McCartney: A Life in Lyrics

McCartney: A Life in Lyrics

McCartney: A Life in Lyrics offers listeners the opportunity to sit in on conversations between Paul McCartney and poet Paul Muldoon dissecting the people, experiences, and art that inspired McCartney’s songwriting. These conversations were held during the past several years as the two collaborated on the award winning book, “The Lyrics: 1965 to Present.” Over two seasons and 24 episodes of “McCartney: A Life in Lyrics”, you’ll hear a combination master class, memoir, and improvised journey with one of the most beloved figures in popular music. Each episode focuses on one song from McCartney’s iconic catalog – spanning early Beatles through his solo work. Season 2 premieres on February 7th. “McCartney: A Life in Lyrics” is a co-production between iHeart Media, MPL and Pushkin Industries. Cover Portrait © 1967 Paul McCartney / Photographer: Linda McCartney


July 18, 2023 8 mins

Welcome to "McCartney: A Life in Lyrics"This podcast will take you into the mind of one of the greatest songwriters of all time: Paul McCartney. The result is a combination master class, memoir, and improvised journey with one of the most beloved figures in popular music. Each episode focuses on one song from McCartney’s iconic catalog – spanning early Beatles th...

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Face cream, a Bristol liquor business, and a lifelong reverence for the elderly are just a few of the rather ordinary and disparate inspirations Paul McCartney brought together in the creation of a masterpiece: “Eleanor Rigby.” In this episode, McCartney and Paul Muldoon tease out the song's lyrical inspirations and discuss the influence a Bernard Herrmann score for a Hitchcock film had on the lead single from 1966’s “Revolver."


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October 4, 2023 18 mins

What’s Paul McCartney, a Liverpudlian, doing writing about the Soviet Union in 1968? Turns out McCartney was doing a little Chuck Berry, a bit of The Beach Boys, some pastiche and a lot of subversion. Opening “The White Album”, “Back in the U.S.S.R.” raised some eyebrows. And because of The Beatles’ evolving position within the former Eastern Bloc the song has over the years taken on a life of its own, following the trajectory of t...

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October 11, 2023 21 mins

Paul McCartney’s mother Mary passed away in 1956, when Paul was only 14 years old. Over a decade later, she appeared to him in a dream, lending a few immortal words of wisdom: “Let it be.” These words arrived in time to help see Paul through the difficult days after The Beatles’ gave up touring to enter the studio full time. And, of course, they went on to become the basis of the song that’s now a popular standard and the title of ...

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October 18, 2023 25 mins

At the dawn of the Beatles’ dissolution, Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, started to spend an increasing amount of time in the Scottish countryside. Sequestered at their farm near the Mull of Kintyre, McCartney found refuge in his family, his animals, and in fixing up their homestead. The ease and charm of country living was documented in “When Winter Comes” from 2020’s McCartney III. And in 1977 his ode to life on the family fa...

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October 25, 2023 22 mins

As a young boy, Paul McCartney soaked up the radio plays his mother listened to while cleaning around their house. They gave McCartney an expansive understanding of characterization, something he’s been able to do astonishingly well in his own work throughout his writing career. The song “Penny Lane” may sound like much of the psychedelic musings that was common by the late 60s, but the song is actually a beautifully abstract descr...

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November 1, 2023 20 mins

As Paul McCartney’s life moved further away from the centering force of Liverpool, the distance, both physical and cultural, started becoming increasingly apparent. It's a distance described by Paul as inevitable, if regrettable. “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey” is Paul’s expression of the dual longing for home one can experience while also longing to create a new life full of adventure. Released on Paul and Linda’s “RAM” album in 1...

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November 8, 2023 23 mins

Warning: This episode begins with a description of the assassination of John Lennon.

John Lennon’s assassination has reverberated across decades, country and culture. On the 8th of December, 1980 the world lost one of its greatest creative forces and advocates for peace. And Paul McCartney lost even more: a collaborator, a bandmate, and a dear friend. As McCartney sat in the upstairs room of his Sussex home, mourning his loss, he ...

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November 15, 2023 18 mins

James Bond themes were handled by soulful or sultry vocalists in the decade since 1963’s “From Russia With Love.” Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and even Louis Armstrong had taken turns singing themes and secondary themes for the films. The Broccoli family who produces the James Bond franchise expected nothing less when they asked Paul McCartney to write the theme for “Live and Let Die.” What they didn’t expect was for him to perform it...

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November 22, 2023 22 mins

“Magical Mystery Tour” was inspired by a holiday bus from Liverpool to a mystery destination—often ending up in the carnivalesque seaside town of Blackpool. It’s one of the best examples of The Beatles further dipping into the era’s psychedelic subculture. The production of the song delivers a dense and lively atmosphere, from the opening brass fanfare to the flanging piano in the coda.

“McCartney: A Life in Lyrics” is a co-produc...

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November 29, 2023 24 mins

“Long Tailed Winter Bird,” “Bluebird,” and “Single Pigeon” are just a few of the many bird-oriented songs Paul McCartney has written over the years. His love of ornithology extends back before his songwriting days to his early childhood. “Blackbird”, one of the most universally cherished songs in his canon, was born of that love and worked well with the civil rights allusions that were the song’s subtext. The latter day companion o...

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December 6, 2023 25 mins

Many observers have tried to pinpoint the specific events that lead to Lennon-McCartney, the formidable songwriting partnership, transitioning to Lennon v. McCartney. But the fact is there is no single truth regarding why the beloved duo split. So instead of investigating the why, we look at the aftermath: legal battles, hurtful accusations in song and, ultimately, a sense of resolution. “Too Many People” opens Paul and Linda McCar...

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December 13, 2023 23 mins

Season 1 of “McCartney: A Life in Lyrics” concludes with a band in flux. The Beatles had evolved significantly by 1968 from when they first released “Love Me Do.” Back then, they were only competing with the likes of Andy Williams, Little Stevie Wonder, and Peter Paul and Mary. But by the recording of the “White Album" The Beatles were up against acts on the charts with a more hard driving sound like Cream, The Who, and Sly and the...

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Season Two of McCartney: A Life in Lyrics comes out weekly starting February 7th, and features the stories behind songs like Yesterday, Band on the Run, Here, There and Everywhere, Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me) and many more. Binge the entire season early and ad-free starting February 7th by subscribing to Pushkin+ on our Apple show page or at

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February 7, 2024 25 mins

Countless decisions, large and small, aided The Beatles’ ascent to the top of popular culture. The release of their debut single, “Love Me Do,” in the UK in the fall of 1962 was one of those decisions. Their debut on American television was another. In this first episode of season two, Paul McCartney and Paul Muldoon discuss the early evolution of The Beatles.

“McCartney: A Life in Lyrics” is a co-production between iHeart Media, ...

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February 7, 2024 29 mins

Paul McCartney found himself in a tricky place after The Beatles’ break up. What did his musical future look like without the three musicians he’d spent half of his life building a musical rapport with? McCartney’s other band, Wings, and an impromptu tour of UK colleges helped him find his footing.

“McCartney: A Life in Lyrics” is a co-production between iHeart Media, MPL and Pushkin Industries.

The series was produced by Pejk Ma...

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February 14, 2024 20 mins

One day in the car, Paul McCartney heard a BBC production of the absurdist play “Ubu Cocu” by french writer Alfred Jarry.  Taken by the rebelliousness of the radio play, McCartney wrote a sweet-sounding tune about a murderous medical student that seemingly lives in the same universe as Ubu: “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.”

“McCartney: A Life in Lyrics” is a co-production between iHeart Media, MPL and Pushkin Industries.

The series was ...

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