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Paul McCartney’s ‘The Lyrics’: A Life Revealed in Song

In a new two-volume memoir, Paul McCartney looks back over a lifetime of creative output. Here, a closer look at 10 illuminating songs.

10/26/2021 7:00:00 AM

In a new two-volume memoir, Paul McCartney looks back over a lifetime of creative output. Here, a closer look at 10 illuminating songs.

In a new two-volume memoir, Paul McCartney looks back over a lifetime of creative output. Here, a closer look at 10 illuminating songs.

In the foreword toThe Lyrics: 1956 to The Present, Paul McCartney says that he’s repeatedly been asked to write his memoirs “but the time has never been right.” As he looked back across his life, though he did not have a diary to refer to, “what I do have is my songs—hundreds of them—which serve much the same purpose.” In 2015, he began meeting with poet Paul Muldoon and going through his recollections about his compositions with the Beatles and as a solo artist. The results are the 154 selections included in this two-volume collection. Here, a look at McCartney’s discussion of 10 of those songs—and a distilled view into his life and creative process.

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1.PLEASE PLEASE ME(1963)Many of McCartney’s stories about early Beatles songs revolve around the intimacy of working with John Lennon. They would usually write with two guitars, sitting down and facing each other—“the joy of that was that I was left-handed while he was right-handed, so I was looking in a mirror and he was looking in a mirror.” Their first No. 1 hit in the UK started with Lennon’s love of wordplay. “John liked the double meaning of ‘please.’ Yeah, ‘please’ is, you know, pretty please. ‘Please have intercourse with me…I beg you to have intercourse with me.’” McCartney reveals that he recently bought a cache of Lennon’s drawings and writings. “I have them on the wall so I get to look at them all the time, and it’s just pun city.”

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No, Paul McCartney Will Not Sign Your Wrinkled Receipt“It always struck me as a bit strange,” McCartney said. “‘Here, can I write your name down on the back of this till receipt please?’ Why? We both know who I am” I’ve never understood autographs. I’ve met hundreds of celebs and have never asked for one. Hell, I have a famous family member and don’t even have his autograph.