Paul McCartney Chronicles His Musical Journeys

The Lyrics: 1956 t The Present, 1964: Eyes of the Storm, and McCartney: A Life in Lyrics
Paul McCartney Chronicles His Musical Journeys

During the past few years, former Beatles member Sir Paul McCartney took many opportunities to reexamine several of his songs, as well as the Beatles’ early years. These recollections led to the publication of two books: The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present and 1964: Eyes of the Storm.

McCartney’s handwritten lyrics for “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” the Beatles’ first No. 1 song in the US. Credit: Jet Watling

The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present was formed from conversations between McCartney and poet Paul Muldoon, which were edited to create song commentaries. The book analyzes the lyrics of songs from the Beatles, Wings, and McCartney’s solo albums. A two-volume hardcover edition of The Lyrics was published in November 2021, and a paperback version–which includes seven additional song commentaries– was published in 2023. Since its publication, the book has won many awards, including Barnes & Noble’s 2021 Book of the Year and the #1 spot on the New York Times Best Seller list.

Muldoon’s conversations with McCartney were also used in episodes of the podcast McCartney: A Life in Lyrics, which provide more off-the-cuff versions of several song commentaries featured in The Lyrics. In McCartney: A Life in Lyrics, which premiered in October 2023, Muldoon narrates and provides additional historical context relevant to the songs, as well as literature that may have influenced a certain McCartney song. So far, there are two seasons of the podcast, and each season contains 12 episodes.

 In Season One, Episode Ten of McCartney: A Life in Lyrics, McCartney and Muldoon discuss the song “Jenny Wren” and mention its connection to “Blackbird,” which was recently covered by Beyoncè on her album COWBOY CARTER.

A series of photographs taken by Paul McCartney during preparations for the Beatles’ Christmas show in Finsbury Park, a park in London. Credit: Jet Watling

While The Lyrics and McCartney: A Life in Lyrics focus on Paul McCartney’s songs, 1964: Eyes of the Storm highlights a talent not usually associated with him: photography (renowned photographers in the McCartney family are Paul’s first wife Linda and daughter Mary). During 1963 and 1964, McCartney took over 1,000 recently rediscovered photographs in between Beatles rehearsals and performances in six cities: Liverpool, London, Paris, New York, Washington DC, and Miami. Along the way, he got advice from professional photographers that were assigned to follow and document the Beatles. These photos were compiled to create 1964: Eyes of the Storm, which gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the Beatles’ first year of stardom and captures the hectic energy of the time.

During the Beatles’ January 1964 stay in Paris, Beatles drummer Ringo Starr posed in a hat similar to the hat of Napoleon. Credit: Paul McCartney

In 2023, Eyes of the Storm was adapted into a touring exhibit called Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm. The exhibit has been displayed in the National Portrait Gallery in London, England and the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, and will be shown at the Brooklyn Museum, Tokyo City View, and the Portland Art Museum later this year.

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