The Paul McCartney song that has sold more copies in the UK than anything by The Beatles was rising to No.1 in early December 1977. It not only became the Christmas chart-topper of the year, but would not be moved from pole position until the first week of February. We could only talking about Wings’ “Mull Of Kintyre.”
To be more precise, we should call it “Mull Of Kintyre”/“Girls’ School,” since the single by McCartney and his 1970s band was officially a double A-side. Even, that is, if the latter rock track was very much in the giant shadow cast by the astonishing popularity of the bagpipe-propelled ballad about Paul and Linda’s Scottish homeland.
Research from the Official Charts Company shows that “Mull Of Kintyre” is not only the second-bestselling Christmas No.1 of all time, behind only Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” but is sitting pretty at No.4 in the list of top selling singles in the UK, period. Recent sales totals put it at 2.08 million, in addition to countless further sales from reaching No.1 in Australia, Germany and all across the Benelux countries and Scandinavia.
Scotland via the Virgin Islands
“Mull” came to life during recording sessions by Wings in both the Virgin Islands and at Abbey Road, but were interrupted when Linda McCartney fell pregnant, with the couple’s son James. To complicate things even further during a difficult year for the band, both guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Joe English left, but not until they had played on both sides of the upcoming release.
On the chart of December 3, 1977, “Mull Of Kintyre”/“Girls’ School” replaced ABBA’s “The Name Of The Game” at No.1, and stayed there for a formidable nine weeks. It was finally succeeded at the top by Althea & Donna’s reggae favourite “Uptown Top Ranking.” Strangely, “Mull Of Kintyre” never quite caught on America, where “Girls School” was the lead track and even then, only reached No.33. But with the first-ever single to sell two million copies in the UK, Paul and Linda and Denny Laine hardly needed to care.
“Mull Of Kintyre” is on Wings Greatest, which can be bought here.
Follow the official Paul McCartney & Wings Best Of playlist.