“The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present” by Paul McCartney

Songs from a man on the run

The time has never been right, according to 79-year-old former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, to write an autobiography, so second-best will come later this year in the form of “The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present”, described as a self-portrait in 154 songs.
1. March 2021 16:21

The book will be published as two volumes in a slipcase, edited and introduced by Paul Muldoon, who says: “Based on conversations I had with Paul McCartney over a five-year period, these commentaries are as close to an autobiography as we may ever come. His insights into his own artistic process confirm a notion at which we had but guessed — that Paul McCartney is a major literary figure who draws upon, and extends, the long tradition of poetry in English.”

Muldoon is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 14 full-length collections of poetry, including his new collection “Howdie-Skelp”.

A never before seen passport style photograph of Paul from the late 1950s – © MPL Communications Ltd

Sir Paul comments that more often than he can count he has been asked if he would write an autobiography. Instead, he says: “The one thing I’ve always managed to do, whether at home or on the road, is to write new songs. I know that some people, when they get to a certain age, like to go to a diary to recall day-to-day events from the past, but I have no such notebooks. What I do have are my songs, hundreds of them, which I’ve learned serve much the same purpose. And these songs span my entire life.”

The publisher, Allen Lane, part of the Penguin Random House group, promises unparalleled candour as Sir Paul recounts his life and art through the 154 songs from all stages of his career – from his earliest boyhood compositions in Liverpool at the age of 14 through the legendary decade of The Beatles, to Wings and his solo albums to the present.

Paul photographed backstage at the television show ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’, Birmingham, England, 1963 – © MPL Communications Ltd.

The lyrics are arranged alphabetically to offer a kaleidoscopic rather than chronological account, and definitive texts are established for the first time, plus McCartney’s descriptions of the circumstances in which they were written, the people and places that inspired them, and what he thinks of them now.

Alongside the words will be material from his personal archive, comprising drafts, letters and photographs never seen publicly before. It is a visual record giving readers, if not an autobiography, an intimate portrait of the voice and personality of the man, the creative process, the working out of melodies, the moments of inspiration.

“I hope that what I’ve written will show people something about my songs and my life which they haven’t seen before,” Sir Paul says. “I’ve tried to say something about how the music happens and what it means to me and I hope what it may mean to others too.”

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