- Jun 20, 1951
“The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present” book published
Nov 02, 2021
“The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present” book announced
Feb 24, 2021
Paul McCartney talks to Paul Muldoon and prepares “The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present”
August 2015 to August 2020
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Paul Muldoon (born 20 June 1951) is an Irish poet. He has published over thirty collections and won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the T. S. Eliot Prize. He held the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry from 1999 to 2004. At Princeton University he is both the Howard G. B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities and Founding Chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. He has also served as president of the Poetry Society (UK) and Poetry Editor at The New Yorker.
Paul Muldoon and Paul McCartney co-wrote the book “The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present” published in November 2021. This 900-pages book covers Paul McCartney’s early Liverpool days, the Beatles, Wings, and solo careers, by pairing the lyrics of 154 of his songs with first-person commentaries of the circumstances in which they were written, the people and places that inspired them, and what he thinks of them now.
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.Paul Muldoon – From paulmccartney.com, February 24, 2021
Sir Paul and I met regularly over a period of five years for two or three hour sessions in which we talked in a very intensive way about the background to a half dozen songs. 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.Paul Muldoon – From The Guardian, February 24, 2021
He’s one of the most buoyant, upbeat people I know, but his general demeanor shouldn’t suggest that he’s anything but a deep thinker. He looks long and hard into every aspect of life and I believe readers, old and new, will be struck by a book that will show that side of him. He’s going to come out of this book as a major literary figure. His insights into his 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.Paul Muldoon – From The Guardian, February 24, 2021
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.“
Why did you decide to create The Lyrics and how long did it take to put together?
It was suggested to me by my brother-in-law John Eastman, and by the publisher of my Blackbird Singing book Bob Weil. They thought of the idea of putting together lyrics and associated material, and I liked it, so we put things in motion. Then it was suggested that I could work with the poet Paul Muldoon and give him loads of information, as much as I could remember about each song, and that was that. It took forever! I think it took about five years in total to create the book.
I had never met Paul before, but he’s a great guy and I was very happy to work with him. We first met up to have some initial chats when I was in New York, and then we did some Zoom calls once everywhere went into lockdown with Covid. We just talked and went through a whole big bunch of songs, and they’re all the songs that ended up in The Lyrics.Paul McCartney – From PaulMcCartney.com, November 2, 2021
Last updated on January 7, 2022
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