Paul McCartney, Paul Muldoon
The Sunday Times bestseller and Waterstones Book of the Year, now in paperback
‘Paul McCartney says this is as close as he will get to an autobiography and no wonder – his life is in every line of these songs … pure joy’ Sunday Times, Book of the Year
With seven songs added for this edition: ‘Bluebird,’ ‘Day Tripper,’ ‘English Tea,’ ‘Every Night,’ ‘Hello, Goodbye,’ ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ and ‘Step Inside Love’
Spanning seven decades – from his early Liverpool days, through the historic decade of The Beatles, to Wings and his long solo career – Paul McCartney’s The Lyrics has transformed the way artists write about music, pairing the definitive texts of 161 songs with intimate, autobiographical commentaries on McCartney’s life and music.
Arranged alphabetically, these commentaries reveal the diverse circumstances in which the songs were written, how they ultimately came to be, and the remarkable – often ordinary – people and places that inspired them. Dozens of vignettes re-create the working-class Liverpool of McCartney’s youth, where delivery boys ran parcels on docks, as in ‘On My Way to Work,’ and elderly ladies in the neighbourhood inspired ‘Eleanor Rigby.’ McCartney also introduces us to his early literary influences, among them Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll and Allen Ginsberg, as well as Alan Durband, his beloved English teacher, and his mother, Mary, who passed away when he was just fourteen – and whose memory has infused his work ever since.
Yet the two most powerful presences in The Lyrics after the author himself are his songwriting partner, John Lennon, and his ‘Golden Earth Girl,’ Linda Eastman McCartney. Here McCartney describes how he met John at a church fete in 1957; their adventures with George Harrison and Ringo Starr in the early 1960s; and how, at the end of the decade, they, and The Beatles, broke up. Thus began a second act of now more than fifty years, with Linda and family life as driving forces – inspiring songs from ‘Maybe I’m Amazed,’ written just after the breakup of The Beatles, to the 2012 ballad ‘My Valentine,’ addressed to McCartney’s wife and partner, Nancy Shevell McCartney.
Edited and introduced by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, and enhanced by more than a hundred images from McCartney’s personal archives – including handwritten texts, mementos, and photographs – and seven new song commentaries, The Lyrics is a book for the ages, and the definitive literary and visual record of one of the greatest songwriters of all time.
The Lyrics is a triumph. It is hugely readable, devoid of rock cliche, and full of fresh stories and opinions that even devoted fans won't have encountered before. The pictures of McCartney and of handwritten lyrics, many of them never previously published, are worth the entry ticket on their own and the quality of the boxed product makes it a tactile pleasure and fun to possess. All that, and its highly original organisation, means you never get bogged down in a period of his life you don't find interesting ... The Lyrics is McCartney at his best. * The Times * I know it all... or so I thought until I read Paul McCartney's magical treasure trove of a book ... Touching... bountiful * Mail on Sunday * His composing methodology is revealed as a kind of innocent and endless curiosity ... this mighty tome is billed as the closest thing to an autobiography McCartney will ever write. It comprises 154 songs, with hundreds of fascinating photos and handwritten lyrics from McCartney's collection, and an informal, thoughtful text assembled from conversations conducted with acclaimed Irish poet Paul Muldoon ... McCartney is a playful and brilliant wordsmith ... His book of lyrics is charming * Daily Telegraph * Reading "The Lyrics" is like standing in a master chef's kitchen as he prepares a dish, adding a dash of this and a spoonful of that and talking to us so winningly ... there's nothing like listening to Macca (as McCartney was known in his Liverpool days) talk about the rise of a band composed largely of working-class teens who changed the world forever ... charming * Washington Post * With a gravity, reverence and sense of occasion that hasn't been seen since the Levites rolled out the Ark of the Covenant, the complete lyrics of Paul McCartney are published at last ... This vast, absorbing book is studded with McCartneyisms that make you rub your eyes * Sunday Times * Describing it as a book doesn't quite capture the object. It is two books, two separate volumes, in a gorgeous box. It weighs 8kg on my bathroom scales. It's a big thing of great beauty, and going back and forth through it is a hugely satisfying experience ... no matter where you start, or continue, McCartney seems to be waiting, ready to continue his warm, vivid, erudite stroll through his life and lyrics ... the life - McCartney's - seems more believable when examined in these glimpses. There is a modesty hiding in the book's bulk, and raw, gentle honesty ... There are 154 sets of lyrics in this book, and it's almost impossible to read most of them without hearing the melodies and trumpet bits. But it is well worth trying. Read, not heard, Lady Madonna is a different experience. I read it and thought of Zola's best novels. * Irish Times * he provides a fascinating new insight into his life at the time they were written, and the lives of his fellow Beatles ... This, then, is a book for dipping into and sampling at leisure. It allows us to see some of the most familiar songs ever written in new and surprising ways ... [it] will not only thrill Beatles obsessives but fascinate anyone who has ever sung along to a Lennon and McCartney tune. Which must, surely, include half the world or more. * Daily Mail * a feast for the eyes. Dyed-in-the-wool Beatles fans will be bowled over by the sheer profundity of unpublished photographs, previously unseen lyrics sheets, journal entries, paintings, and the like. Indeed, The Lyrics easily represents the finest collection of illustrations associated with McCartney's life and work. And it's beautifully rendered, to boot. Drop-dead gorgeous as books go * Salon * the two things it reveals - an unrelenting work ethic and the picture-painting imperative of the storyteller - are the twin pillars of his life's work, as revealed here in random reflections on 154 selected songs spanning 64 years ... it's this up-front abdication of control, of responsibility and ultimately of authorial meaning that makes McCartney's story, and his open-handed attitude to a monumental body of work, so engaging. * Sydney Morning Herald * Nothing comes close to Paul McCartney's breezeblock of a title ... Combine this monumental lyrics collection with Peter Jackson's Get Back and many Beatles fans won't come out again until the clocks go forward. Paul McCartney says this is as close as he will get to an autobiography and no wonder - his life is in every line of these songs. Each alphabetical entry (a smart arrangement that opens up a trove of lesser known McCartney lore) is not only accompanied by a wealth of wonderful photographs and memorabilia (the lyrics to Carry That Weight on Apple notepaper!), but also McCartney's own recollections and analysis. "Mostly, we were writing to the world," McCartney says about I Want to Hold Your Hand. The Lyrics makes it a pure joy to reach out for these songs once again. * The Sunday Times Book of the Year * a rich, enjoyable and beautifully presented treat * i Newspaper * To read over the words to these 154 songs is to be impressed not merely with McCartney's productivity but with the fertility of his imagination and the potency of his offhand, unfussy style ... giddy playfulness and unguarded experimentation. They're a joy to read because they exude the joy their maker took in their making. * The New York Times * The text is accompanied by beautifully reproduced illustrations, including personal snapshots, formal portraits and memorabilia. The result is a hybrid of collected lyrics, memoir and picture book, a composite form resembling the all-round character of McCartney's musicality ... The Lyrics is a rewarding portrait of an exceptional songwriter. * Financial Times * From All My Loving to Your Mother Should Know, the former Beatle illuminates a life spent puzzling how to get from the beginning of a song to its end * Observer * Paul McCartney's storied career has been a long and winding road paved with songwriting gold. Thankfully, these fab volumes do it justice engrossing ... reading it is like watching genius - which McCartney undoubtedly was and fitfully remains - in the process of creation, summoning something out of nothing * Spectator * The Lyrics is stunningly beautiful and a masterpiece of book design, a true joy for bibliophiles. Paul McCartney has fashioned, through the explorations of his songs with the poet Paul Muldoon, a fascinating insight into his life and creative genius. The booksellers of Waterstones are proud to celebrate this magnificent and deeply original book. This lavishly produced two-volume boxed-set, which took five years to compile, is destined to be under many Christmas trees. * Daily Mail * The Beatles used to chuck lyric sheets in the wastebasket after recording a song: Linda McCartney fished them out and saved them. The Lyrics is the deluxe version of her scrapbook, a ... handsome, two-volume compendium of Paul McCartney's work as a lyricist, accompanied by photos and Macca's engaging reminiscences. * Financial Times, Best books of 2021 * Paul McCartney never wrote an autobiography. He argued that his remarkable life story is "all in the songs" - the hundreds upon hundreds of timeless, instantly engrossing classics that have become the soundtrack to Western culture. One hundred and fifty-four of these musical gems are gathered in The Lyrics - a gripping commentary on the inspiration for the tunes, their making and the characters they portray. ... McCartney's commentary throughout feels candid, enlightening and at times philosophical. His insight into the makeup and meaning of the lyrics is illuminating and entertaining, adding layers of depth to the already rich texture. * The Critic * Sir Paul has arranged 154 favourite compositions alphabetically, with lots of glossy photos. But in the essays that accompany each song, his underlying purpose is to affirm his status as a writer ... what fan will not enjoy a meander that feels like a long private audience with one of the Fab Four? * Economist * Paul McCartney's delicious The Lyrics is a treasure trove. Gloriously illustrated with old snaps, posters with the Beatles' bottom-of-the-bill, handwritten set lists, lyrics on scraps and exhausting tour lists criss-crossing Britain. * Waitrose Weekend * The Lyrics is sumptuously made to a standard associated with high-end art publishers. It is lovely to hold and to touch and to look at. There are countless beautifully reproduced photographs, of McCartney - who in his younger years ravished the lens - his mother, father, brother and aunties, his wives, his children, his friends and notable collaborators. Many of the pictures are published for the first time. There are also handwritten lyric sheets festooned with doodles, scribbled diary entries, gig posters, newspaper reports, pictures of first pressings ... This book is ... more like an autobiography, done McCartney's way. Rather than publish a conventional life story, he has opted to tell this life through songs and pictures ... His eloquence is found in his art: next to the splendour of the songs ... The book showcases McCartney's lyrics ... the songs make up a larger canvas, or mosaic, that the artist himself is only now stepping back to contemplate. * New Statesman * Stating in the introduction to this two-volume gift edition that he has no intention of writing a memoir, Paul McCartney presents his songs as the next best thing, leaving us to mine their words as a guide to his life and world view. * The Times * These two beautifully produced hardbacks give a lot of bang for your buck. Macca recalls the inspiration behind 154 of his songs and the collaborative process of writing them, his stories taking in Lennon, Linda and fame, and there's a trove of photographs and memorabilia from his personal archive. He says the time has never been right to write a full memoir, but this collection is brimming with insights into the man and the music. * Daily Express *
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