Blackbird Singing: Poems and Lyrics 1965-1999

Author: Paul McCartney

Publication Date: 19th March 2001 (UK) / 23rd April 2

Publisher: Faber & Faber Ltd (UK) / W. W. Norton (USA)

Pages: 164


To many readers some of this book will be instantly recognisable as the songs that have formed the backdrop to every generation since the 1960s. Their lyrics have been learned, almost subliminally, by heart: 'Eleanor Rigby', 'Band on the Run', 'She's Leaving Home', 'Penny Lane'. But among the familiar are poems that have never before been seen. Sharing the preoccupations of the songs and including moving elegies to Paul's wife, Linda, they give us unique access to the inner life of one of the most influential figures in popular culture of the last fifty years. They demonstrate, against an acknowledgement of the essential solitariness of existence, an irrepressible belief in the power of words and music to make things better.

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Most of these lyrics, like most worthwhile poems, will be as reso nant long after we're all dead as when they were first released, perhaps most notably the compassionate but unsentimental requiem for "all the lonely people" penned by Macca, with a little help from his friends, in 1966. "Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name. / Nobody came. / Father McKenzie, / wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave. / No one was saved . . ." One needn't chase the sub-textual possibilities of "Nobody came" to sense that it's not a million miles from Betjeman and Larkinland; or to see why William Burroughs admired McCartney's talent for packing such a wealth of narrative into so few lines, or why another distinguished novelist, A S Byatt, finds it "a perfect sung lyric . . . with the minimalist perfection of a Beckett story". Michael Horovitz. The Guardian

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