"Mull of Kintyre" is a popular 1977 song by former Beatle Paul McCartney and his band Wings. The song was penned by McCartney and bandmate Denny Laine in tribute to the picturesque Kintyre peninsula in Argyll & Bute, Scotland, where McCartney had owned a home and recording studio since the late 1960s.
The song was Wings' biggest hit in the United Kingdom, it became the UK's first single to top two million copies sold.
The lyrics are an ode to the area's natural beauty and sense of home:
McCartney explained how the song came into being:
In this quote, McCartney appears to refer to the entire Kintyre peninsula as the 'Mull of Kintrye', which is geographically incorrect. His farm lies north of Campbeltown, in the opposite direction to the Mull. Also, the video for the song, showing McCartney strumming his guitar whilst sitting on a fence, following through to the pipe band marching along the shoreline, was shot even further north, on Saddell Bay, on the east coast of the Kintyre peninsula. Saddell Castle can be seen in the distance. (OS Grid Ref NR 791317). Nevertheless, these inaccuracies had no impact on the song's success.
"Mull of Kintyre" was recorded in August 1977 in London, during a break in recording the London Town album caused by Linda McCartney's advanced pregnancy, which led to the departure of Jimmy McCulloch and Joe English from Wings. Bagpipes from Kintyre's local Campbeltown Pipe Band were included as a prominent part of the recording. "Mull of Kintyre" and "Girls School" (a rocker that had been previously recorded for London Town) were released as a double A-sided single on 11 November 1977, independently of the album.
The song's broad appeal was maximised by its pre-Christmas release and it became a Christmas number one single in the UK, spending 9 weeks at the top of the charts. It also became a massive international hit, dominating the charts in Australia and many other countries over the holiday period. It went on to become the first single to sell over two million copies in the UK, earning McCartney the first ever 'rhodium disc' and becoming the UK's best-selling single of all-time (eclipsing The Beatles' own "She Loves You") until overtaken by Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" in 1984 (which also featured Paul on the B-Side). The song remains the UK's best-selling completely non-charity single. (Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" has sold more in its two releases, but the profits of the 1991 release went to charity.)
The millionth copy of the disk sold in the UK included a special certificate. It was sold to David Ackroyd, who was presented with a gold disk of the single by Denny Laine.
However, one place where the song was not a major hit was the United States, where it only managed to make it to #33 in the Billboard Hot 100, and that was credited to "Girls School", not to "Mull Of Kintyre". As a consequence, McCartney has not played "Mull of Kintyre" during his subsequent concert tours of America, only adding it back on forays into Canada.
The song was adopted soon after release by fans of several popular football clubs in the United Kingdom and is still sung during games, most notably since the 1970s by fans of Nottingham Forest Football Club; the song's lyrics were adapted for the now firmly established crowd favourite 'City Ground'. Additionally, Canadian fiddler Ashley MacIsaac covered the song on his self-titled 2003 album with vocals from Dallas Smith of the band Default. The tune for the song was used in 1992 for the song Valley Floyd Road which was written for Charlton Athletic Football Club in celebration of thier return to their home ground The Valley.
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