Editing Paul McCartney’s autobiography a similar process to The Beatles’ song-writing sessions, says NI poet Paul Muldoon
Pulitzer prize-winning Northern Irish poet Paul Muldoon, who has edited Paul McCartney’s lyrical memoirs, has likened the book’s creative process to The Beatles’ legendary afternoon song-writing sessions.
The Co Armagh man and contemporary of the late Seamus Heaney, was enlisted by McCartney to work on his 960-page volume The Lyrics, a ‘self-portrait in 154 songs’, charting the 78-year-old’s career from boyhood to The Beatles.
The book will cover the ‘circumstances in which the songs were written, the people and places that inspired them and what (McCartney) thinks of them now’.
Muldoon, a former professor of poetry at Oxford and fan of Sixties pop, met up with the former Beatle many times to discuss the book’s content and the writing process.
“Sir Paul and I met regularly over a period of five years for two or three hour sessions in which we talked in a very intensive way about the background to a half dozen songs,” said Muldoon.
“In a strange way, our process mimicked the afternoon sessions he had with John Lennon when they wrote for the Beatles. We were determined never to leave the room without something interesting.”
Muldoon described McCartney as ‘a major literary figure’ and a poet.
“He’s one of the most buoyant, upbeat people I know, but his general demeanour shouldn’t suggest that he’s anything but a deep thinker,” said Muldoon.
“He looks long and hard into every aspect of life and I believe readers, old and new, will be struck by a book that will show that side of him. He’s going to come out of this book as a major literary figure.
“His insights into his 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 also revealed that McCartney pranked him with a phone call, pretending to be then-US president Donald Trump.
During an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today show, the poet said that he had received a call from Trump in 2016, inviting him to be his ‘poetry tzar’ but that it turned out to be the Beatles legend impersonating the president.
“Paul McCartney is a very serious person but he’s very far from being a solemn person. He’s a great believer in fun,” said Muldoon.
“This is absolutely clear from his catalogue, if we may describe it as such. He’s more inclined to see the upside of things and to be joyous, rather than anything else.”