University professor Paul Muldoon will edit Sir Paul McCartney’s memoir to be released in November, according to a Feb. 24 announcement from McCartney’s publishers. The news came the week after McCartney was a surprise guest in Muldoon’s songwriting class.
According to Muldoon, he agreed to be McCartney’s editor in 2015, during a nearly five hour production of “Don Carlos” in the Metropolitan Opera. He went to the show with Robert Weil, the Editor-in-Chief of W.W. Norton/Liveright U.S. publishing companies. They began discussing the idea of a Paul McCartney memoir.
“The idea of a McCartney book focused on the song lyrics came up in the first interval,” Muldoon wrote in a statement to The Daily Princetonian.
“By the time the opera was over the deal was pretty much done,” he added. “Paul McCartney and I first got together shortly after that and met twenty-four times, mostly in New York, over the next five years.”
Out of these conversations emerged “The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present,” an autobiographical work spanning two-volumes of 480 pages each. It “celebrates the creative life and the musical genius of Paul McCartney through 154 of his most meaningful songs,” according to a statement from the publishers.
“More often than I can count, I’ve been asked if I would write an autobiography, but the time has never been right,” McCartney said in a statement on his website. “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.”
These songs range from his first at age 14 through his partnership with John Lennon and his solo work over the last half century. According to the statement, the two volumes include commentaries on “the circumstances in which [the songs] were written, the people and places that inspired them, and what [McCartney] thinks of them now.”
Though the book is autobiographical in spirit, the songs will be arranged alphabetically, providing “a kaleidoscopic rather than chronological account.”
“Presented with this is a treasure trove of material from McCartney’s personal archive — drafts, letters, photographs — never seen before, which make this also a unique visual record of one of the greatest songwriters of all time,” the statement read.
McCartney has previously written or co-written “Hey Grandude!,” a children’s book based on his relationship with his grandchildren and illustrated by Kathryn Durst; “High in the Clouds,” another children’s book; “Blackbird Singing,” a collection of his poems and lyrics; and “The Meat Free Monday,” a cookbook with vegetarian recipes.
Muldoon wrote the introduction for and edited “The Lyrics”, which is available for preorder for $100 and will be published Nov. 2 in the United States by Liveright and W.W. Norton.
In the same published statement, Muldoon described the book as “as close to an autobiography as we may ever come,” adding that McCartney’s “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.”
Muldoon is an Irish poet and Pulitzer Prize-winner and serves as a Professor in the Humanities and Creative Writing. He also is the Director of Princeton Atelier. Muldoon has performed spoken-word poems with the band Rogue Oliphant, written a book of rock lyrics, “The Word on the Street,” and is currently teaching a songwriting course with Bridget Kearney from the band Lake Street Dive. As of 9:45 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 28, McCartney’s trailer for The Lyrics has amassed 18 thousand likes on Facebook, 5.2 thousand likes on Twitter, and 232 thousand views on Instagram. It is currently ranked number 37 best seller in the biographies sections of Amazon.
“I hope that what I’ve written will show people something about my songs and my life which they haven’t seen before,” McCartney added in his statement. “I’ve tried to say something about how the music happens and what it means to me and I hope what it may mean to others too.”