'THE LYRICS: 1956 to the Present' Out Now in Paperback

'THE LYRICS: 1956 to the Present' paperback cover

THE LYRICS: 1956 to the Present Paperback Edition
⁠Released 7th November 2023
⁠Featuring seven new song commentaries

Order your copy of THE LYRICS: 1956 to the Present paperback in the UK
Order your copy of THE LYRICS: 1956 to the Present paperback in the US

⁠On November 7, 2023, a one-volume edition of THE LYRICS: 1956 to the Present will be published in paperback, featuring additional commentaries on iconic songs spanning Paul McCartney’s unparalleled musical career.

The #1 New York Times bestselling book to be released in paperback with seven new song commentaries from our greatest living songwriter, including:
⁠'Day Tripper'
⁠'English Tea'
'⁠Every Night'
'⁠Hello, Goodbye'
⁠'Magical Mystery Tour'
'Step Inside Love'

When THE LYRICS published in 2021 to worldwide acclaim, it was heralded as a one-of-a-kind self-portrait of McCartney, earning Book of the Year by Barnes & Noble and Waterstones, and winning a British Book Award. Critics revelled in “how deeply he is steeped in literary history and how much his output as a songwriter has in common with the works of the likes of Dickens and Shakespeare” (New York Times Book Review).

Finally in paperback, it further celebrates the breadth of that creative life and musical genius, covering sixty-six years through 161 songs—from early days in Liverpool, the global pop cultural domination of The Beatles, the ‘70s radio gold of Wings, and Paul’s prolific and still peaking solo career. A veritable road map to the way artists write and think about music, THE LYRICS “is like standing in a master chef’s kitchen as he prepares a dish, adding a dash of this and a spoonful of that and talking to us so winningly” (Washington Post).

Arranged alphabetically to provide a kaleidoscopic rather than chronological account, THE LYRICS establishes definitive texts of these songs for the first time and describes the circumstances in which they were written, the people and places that inspired them, and what Paul thinks of them now. Presented with this is a treasure trove of material from McCartney’s personal archive – drafts, letters, photographs – never seen before the 2021 publication, making this also a unique visual record of one of the greatest songwriters of all time.

The seven new song commentaries elaborate more on these themes, whether mulling over the romantic yearning in Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again” (Bluebird), the playful double entendres meant to trip up BBC censors (Day Tripper), the call and response power of a song (Every Night), the challenge and pleasure of writing for other performers (Step Inside Love), and the unlikely experience of serenading astronauts (English Tea). These first-person accounts give special context to lyrics beloved by generations of fans, and show how McCartney (and his contemporaries) were influenced as much by the musical Gigi as Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, the carnival atmosphere of Blackpool as the polyrhythms of a Lagos recording studio.  

With a personal foreword by McCartney and edited and introduced by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, THE LYRICS is the definitive literary chronicle of one of musical history’s most enduring treasures.

Born in Liverpool in 1942, Paul McCartney was raised in the city and educated at the Liverpool Institute. In June 2023 he published a collection of his photography, 1964: Eyes of the Storm, in conjunction with an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Since writing his first song at 14, McCartney has dreamed and dared to be different. He lives in England.  

Paul Muldoon is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of fourteen full-length collections of poetry, including the recent collection Howdie-Skelp.

‘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’ Paul McCartney, The Lyrics

‘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