Paul McCartney talks to Paul Muldoon and prepares “The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present”

August 2015 to August 2020
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I was introduced to Paul McCartney in early 2015. There followed 24 separate meetings over a five-year period, most taking place in New York, and each involving two or three hours of intensive conversation. The process was a little reminiscent of the two- or three-hour writing sessions that were a feature of the Lennon-McCartney partnership, though the tea was green rather than Brooke Bond or PG Tips. For snacks there were bagels with hummus, cheese and pickles, occasionally Marmite. Our times together were universally upbeat, sometimes uproariously so. We were born nine years apart, and part of the reason we got on so well was our shared culture and range of reference. Our birthdays are also separated by just two calendar days, and we were both named Paul for the same reason: the fact that the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul falls on 29 June.

However good he may be at putting people at ease, and however comfortable in his own skin, there’s no getting around the fact that Paul McCartney will always be a 20th-century icon, and I did have to allow myself an occasional starstruck moment. It was a particular delight to have him quite often pick up a guitar to demonstrate a chord sequence and play a few bars of one of his songs. Despite all this to-ing and fro-ing, we did somehow manage to discuss the lyrics of six to eight songs each time we met.

Paul Muldoon – From Ken Dodd, Stockhausen and Psycho: unlocking Paul McCartney’s musical genius | Paul McCartney | The Guardian, October 30, 2021. “This is an edited extract from Paul Muldoon’s introduction to The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present by Paul McCartney, published by Allen Lane on 2 November.

Last updated on November 7, 2021

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