Paul McCartney pitched the first two episodes of the new podcast A Life in Lyricsthe audio series based on the book The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present written by the Beatles frontman and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon which collects conversations on the lyrics of 154 songs written by McCartney over the course of your career. The podcast in 12 episodes, released on a weekly basis, offers an abridged version of the anecdotes from the anthology and will come back with a second season of as many episodes in February 2024.
The first episode of the podcast is dedicated to Eleanor Rigbysong taken from the Fab Four album Revolvers of 1966. The song, partly inspired by McCartney’s experience as a boy scout who then did odd jobs for elderly people, takes its title from a name read on a tombstone in the company of John Lennon and contains the line “wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door” inspired by her mother’s love for creams. The group’s frontman recounted the origins of the names of the main characters of the text and the compliments of the poet of the Beat Generation Allen Ginsberg, who defined the work as “a great poem”. For McCartney, the song is like a film: “There are two protagonists who are alone; her, and then him. There is no sympathy for him, but he is alone. So “all the lonely people now” becomes the refrain. She dies and he is the one who buries her: he cleans his hands, walks away from the grave, “no one was saved”. For the music, however, the singer-songwriter also drew inspiration from the repetitive and sharp strings of Bernard Herrmann’s soundtrack for the horror classic Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock.
BACK IN THE USSR
The second episode of the podcast is dedicated to Back In the USSRthe ironic song taken from The White Album from 1968 which contains influences from Chuck Berry and the Beach Boys. As reported by NME, between the 1960s and 1980s the Soviet Union banned the import and reproduction of the music of the Beatles and many other Western artists. “Everyone in Russia goes back to the Beatles and remembers having to smuggle records,” McCartney said. “You didn’t want the authorities to know you were listening to this forbidden band, and we actually liked the idea of being smuggled like Levi’s jeans. It was like a real cultural arrival.”