The Lyrics

Liveright. 2 vols. Nov. 2021. 960p. ed. by Paul Muldoon. ISBN 9781631492563. $100. MEMOIR
In this immense two-volume collection, McCartney reflects on his musical career and eight decades of songwriting through 154 of his songs, whose lyrics are reproduced in full. In the book’s introduction, McCartney (who needs no introduction) explains his decision to compile this work: “Some people, when they get to a certain age, like to refer to a diary to recall day-to-day events from the past, but I have no such notebooks. What I do have is my songs.” With so much reported—and occasionally misreported—about the composer over the years, McCartney is the ultimate primary source and he sets the record(s) straight here, collaborating with editor (and unseen interviewer) Muldoon. The collection combines the best aspects of two earlier publications, Blackbird Singing: Poems and Lyrics, 1965–1999 (2001) and Barry Miles’s Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now (1997), the authorized McCartney biography (now out of print). Certain stories may be familiar even to casual fans, but there’s still new information to be gleaned throughout. Perhaps most impressive is the book’s unprecedented access to McCartney’s archives, producing previously unseen photographs and manuscripts.
VERDICT McCartney’s contributions to culture are foundational, extending well beyond enthusiasts and devotees. This set serves as his testament of a career and a life dedicated to music.
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