Paul McCartney Publishes ‘The Lyrics’ Book Expanded Paperback Edition

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Paul McCartney has published the paperback edition of The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present book, featuring additional commentaries on his iconic songs. The career-spanning book, a #1 New York Times bestseller, has been expanded with seven more stories, to now total 161 songs across its 624 pages. It arrived November 7, 2023, via Liveright, two years after the original hardcover edition. Order the new edition in the U.S. here, and the U.K. here.

The original hardcover edition, spanning a combined two volumes, was published on November 2, 2021, and ultimately earned Book of the Year honors from both Barnes & Noble and Waterstones.

McCartney explains the books premise. “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.”

From the original July 6 announcement: 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.

McCartney shared a bit about his songwriting process in a Q-and-A. For “Eleanor Rigby”: “I knew I wanted to write about a lonely old lady, but I didn’t really know more than that, I just was looking for the name. Eventually when the name came to me, I did what I always do, and started the song by adding a tune to that name ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and then asked myself what should happen next. I never quite know where the answer to that question comes from – in some way it’s like trust. I trust that something will come along, at some point. So, once she ‘picks up the rice in the church’ then I’ve got a bit more of her character, and I start thinking that maybe she’s the cleaner in the church, or whatever. From that line I’ve got more of an idea of who she is.”

Packaging for the original U.S. hardcover edition

More from the announcement: In this extraordinary book, with unparalleled candor, Paul McCartney recounts his life and art through the prism of songs from all stages of his career – from his earliest boyhood compositions through the legendary decade of The Beatles, to Wings and his solo albums to the present. Arranged alphabetically to provide a kaleidoscopic rather than chronological account, it establishes definitive texts of the songs’ lyrics for the first time and describes the circumstances in which they were written, the people and places that inspired them, and what he thinks of them now.

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.

We learn intimately about the man, the creative process, the working out of melodies, the moments of inspiration. The voice and personality of Paul McCartney sings off every page. There has never been a book about a great musician like it.

Each volume of the original hardcover edition is 480 pages; not available separately.

Watch the official trailer for the hardcover edition of the book

Paul Muldoon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and a professor at Princeton University, is the book’s editor. “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,” he said. “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.”

Related: McCartney surprised the professor’s songwriting class in 2021

See below the links for the complete list of songs featured in The Lyrics.

Full updated list of songs included in The Lyrics:

All My Loving
And I Love Her
Another Day
Arrow Through Me
Average Person
Back in the U.S.S.R
Band on the Run
Café on the Left Bank
Calico Skies
Can’t Buy Me Love
Carry That Weight
Check My Machine
Come and Get It
Coming Up
Cook of the House
Country Dreamer
A Day in the Life
Day Tripper*
Dear Friend
Despite Repeated Warnings
Do It Now
Dress Me Up as a Robber
Drive My Car
Eat at Home
Ebony and Ivory
Eight Days a Week
Eleanor Rigby
The End
English Tea*
Every Night*
Fixing a Hole
The Fool on the Hill
For No One
From Me to You
Get Back
Getting Closer
Ghosts of the Past Left Behind
Girls’ School
Give Ireland Back to the Irish
Golden Earth Girl
Golden Slumbers
Good Day Sunshine
Got to Get You Into My Life
Great Day
A Hard Day’s Night
Helen Wheels
Hello Goodbye*
Helter Skelter
Her Majesty
Here, There and Everywhere
Here Today
Hey Jude
Hi, Hi, Hi
Honey Pie
Hope of Deliverance
House of Wax
I Don’t Know
I Lost My Little Girl
I Saw Her Standing There
I Wanna Be Your Man
I Want to Hold Your Hand
I Will
I’ll Follow the Sun
I’ll Get You
I’m Carrying
I’m Down
In Spite of All the Danger
I’ve Got a Feeling
Jenny Wren
Junior’s Farm
The Kiss of Venus
Lady Madonna
Let Em In
Let It Be
Let Me Roll It
Live and Let Die
London Town
The Long and Winding Road
Love Me Do
Lovely Rita
Magical Mystery Tour*
Magneto and Titanium Man
Martha My Dear
Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
Maybe I’m Amazed
Mother Nature’s Son
Mrs. Vandebilt
Mull of Kintyre
My Love
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
No More Lonely Nights
The Note You Never Wrote
Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Oh Woman, Oh Why
Old Siam, Sir
On My Way to Work
Once Upon a Long Ago
Only Mama Knows
The Other Me
Paperback Writer
Penny Lane
Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me)
Pipes of Peace
Please Please Me
Pretty Boys
Pretty Little Head
Put It There
Rocky Raccoon
San Ferry Anne
Say Say Say
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
She Loves You
She’s a Woman
She’s Given Up Talking
She’s Leaving Home
Silly Love Songs
Simple as That
Single Pigeon
Spirits of Ancient Egypt
Step Inside Love*
Teddy Boy
Tell Me Who He Is
Temporary Secretary
Things We Said Today
Ticket to Ride
Too Many People
Too Much Rain
Tug of War
Two of Us
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
Venus and Mars/Rock Show/Venus and Mars – Reprise
Warm and Beautiful
We All Stand Together
We Can Work It Out
We Got Married
When I’m Sixty-Four
When Winter Comes
Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?
With a Little Help From My Friends
Women and Wives
The World Tonight
The World You’re Coming Into
Yellow Submarine
You Never Give Me Your Money
You Tell Me
Your Mother Should Know

*Added for the 2023 paperback edition

Best Classic Bands Staff

6 Comments so far

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  1. Klaus
    #1 Klaus 23 August, 2021, 17:23

    Your 2021 list of Beatle-related releases misses Rongo’s second EP of the year due out in September and Macca’s McCartney III Imagined.

    Reply this comment
  2. tskogg
    #2 tskogg 23 August, 2021, 21:55

    Anyone else notice that since neither John or George are around to dispute, Paul makes it seem like he wrote or co-wrote almost every Beatle song?

    Reply this comment
    • Hellie
      Hellie 24 August, 2021, 08:19

      If you know anything about Paul, this is the way he does things. It’s one reason I’m not crazy about the man. He always comes out on top. It’s him and him alone.

      Reply this comment
    • kevmac63
      kevmac63 5 November, 2021, 08:31

      I looked over the list of songs from the above article. Every Beatles song mentioned is a McCartney or mostly McCartney composition. If John was alive he would dispute McCartney’s assertions.

      Reply this comment
    • Vic
      Vic 10 July, 2023, 00:23

      He was the most gifted of the Beatles, so why not

      Reply this comment

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