Paul McCartney discusses songwriting process in new Q&A celebrating release of ‘The Lyrics’ book

©Mary McCartney

Paul McCartney‘s new book, The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, was released today.

As previously reported, the two-volume book profiles 154 songs McCartney wrote throughout his career, and features his commentary about each tune, as well as handwritten lyric sheets, rare personal photos, drawings and rough drafts of songs.

To celebrate The Lyrics‘ publication, Sir Paul has answered several fan-submitted questions about his songwriting as part of a new installment of his website’s “You Gave Me the Answer” feature.

One fan asked if, while putting the book together, “lyrics or memories…came back to you and reminded you of a time you’d forgotten,” to which McCartney responded that reviewing some of his tunes wound up being like visiting a psychiatrist for him.

“[R]evisiting the first song I ever wrote ‘I Lost My Little Girl’…kind of turned into a therapy session, because I thought I was happily writing a little pop song when I was fourteen,” he noted, “but if you look at the timing of it I had just lost my mother.” Paul added that it made him realize he may have subliminally written the tune about his mom.

He also pointed out that “Yesterday” may have been partly inspired by losing his mother. McCartney said thinking about the writing of other songs brought back “surprising memories,” such as hitchhiking trips he took with John Lennon and George Harrison.

Asked if he had rules or a formula for writing a song, McCartney said definitely not. “[I]t’s not like building a car or fixing a television, it’s something that is very different each time you do it,” he noted. “In fact, you don’t want to learn a set of rules because that’s what keeps it interesting!”

Check out the full Q&A at

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