IT’S a tale of two Pauls – Sir Paul McCartney joining forces with Portadown poet Paul Muldoon, who helped him compile a new biography detailing the stories behind every song he ever had a hand in writing.
The opus was the result of conversations between the pair spanning a five-year period between 2015 and 2020 — speaking for 50 hours to uncover the inspiration for 154 of them in all, from The Beatles and beyond.
Sir Paul (79) said: “I felt that the process of going over the hundreds of lyrics, some that I wrote in my teens, felt too cumbersome if not a bit too indulgent. It was a luxury of time I could not afford.
“But once Paul Muldoon and I started discussing the origins and influences of all these songs, I became aware that delving into the lyrics of my songs could be a useful and revealing exploration. For one, I knew Paul’s was a receptive ear. He was not a biographer looking for gossip or secrets, hoping to learn more about some supposed feud between me and John or Yoko.
“Nor was he an over-the-top fan-turned-writer, looking to transform every word uttered into some kind of sacred text.
“What appealed to me immediately was that Muldoon is a poet. Like me, he is into words and understands the poetics of words — how the lyrics themselves become their own form of music that can become even more magical when paired with a melody. Our conversations took place over five years... that’s a long period of time, and the more we talked, the more we realised we had a lot in common. It was easy for me to identify with Paul, not only because he was a poet but because we shared an Irish heritage, an ancestral link in our families’ pasts.”
Mr Muldoon, a Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry, revealed that such was their bond making The Lyrics that Macca once prank-called him a few years ago pretending to be then President Donald Trump.
He added: “Our times together were universally upbeat, sometimes uproariously so. Part of the reason we got on so well was our shared culture and range of reference, given that we were born a mere 11 years apart. Our birthdays are also separated by just two calendar days, and we were both named Paul for the same reason: the fact that the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul falls on the 29th of June.
“However good he may be at putting people at ease, and however comfortable in his own skin he may be, there’s no getting around the fact that Paul McCartney will always be a 20th-century icon.
“For that reason, if no other, I did occasionally have to allow myself a starstruck moment. Successive starstruck moments occur whenever Paul McCartney takes the stage. His live shows continue to be of such high voltage that one half expects him to burst into flames.
“During our collaboration, then, it was a particular delight to have him quite often pick up a guitar to demonstrate a chord sequence and play a few bars of one of his songs to an audience of one.”