Paul McCartney – 1964: Eyes of the Storm

Liverpool, London, Paris, New York, Washington, D.C. and Miami.

Six cities pivotal in the success of The Beatles as their music and their fame burst into the world, changing a generation forever.

The year: 1964.

Captured on film by one of those at the very centre of the storm: Paul McCartney.

In 2020, a treasure trove of nearly a thousand photographs taken by McCartney on a 35mm SLR camera was re-discovered in his archive. It was realised that his photographs form a unique view of the months towards the end of 1963 and beginning of 1964 as Beatlemania erupted in the UK and, after the band’s first visit to the USA, four young men became the most famous people on the planet. These photographs serve as a personal record of this explosive time when The Beatles were inside looking out – right inside the eye of the storm. 

Now comes a new photographic exhibition and a book, 1964: Eyes of the Storm – Photographs and Reflections by Paul McCartney. They present his photographs and memories from six cities, capturing these intense months with many never-before-seen portraits of John, George and Ringo.

In his Foreword to the book, and in the \introductions to each of the city portfolios, McCartney remembers: ‘what else can you call it – pandemonium’, and conveys his impressions of what Britain and America were like for him and his band mates in 1964 – the moment when the culture changed and the Sixties really began. 

‘Anyone who rediscovers a personal relic or family treasure is instantly flooded with memories and emotions, which then trigger associations buried in the haze of time. This was exactly my experience in seeing these photos, all taken over an intense three-month period of travel, culminating in February 1964. It was a wonderful sensation to be plunged right back.

Here was my own record of our first huge trip, a photographic journal of The Beatles in six cities, beginning in Liverpool and London, followed by Paris (where John and I had been ordinary hitchhikers just over two years before), and then what we regarded as the big time, our first visit as a group to America’ – Paul McCartney

1964: Eyes of the Storm Photography Book Includes: 

  • Six city portfolios – Liverpool, London, Paris, New York, Washington, D.C. and Miami – featuring 275 of McCartney’s own photographs – and his candid reflections on them 
  • A Foreword by Paul McCartney
  • Beatleland, an Introduction by Harvard historian and New Yorker essayist Jill Lepore
  • A Preface by Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, and Another Lens, an essay by Senior Curator Rosie Broadley

The book, to be released on 13 June, is accompanied by a major exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery from 28 June – 1 October, 2023.

The Gallery will display, for the first time, a selection of the extraordinary archive of rediscovered and never-before-seen photographs taken by Paul

Like the book, the exhibition provides a uniquely personal perspective on what it was like to be a ‘Beatle’ at the start of ‘Beatlemania’ – from gigs in Liverpool and London, to performing on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York to an unparalleled television audience of 73 million people. At a time when so many camera lenses were on the band, these photographs share a fresh insight into their experiences, their fans, and the early 1960s, all through eyes of Paul McCartneyFind out more and get tickets here.

P.S. If you’re wondering about the cool music used in the YouTube promo video above it’s the McCartney track ‘222’, released as a bonus track on the special edition version of “Memory Almost Full“. The song was written for his youngest child, his daughter Beatrice, when she was aged 2. See The McCartney Project for more detail.

Four Sides of the Circle – A New Beatle Book

Last year saw the release of the lavish Let It Be box set. It celebrated the final Beatle LP, their swansong after a ten-year run as the biggest band in the world. The box set was accompanied by Peter Jackson’s extended 8-hour documentary Get Back, detailing the creation of the album. Despite the fact that Let It Be had been recorded more than a year earlier, its May 1970 release has forever seen it associated with the news that The Beatles were to continue no longer.

However, with an organisation as tight and complicated as The Beatles (along with their company Apple Records), things weren’t destined to just cleanly end for them overnight.

It would take until the close of 1974 before all four members had signed contracts dissolving their immense, famous and complex partnership.

This, argues author Terry Wilson, makes that period from 1970 to 1974 very much a “second phase” for the band. Despite each member pursuing solo careers technically they were still The Beatles. This continued on across a four year span. As individuals they were still very much tied together legally and financially. And they worked together collaboratively on many solo and other projects.

Wilson’s book is called Four Sides of the Circle. In it he details this often overlooked “second half” in the history of the band. It was an era of huge creativity and output. An era that gave us absolute standout releases like Lennon’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine LPs, McCartney’s RAM and Band on the Run, Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, and Starr’s Ringo, along with a myriad of other great and sometimes lesser-known songs and recordings.

These happened because band member collaborations continued in a variety of forms throughout this distinct “Phase II”. Their paths inevitably crossed both in and out of the studio despite the huge dissolution process looming over them.

Four Sides Of The Circle uses a very accessible song-by-song format, stepping through (in chronological order) all the formal recordings the individual Beatles made between1970-1974. It actually begins slightly earlier with John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace A Chance’ from June 1969, and concludes with Wings ‘Love In Song’, recorded in November, 1974. Every song – released and unreleased – has production details, recording location, who played what and (where applicable) the US and UK release dates. The song is then discussed by Wilson and critiqued with an appreciative eye. Each song is given a context with a clear emphasis on the music being made. This detailed and sequenced approach presents a true chronology of the period for the first time.

This is a book with something for even the most well-informed Beatle fan. Wilson is comprehensive and knowledgeable. There’s great detail here. In many ways he takes quite a scholarly approach – but the research never gets in the way of making Four Sides Of The Circle very readable. It finally completes the fascinating, long and winding story that was the Beatles. A story where – right to the last – they remained at the top of their game.

As Wilson writes on the final page of his book: “The legal conclusion of the Beatles technically occurred on 9 January 1975, when McCartney’s four-year-old case was settled, the completed paperwork having been sent back to London for the court to make its formal declaration. A cursory glance at the current edition of Billboard shows that on this day, Lennon was at 47 on the singles chart with ‘#9 Dream’; Harrison was at 16 with ‘Dark Horse’; Starr was at 7 with ‘Only You’ and McCartney was at 4 with ‘Junior’s Farm’. Appropriately, Lennon and McCartney were at number 1, courtesy of Elton John’s version of ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ on which Lennon sang and played.”

“They ended at the very top.”

Four Sides of the Circle is a great read and a fantastic reference book. Not only does it contain extensive background and historic notes on each song, in the appendices there’s a complete song list, record release details (complete with US and UK chart positions), a bibliography, and what we always like to see in books like this: an Index. It is the sort of book you can dip in and out of endlessly. Here’s the blurb on the rear cover:

At over 420 pages Four Sides of the Circle is very reasonably priced. You can find it on Amazon Australia, Amazon US and on the Amazon UK site as well. The US and UK sites also have a “Look Inside” feature so you can check out sections of the book in more detail. It will give you an idea of the format and content. You won’t be disappointed.

Beatles Box of Vision – Revisited

There’s no doubt there are some very generous souls in the Beatle collecting community and we’ve recently been the recipient of such generosity. In a tidy-up and down-sizing of his collection one beatlesblog reader found he had two copies of the 2009 release Beatles Box of Vision and, very kindly, decided to pass one of them along to us. And a welcome addition it is as we didn’t have this treasure in the collection.

The Beatles Box of Vision was the brainchild of former Capitol Records Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer and Beatle fanatic, Jonathan Polk.

Timed to coincide with the 2009 release of the Beatles stereo CD remasters, Box of Vision was a sumptuous way to store all that officially reissued CD catalogue – and more. Its storage section could contain every release from Please Please Me right up to the then-current Love, including Past Masters 1 & 2; the ‘best of’ albums 1962-1966 and 1967-1970; Live at the BBC; Anthology 1, 2 and 3; the Yellow Submarine Songtrack; the 1 compilation; and even Let It Be…Naked.

Box of Vision is large and impressively constructed. It comes shipped in a protective white cardboard outer (that is really worth keeping):

On the rear of this protective box is printed information about the contents:

When you open this white outer box the first thing you see inside is the large, well-protected, very good quality Box of Vision box. This initially looks like it might be designed to hold LPs instead of CDs because it is of LP-like proportions:

Taking it out reveals this still striking Robert Freeman image on the front cover of of what is a black linen covered storage box:

The box is deep and has the core collection LP spines printed along its edges :

As mentioned, the box is beautifully made. It is hinged on the left, opens like a large clam shell. It is designed to store, organise and display your Beatle CD collection. It contains two high quality books plus a set of plastic sleeves. The first thing you see when you open it up is a slim, soft cover book called The Beatles Catalography.

Then comes a series of 4 plastic storage sleeves – each of which can hold 8 CDs plus their booklets (4 on the front, 4 on the back of each sleeve). These have black and white images at each slot to show which CD goes where:

Then at the back of the box is an impressive cloth-bound hard back book containing all the full-sized artwork for every release. This is embossed on the front in shiny black lettering that simply says The Beatles:

Each box is numbered. This one is #1369:

Even the rear of the box has a nice detail:

Let’s look first at The Beatles Catalography book:

This is a guidebook to the unique history of Beatle releases. It details their UK and US catalogue in a side-by-side presentation so that you can immediately see the differences between the two countries, both in the artwork and the track listings:

Then comes the hefty, cloth-bound book The Beatles with high quality images of all the artwork associated with every official Beatle release in the UK to 2009.

Where that artwork extends to posters, special inserts or booklets these too are reproduced. For example, the story picture book stapled inside the Magical Mystery Tour LP is reproduced in full:

When you get to the 1 album an image of the poster is reproduced:

Likewise the booklet that came with the Let It Be…Naked LP:

The rear covers of each album are also faithfully reproduced:

Where did the name ‘Box of Vision’ come from?

At the time Jonathan Polk told The Houston Chronicle that title is from a song by Tom Russell. “The gist of the song is a father wishing he could give his child a box with all the things he would like her to experience in her life. I thought it was a good fit as I had envisioned this as a way to give a young fan the context to appreciate the history and chronology of the Beatles catalog, and what they were able to accomplish, in a much deeper way than as simply a bunch of hit songs.”

At the time you could order Box of Vision through the official Beatles site, or through a dedicated Box of Vision site – but that sadly is now long gone.

The Beatle/Apple connection – and the incredible quality of the images reproduced in both the books accompanying the storage box – very clearly hints at the close involvement the Beatles camp must have had with this project. They obviously supported the initiative fully, and it shows.

Here’s a YouTube ‘unboxing’ video from the time:

There was also a John Lennon Box of Vision released a year later in 2010, as well as a Bob Dylan Archive in 2011 – both done in a similar style to the The Beatles Box of Vision.

Thank you so much to reader Michael who very generously gifted us the Beatles Box of Vision.

Thanks also to Marc who read our article about The Beatles Box Of Vision and writes: “After it was released the Box Of Vision website had a PDF download containing corrections for three pages in Catalography book: one for the Let It Be/Let It Be…Naked page, and two of the Song/Album Reference pages.” Marc has made that PDF available. He hopes this is useful for others who may have missed it at the time. You can download those pages here:

McCartney’s ‘The Lyrics’ Wins British Book Award

Paul McCartney, no stranger to the odd prestigious award, has just won another.

His book The Lyrics:1956 to the Present has taken out the award for Best Non-Fiction Lifestyle book in the 2022 British Book Awards (otherwise known as The Nibbies):

Strangely Sir Paul’s acceptance speech (pre-recorded and played to the audience at the awards ceremony) could not be included in the YouTube clip.

Here’s some more info on the other books that were on the shortlist.

The judges wrote that The Lyrics was: “A work of art”; “a unique piece of publishing”; and a book that “belongs in a museum, not just our bookshelves.” They praised the two-volume set as a “fantastic visual diary”, singling out the original hand-written lyrics.

The book was supported by a free exhibition at the British Library and McCartney in Conversation at the Southbank Royal Festival Hall.

Publishers Allen Lane coordinated a global launch, simultaneously in 11 languages, attaining extensive broadsheet and radio coverage. Plus the book was released in multiple translations.

McCartney ‘The Lyrics’ – How Many Translations?

While looking around the web shopping for Paul McCartney’s fabulous new book The Lyrics, we stumbled across a couple of different translations, and it got us wondering how many countries were getting versions of the book in their own language?

There are of course two main English editions. The two most common of these are the US edition in the green outer box:

And there’s the UK edition – which has exactly the same content as the US, but externally is quite different in design:

Also worthy of mention is a third English language version of the book: the Limited Edition. This one is actually signed by Sir Paul. There have reportedly been just 175 copies made available worldwide, though as one reader points out there have been two different signed books with the number #95 sold on eBay. Each had a different publishing logo, raising doubt on the accuracy of “175 worldwide”. Maybe it is 175 in the US, and 175 in the UK. Either way, it comes in a distinctive bright orange box with blue lettering. The design inside is quite unique too – including the two volumes inside which are also in that distinctive orange binding:

Then we get onto the translations, and those we’ve been able to uncover (to date) all seem to have the same outer box and book binding as the US green version above.

Here is the German:

And the Dutch language edition:

Next up is the Spanish:

And close by (in terms of geography) there is the Portuguese:

There is a French language edition too, and it seems to come with an outer box re-design as well:

The Italian translation has only just been released (9 November). There aren’t any great images of how it is packaged yet – but we’ve asked one of the translators and can confirm that this is the cover:

As you can see, like the French edition, the Italians have gone for a white outer box. The translation has been done by Franco Zanetti and Luca Parasi, who is author of the highly regarded Paul McCartney reference book Recording Sessions (1969-2013).

A further confirmation that this is the way the Italian edition is presented are the images in this advertisement that the publishers, Rizzoli Libri, was running on Amazon:

And finally, two unexpected translations – one in Finnish:

And the other in Swedish (thanks to reader Ole for sending this one in). Interesting that the front covers of the two books inside appear to have the images and super-imposed lyrics used for the rear covers of the books in the rest of the world:

Is that all? Do you know of any others?

Let us know using the ‘Leave a Reply’ link below if you have any updates and we’ll publish them here.

Listen to McCartney Read from “The Lyrics”

If you’re keen on hearing Paul McCartney actually reading from his new book The Lyrics, then you’ll be interested to learn that BBC Sounds in the UK has produced a short audio series called Paul McCartney: Inside the Songs.

The series features ten audio extracts from The Lyrics book, with the author himself reading aloud 10 of the entries.

Check out the Introduction here:

Then, follow the links here to listen to all ten episodes. They include songs like ‘All My Loving’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Got to Get You into My Life’, right up to ‘Pretty Boys’ from last year’s McCartney III album.

The Lyrics spans McCartney’s career writing popular music from 1956 to the present. In it he talks about his life and song-writing through the prism of 154 key lyrics.

Host of Inside the Songs, John Wilson, also interviewed Paul McCartney extensively for an episode of the BBC series This Cultural Life. You can hear that interview in full here (or just click on the image below):

Paul McCartney – ‘Grandude’s Green Submarine’ Book and Audio Book

Two new McCartney items to add to the collection today.

Paul McCartney has written another children’s book. It follows on from his Hey Grandude!, kids story released in 2019.

This one is Grandude’s Green Submarine and once again the story has been illustrated by the talentented Canadian artist, Kathryn Durst.

And, as with the previous title, there’s also a separate audio book on CD – with McCartney not only reading his story but also providing the original music. This is along similar lines to the Hey Grandude! audio book, but the music is different and its played by him and band member, Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens.

Firstly, here’s the book cover, front and rear. It’s a large-format hardback with a protective dust jacket:

Just like the Hey Grandude! book, if you take the dust jacket off, there’s a completely different cover design underneath, front and rear:

The design of the book is stylishly done and has lots of nice touches. Here are two pages from inside to give you a feel for the contents:

And this is the audio book CD, which has Paul himself reading the book. Penguin Books has once again packaged this up nicely in a gatefold cover with a decent booklet. The CD takes all the elements from the book and carries them through the whole design. Here’s the front cover:

And the rear:

They’ve gone to some trouble, making it a gatefold:

And here’s the booklet containing the credits (and two biographies):

(As usual, click on the images to see larger versions)

McCartney – ‘The Lyrics’ Book

Does this 78 year-old ever stop?

The latest content announced from the ever-prolific Paul McCartney is to be a comprehensive, two-volume book examining the lyrics to 154 of his songs dating back to 1956 and progressing to the present day. And it really looks like is going to be something special.

Simply called The Lyrics, the 960 pages will feature never-before seen photographs, letters, drafts, and more.

The Lyrics is edited by the Irish Pulitzer Prize–winning author and poet Paul Muldoon, who also penned the introduction. It is based on conversations with McCartney about his songs and his songwriting craft, conducted over a five year period.

“These commentaries are as close to an autobiography as we may ever come,” Muldoon said in press materials. “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.”

Rather than a traditional autobiography, the book will cover the inspiration behind the lyrics and McCartney’s reflections on them. It won’t be in chronological order, but alphabetical.

The book itself is two hardcover volumes that slide into an outer slipcase. The volumes will not be available separately and each one is 480 pages in length. The outer slipcase of the UK edition features the same photograph, taken by Paul’s brother Mike, that was used as the cover to McCartney’s 2005 album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.The US edition appears to have a different, plain green outer slipcase, and a different spine:

The Lyrics will be published on November 2.

See also The Lyrics: Special Edition; Paul McCartney reading from The Lyrics; and The Lyrics: How Many Translations?

Harrison on Harrison – A New Book

George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters is a new anthology of the words of George Harrison by Grammy Award winning author Ashley Kahn.

Being a Beatle (and an ex-Beatle) meant that Harrison was interviewed literally thousands of times over the course of his life. This carefully curated and chronologically arranged anthology pulls together some of his most revealing and illuminating interviews, personal correspondences and writings. It spans the years 1962 to 2001 and provides a remarkable insight into the man he really was. You come away from this book with evidence that George Harrison was way more than just “the quiet Beatle“. He was an articulate, funny, candid and deeply spiritual human being.

In many cases Kahn has uncovered interview tapes that have never been shared publicly in full before, and he includes them here unfiltered, without bias or interpretation.

Some of the stand-outs for us are the interviews by David Wigg, Anthony DeCurtis and Maureen Cleave. Cleave wrote a fascinating piece on Harrison for the London Evening Standard in 1966 entitled “How a Beatle Lives. Part 3: George Harrison—Avocado with Everything . . . ”.  Now, remember, he’s just 23 years old at this point in time but in the second paragraph of Cleave’s article she states that Harrison is: “…a strong-willed and uncompromising character with a strict regard for what he considers to be the truth, and an even stricter regard for his own rights.” This is a trait that stayed with him throughout his life.

Three years later, David Wigg asks Harrison how he comes to terms with fame and being a Beatle:

George Harrison: All I’m doing, I’m acting out the part of Beatle George, and, you know, we’re all acting out our own parts. The world is a stage and the people are the players. Shakespeare said that. And he’s right, you know.

David Wigg: Do you expect another part, later?

Harrison: Oh, many parts. Yes.

Wigg: Is that why you’ve come to terms with it?

Harrison: Yes, because you just do whatever you can do. I mean, even if it’s being a Beatle for the rest of my life, it’s still only a temporary thing. And, I mean really, all we did was get born and live so many years and this is what happened. I got born seemingly to become Beatle George. But it doesn’t really matter who you are or what you are, because that’s only a temporary sort of tag for a limited sort of period of years.

That approach to life (in this temporal world and beyond) were to remain a constant.

Nearly twenty years later, in an interview with Anthony DeCurtis for Rolling Stone magazine around the time of the release of the album Cloud Nine, Harrison was still looking to keep the same even keel to his life, to keep things in perspective:

DeCurtis: One of the things about it, in mentioning that, you’ve always been a person who’s taken such care to keep a private life, to maintain that kind of thing. Does it feel sort of strange to be back in the record company office, sitting down, interviews, tapings? All this business?

Harrison: Not really, not really. I feel it’s like, sort of, say, somebody who is a fireman, or something, and he doesn’t sit around in his fireman suit all of his life. But when he goes to work he puts it on and he goes and gets on his fire engine. It’s sort of like that. Once I’ve done all this bit, I’ll walk away and I’m still . . . I mean it’s only the moment I’m in Warner Brothers office, or, somebody comes up to me and says, “Hey, will you sign this record,” or something, that I’m conscious of being an ex-Beatle and being George Harrison. I don’t live my life thinking that I’m this sort of . . . pop person. And so I think, now even more so, it’s just much easier for me to talk to people. I just talk to them like one human to another. And although that’s all superimposed on top of my being, all this past and present, but I just walk away from these interviews and just carry on as if nothing happened.

Of course being based in Australia we were pleased to see included a 1988 interview by the respected Australian journalist, Ray Martin, who got another perspective on how Harrison counteracted that “Beatle George Harrison” expectation that accompanied him wherever he went:

Martin: There is a quote….of you saying that “I have to be more ordinary than ordinary people are.” Why do you have to be more ordinary?

Harrison: [Chuckles.] Well, because, um, people have—we all have concepts of each other, you know? And the concept is, somebody see[s] me on a plane or in the streets or something, and they immediately remember all this Beatle stuff, and they have this concept of me as that person. But in reality, I don’t go around thinking of myself as “George Harrison the Beatle,” or whatever. I do now because I’m on the television, but normally I’m just like you, you know, just like everybody else; I’m just a human, and sometimes you have to, rather than just be ordinary, you have to make an effort to be more ordinary, in as much as that they will calm down and try to see that there’s actually a person in here [gestures toward himself]—other than this big myth about the Beatles. That’s all.

This is just one of many themes running through the content painstakingly gathered together for this book. George’s words reveal the complexity of his character: wise but at times naïve, sensitive but also self-deprecating, and always refreshingly, unabashedly human. As editor Ashley Kahn writes in his preface: “Read his words and know the man. Read, and know a life well-lived.

George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters is published by Chicago Review Press.

As a side note, Chicago Review Press has an extensive number of titles done in the same style as this book. They are part of a ‘Musicians In Their Own Words’ series, and the list of artists is lengthy including Dylan, Coltrane, Joni Mitchell, Bowie and Miles Davis – to name but a few. One you might also want to seek out is Lennon on Lennon: Conversations with John Lennon.

McCartney – Ten Years of Archive Reissues

Perhaps surprisingly, it’s now been a decade since Paul McCartney started his Archive Collection reissue campaign. There have been 12 albums given the Archive treatment so far, and they are about to added to in July with the release of Flaming Pie.

To mark the tenth anniversary, Paul Sinclair at the Super Deluxe Edition site has put together a special 52-page keepsake booklet featuring reviews of all the reissues to date and some additional analysis and features. The booklet is the same size and format as the books that come in the Archive Collection box sets, so it can be easily stored alongside them.

McCartney: 10 Years of Archive Reissues will feature in-depth illustrated reviews of the McCartney reissues via a combination of archive content from the SuperDeluxeEdition.com website (some of it updated), alongside new reviews and fresh insight.

Sinclair has a bit of a track record already with these booklets. You might recall the one he issued for the Flowers In The Dirt Archive Collection releases. If that was anything to go by, this new one will be well worth getting hold of too.

There will be only 1000 numbered copies of McCartney: 10 Years of Archive Reissues produced, and it’s only available via the SDE shop.

If you want to find out a little more on the details you can read about it here.