Musical legend and former Beatle Paul McCartney is set to publish The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, based on conversations he had with Princeton University Professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon over the last five years.
“These commentaries are as close to an autobiography as we may ever come,” said Muldoon, who edited the 900-plus page two-volume lyrical autobiography and penned the introduction. “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.”
Due out in November, The Lyrics is a “self-portrait in 154 songs” where McCartney recounts his life and art from all stages of his career – from his earliest boyhood compositions through the legendary decade of The Beatles, to Wings and his solo albums to the present.
“More often than I can count, I’ve been asked if I would write an autobiography, but the time has never been right,” said McCartney. “The one thing I’ve always managed to do, whether at home or on the road, is to write new songs.”
Muldoon, who met regularly with McCartney over the last couple years, was struck by McCartney’s scholarly disposition and told the Guardian, “In a strange way, our process mimicked the afternoon sessions he had with John Lennon when they wrote for the Beatles. We were determined never to leave the room without something interesting.”
“It turns out that Paul McCartney is a natural educator,” said Muldoon, who recently invited him to his How to Write A Song class. “One of the things few people might realize about him is that he is quite likely to have been a teacher had he not become a rock star,” he added.
Arranged alphabetically to provide a kaleidoscopic rather than chronological account, the volumes establish definitive texts of McCartney’s song lyrics for the first time and describes the circumstances in which they were written, the people and places that inspired them, and what he thinks of them now.
“I hope that what I’ve written will show people something about my songs and my life which they haven’t seen before,” said McCartney. “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.”