Paul McCartney tells life story through lyrics for Allen Lane

Paul McCartney tells life story through lyrics for Allen Lane

Paul McCartney has written the “extraordinary” story of his life for the first time through the prism of 154 song lyrics, to be published by Allen Lane.

Edited and introduced by poet Paul Muldoon, The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, will be released in the UK on 2nd November 2021. It will be simultaneously published by W W Norton's Liveright in the US and C H Beck in Germany. In the UK, the book will be published in two 480-page hardback volumes with a slipcase and an r.r.p. of £75.

The Beatles legend explained: “More often than I can count, I’ve been asked if I would write an autobiography, but the time has never been right. 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 book, a trailer for which is now on YouTube, sees McCartney recount his life and art through song lyrics from all the stages of his career, charting a course from early boyhood compositions to the Beatles, Wings and his solo albums.

Allen Lane explained: “Each is arranged alphabetically to provide a kaleidoscopic rather than chronological account, it establishes definitive texts of the songs’ 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.”

The book includes a “treasure trove” of material from McCartney’s personal archive including never before seen drafts, letters and photographs. “We learn intimately about the man, the creative process, the working out of melodies, the moments of inspiration,” the publisher said. “The voice and personality of Paul McCartney sings off every page. There has never been a book about a great musician like it.”

McCartney said: “I hope that what I’ve written will show people something about my songs and my life which they haven’t seen before. 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.”

Muldoon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 14 full-length collections of poetry, added: “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.”

McCartney's previous books include children's title Hey Grandude! (Puffin), illustrated by Kathryn Durst, The Meat Free Monday Cookbook (Kyle) with Mary and Stella McCartney, and Paul McCartney: Paintings (Little, Brown).