Paul McCartney and Paul Muldoon announce new podcast “McCartney: A Life In Lyrics”

Friday, July 21, 2023

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From, July 18, 2023:

McCartney: A Life in Lyrics
⁠Coming September 20 2023

Paul is teaming up once again with poet Paul Muldoon, his collaborator on the #1 bestseller The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present. This time, Paul will invite listeners into his creative process with a new podcast co-produced by Pushkin Industries and iHeartPodcasts, out September 20, 2023.

McCartney: A Life in Lyrics is a combination master class, memoir, and improvised journey with one of the most beloved figures in popular music, where each episode focuses on one song from Paul’s iconic catalog – spanning early Beatles through his solo work.

The podcast offers listeners an unrivaled opportunity to sit in on conversations between McCartney and Muldoon where they dissect the people, experiences, and art that inspired Paul’s songwriting. The stories are richly interwoven with contemporary music and soundscapes, providing a revelatory and entertaining window into a true creative genius.

“When we listened back to the tapes, we realized there was something very special happening in these conversations,” Muldoon explains in the prologue episode, out now. “It was McCartney unfiltered.”

Season 1 features 12 episodes that include timeless favorites like ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Back in the USSR’, ‘Let It Be’, ‘When Winter Comes’, ‘Penny Lane’, ‘Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey’, ‘Here Today’, ‘Live and Let Die’, ‘Magical Mystery Tour’,’ Jenny Wren’, ‘Too Many People’, and ‘Helter Skelter’. Look out for a new episode landing each week, or binge the first season immediately at release with a Pushkin+ subscription!

McCartney and Muldoon have previously collaborated with great success in the #1 New York Times bestseller The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, which provided the genesis of more than 50 hours of recorded conversations. […]

“Paul McCartney is one of the most groundbreaking, gifted artists of all time, and his songs have elevated and given meaning to so many moments in so many of our lives – so the chance to launch a podcast that tells the stories behind those songs … it’s a once-in-a-lifetime project,” said Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group. “‘McCartney: A Life in Lyrics’ will be a first-hand, first-of-its-kind account of his creative process – that has shaped and inspired multiple generations across the globe. We simply could not be more excited to partner with Sir McCartney, Paul Muldoon, executive producer Malcolm Gladwell and Pushkin Industries to bring these stories to listeners everywhere.”

New episodes of McCartney: A Life in Lyrics will be released weekly starting September 20, 2023 on iHeartRadio, Apple, Spotify, and wherever podcasts are available. Pushkin+ subscribers will be able to binge the entire season on the very first day. McCartney: A Life in Lyrics will be distributed by iHeartPodcasts.

From Welcome to McCartney: A Life in Lyrics with Paul McCartney and Paul Muldoon – YouTube:

Welcome to McCartney: A Life in Lyrics. This podcast will take you into the mind of one of the greatest songwriters of all time: Paul McCartney. The result is a combination master class, memoir, and improvised journey with one of the most beloved figures in popular music. Each episode focuses on one song from McCartney’s iconic catalog – spanning early Beatles through his more recent solo work. McCartney, together with his friend, the poet Paul Muldoon, dissects the people, experiences, and art that inspired his songwriting. Season One drops weekly starting September 20, and features the stories behind songs like Eleanor Rigby, Let It Be, Magical Mystery Tour, and many more. Subscribe now.

From The Verge, July 18, 2023:

[…] Co-produced by iHeart Podcasts and Pushkin, McCartney: A Life in Lyrics is not a traditional podcast. The 12-episode series, scheduled to launch on September 20th, is sourced from hours of interviews that the English musician did with Irish poet Paul Muldoon, who was researching a book the pair was co-writing about McCartney’s past works, The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present. I spoke to the podcast’s executive producer, Justin Richmond, who laid out the process for adapting hours of recordings that the pair conducted, many of which happened during the pandemic. 

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What sparked the idea for this show? 

Well, the idea for the podcast came through McCartney’s production team, from the person in charge of special projects. The sort of system that [McCartney and Muldoon] came up with to write [The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present] is that Muldoon turns up to McCartney’s house, turns on his phone, and records a conversation between the two of them. Eventually, the pandemic happened, lockdown, etc., and some stuff was delivered over Zoom. 

My read on it is that after the stress of getting the book together was relieved, they were sort of realizing that they have hours of Paul McCartney being candid in a really special way. It’s not like this was expertly recorded in the studio. It’s not as if he was sitting down to be Paul McCartney of The Beatles to give an official interview about the band. These [recordings] really have the tenor of someone sitting down with a friend and having a leisurely chat about times past. And McCartney’s “times past” happens to be, for him, The Beatles and Wings and a litany of incredible solo work. 

So [McCartney’s production team] brought the tapes to us, and we listened to them and proposed a way to put them together. We spent the better part of the school year, you could say, — fall, winter, and spring — putting this series together. 

What’s the editing process like for a situation like this? You’re basically working with hours of raw interview footage and editing it into a podcast form. What were the challenges of turning a conversation between friends into something that’s listenable to an outside audience? 

The sort of nice thing about this, remember, is that these were conversations that McCartney and Muldoon knew were going to end up in a book. So they were focused, but just like anything else, after a while, they get into the routine and flow of it, and it almost becomes like the mics aren’t recording. They reach a level of familiarity and comfort.

To get to your first part of the question, about the editing, one of the hardest parts about editing, almost carving tape, is that you’re very aware when you’re listening to tapes from, say, a president or a head of state. This is Paul McCartney — and to understand, culturally, the second half of the 20th century, and I would argue the first 23–24 years of the 21st century, you have to understand The Beatles. The hard part of editing him was that you almost wanted to treat it like an archive. As a storyteller, because it’s a historical person, you want to save everything. But obviously, we have a mission to tell the most interesting story possible. 

So having gone through hours and hours of tapes, we realized we couldn’t follow every tangent, and we couldn’t, like the book did, really drill down what the lyrics meant for a particular song. 

There’s not a lot of information about The Beatles that you consider to be not well-traveled. But one of the exciting things about this series is that there’s at least one thing in every episode that I didn’t know or I found surprising and brought me closer to a fundamental understanding of what The Beatles are. 

What’s one thing that surprised you the most while going through the tapes? 

This is kind of a goofy one, but at one point in the series, you discover that Paul is a dog person and John Lennon is a cat person. And I don’t think there’s anything else that best describes the difference between these two people and the way they relate to each other in life and in art. 

Cats kind of keep you at an arm’s length, right? Like they’re not completely trusting of you. Dogs are a lot more vulnerable emotionally. I think when you sort of look at how these two people lived their lives, it appears to be reified in their music. 

What are some tough editing decisions you had to make? 

So the book covers 154 songs. We had access to all of the tapes. So I guess, in some world, we could have done 154 episodes. But again, it felt like the best way to engage the audience and the best way to tell the story was to connect the songs to life events, like points on McCartney’s timeline, in either his personal life or artistic career. 

We did end up leaving out “Ebony and Ivory,” which was tough. Not that it’s my favorite song of McCartney’s by any stretch of the imagination, but you know, it’s a collaboration with Stevie Wonder. It’s an opportunity to hear Paul McCartney talk about Stevie Wonder. You know, how could we not do that? We kind of beat our heads against a wall figuring out how we can make that episode. 

But at the end of the day, the idea of Paul McCartney talking about Stevie Wonder was far more interesting than… it actually would have been.

Was it just a really boring conversation? 

I’m always attempting to deliver on a practice and deliver it in a particular way. And I feel like the promise of Paul McCartney talking about his collaboration with Stevie Wonder for 20–30 minutes was greater than what we necessarily could do with the footage. We just couldn’t make an episode about it — it wouldn’t deliver as well as the rest of the series did. So we had to kind of let that one go. 

I’m sure you know that McCartney came to a settlement with Sony over The Beatles’ catalog in 2017. Is this show an effort to put his mark back on his old work?

Having listened to the series dozens of times now, and having listened to the raw tapes, I never got the sense that he’s looking to make The Beatles about him or that this is his thing. I think the reason we’re talking about McCartney’s songs is because he feels the most — we’re not talking about Rubber Soul or “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” These are Paul’s songs that we’re talking about, by and large, because he feels the most comfortable speaking about them. I don’t think he wants to get into speaking for John, and I don’t think he wants to claim The Beatles fully for himself. 

On its face, I think this is a way for him to set the record straight on some things. There’s just certain things about the lyrics that have been misinterpreted over the years. And not just even maliciously, you know. Kind of innocently, even. 

What songs are the most misinterpreted? 

I feel like I want to say “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” but hold on. “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is an interesting one. I don’t know if it’s the most misinterpreted, but I think it’s an overlooked song because it’s viewed as lacking the amount of depth that people look for in other songs by The Beatles. I don’t want to give too much away, but the origin of Paul’s inspiration for the song came from an old BBC radio play that was about a decade old when the song was written. It’s a very bizarre production of that play that I think would have spoken to most people who were stoned in the ’60s. And I think the song actually has more depth to it than people give it credit for — the episode that focuses on it is one of my favorites. […]

Episodes of ‘McCartney: A Life in Lyrics’ Podcast

Publication dateEpisode
Oct 04, 2023McCartney: A Life in Lyrics – Eleanor Rigby
Oct 04, 2023McCartney: A Life in Lyrics – Back In the U.S.S.R.
Oct 11, 2023McCartney: A Life in Lyrics – Let It Be
Oct 18, 2023McCartney: A Life in Lyrics – When Winter Comes / Mull of Kintyre

Last updated on October 20, 2023


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