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.

New Book: The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 4

How did The Beatles get the particular and unique sounds they achieved on their records?

If that’s a question you’ve been asking, then you’ll find a lot of the answers in a series of books written by Canadian musician, producer and recording engineer Jerry Hammack.

To date Jerry has produced an impressive body of work across three previous volumes in what he calls The Beatles Recording Reference Manuals (check out our reviews of Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3). In these books you’ll discover in intricate detail how The Beatles went about the recording process: the studios and equipment they used, their instruments, personnel, processes and recording dates and times. In short, just how they created their masterpieces.

Well, released today is the latest instalment in the series, The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 4: The Beatles through Yellow Submarine (1968-early 1969).

This new book picks up where the third left off, covering the period 1968 and early 1969. The songs recorded for the double LP, The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) are dealt with in great detail. By comparison Yellow Submarine, which is included due to it’s release in the time span covered, isn’t. That’s because most of the Beatle songs used for that project (except for ‘Hey Bulldog’) were recorded earlier and are covered off in previous volumes. Also included here are the singles ‘Lady Madonna’/’The Inner Light’ and ‘Hey Jude’/’Revolution’.

This series is a labour of love that has taken Jerry Hammack more than ten years to complete, and this latest volume serves as a fantastic companion to last year’s remixed and remastered 50th anniversary edition of The Beatles double LP.

You can follow the journey of each song, from first take to final mix. There are text explanations and simple diagrams detailing what occurred in the studio as each track became the songs that we know and love today.

As Hammack says: “We are aware of most of the “when” and “where”, but the “what was done?” isn’t always clear. We rarely know what guitars or amplifiers were used on a song-by-song basis. There is even less knowledge about the format of the recordings or the studio equipment used on a specific song or session. It takes a lot of detective work to figure these facts out, and a number of popular sources for the information are in conflict, out of date, or just plain wrong. A picture of the work that comprised the creation of each song must be assembled like a jigsaw puzzle. Thus began my quest to research, gather and organize both the narrative and core technical details of each of the classic Beatles recording sessions.”

The background introductions to each song often contain some pertinent observations. Take this one for ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’:

“The fact that McCartney would insist on beating the song to death over eight recording sessions, and three different versions, would only add fuel to the fire of frustration. While songs like Penny Lane or Strawberry Fields Forever had taken more sessions to record, they were perfected in a spirit of cooperation, where everyone was on-board regarding the value of the work being done. Times had changed. No doubt the extent of the animosity surrounding The Beatles sessions was somewhat exaggerated (though Starr did walk out, Martin deliberately absented himself, and business affairs under Apple were another matter). However, the seeds of the band’s ultimate unravelling through a single member’s insistence on his own particular vision were undoubtedly planted here. Bra.”

As in previous volumes there are numerous appendices at the back of the book covering the different release versions, gear and instruments used, and more.

Bring on the fifth and final volume that will cover the period 1969 to early 1970 (Let It Be and Abbey Road) where maybe, finally, the lengthy and sometimes tedious debate on Beatle chat rooms at the moment about who played drums on ‘Old Brown Shoe’ might finally be put to rest! (If you’re interested in this discussion it’s on this particular thread beginning about here. It continues for about fifty pages…..)

In the meantime, try and get yourself a copy of Jerry Hammack’s The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 4. Check it out here on Amazon.

Two Beatle-related Book Finds

Around this time last year we came across a library having a bit of a clean out of duplicated titles. They’d set up a small tresle table outside and had a pile of books for sale at bargain prices (i.e. for free!).

Our policy is that it is always worth a look. If you don’t look, you don’t find. And sure enough there were a couple of titles of interest.

Well, it happened again – this time at a different library. Picking through about a hundred or so books we discovered a vintage paperback edition of John Lennon’s A Spaniard in the Works:

Initially released in 1965, this was a 1980 UK paperback re-press. The pages are a little browned with age, but otherwise this is in near mint condition:The $1.50 sticker on the front appears to be the original price here in Australia!

The other was the Paul McCartney children’s book High in the Clouds:

Written by McCartney and Philip Ardagh, and with delightful illustrations by Geoff Dunbar, this hardback edition was released in 2005 and is in excellent condition. This is a US first edition. The dust jacket is a little scuffed, but otherwise the book looks unused:(As usual click on images to see larger versions)

The Complete Beatles Songs – The Stories Behind Every Track Written by The Fab Four

Here’s a nice little Christmas stocking-filler for you.

If you’re on the lookout for a decent Beatle book this holiday season, you should consider The Complete Beatles Songs – The Stories Behind Every Track Written by The Fab Four. It is written by the respected music writer, Steve Turner, and has just been re-published in a paperback format:

This book has actually been around in a couple of different forms and editions dating back as far as 1994.

You might know it as A Hard Day’s Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song, and over the years more than 440,000 copies have been sold. That’s because when it was first released the book was a first of its kind, a definitive examination of Beatle lyrics all gathered together in one complete package.

And this is why it has stayed in print, and why it is regularly updated and re-issued with new information as it comes to hand, and as new titles in the Beatles discography are added. It has been expanded considerably over the years with new findings added, and it has jettisoned some false information along the way too.

The book’s purpose is the definitive analysis of the words of the songs. It includes the full lyrics to each, and details why, how and where the recordings were created. The meaning behind each song is explored, as are the characters, places and themes. It is richly illustrated throughout too.

Steve Turner is a journalist, biographer and poet who writes about music, and has done so for a wide range of publications over many years. He’s the author of a number of books, and in 2016 wrote the critically acclaimed Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year.

As he writes in the Introduction to The Complete Beatles Songs, “More than forty years since the band stopped playing, those songs still mean something to us. They are like old friends who we met when we were young and who made life a little more exciting and easier to cope with. Because of what they did for us, we heave great affection for them. It is because we hold such affection for them that it makes sense to find out where they came from”.

So, maybe your old copy of Steve Turner’s original is getting a bit dog-eared and beaten-up, or you just want to get this latest, updated edition, or maybe this will be your very first copy of this essential book. Either way, The Complete Beatles Songs should find it’s place in every serious Beatle collector’s library.

The edition shown here was re-issued in paperback by Carlton Books in October this year.(As usual, click on the images for larger versions)