It was very moving. Very exciting. There was a lot of bad protest because protest became a thing.” The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan includes the famous protest number “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Simon named some older protest songs that moved him. “I’m not saying that there is no places for a politically stirring song,” he said. “‘La Marseillaise’ swings pretty good, actually. And there’s nothing wrong with ‘We Shall Overcome,’ right? So it can work.” “La Marseillaise” is a tune associated with the French Revolution that became the French national anthem while “We Shall Overcome” was a hymn for the Civil Rights Movement.

Why the BBC decided to ban Paul McCartney’s ‘Give Ireland Back to the Irish’

Simon wasn’t the only one to take issue with “Give Ireland Back to the Irish.” According to The New York Times, the BBC responded to criticism that it was giving Irish republicans too much attention by banning “Give Ireland Back to the Irish.” Generally, the BBC would refrain from playing controversial songs during their peak hours. Banning the song was an unusual extra step for the BBC. While John’s Plastic Ono Band made lots of social statements, it was relatively rare for Wings to promote a controversial cause.

“Give Ireland Back to the Irish” is mostly forgotten today but it really upset both Simon and the BBC.

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