Paul McCartney talks Beatlemania, privacy and love for Lennon at first in person event in two years

By Adam Davidson

Paul McCartney has appeared in conversation discussing his new career-spanning book, The Lyrics – a collaboration with award-winning poet and author Paul Muldoon.

The book, written over five years, gives devoted fans a chance to see never before seen photographs, letters and drafts from one of the greatest songwriters of all time.

During the event at the Royal Festival Hall on Friday, November 5, Mr McCartney reflected on his life, his songs and his creative process with co-author Mr Muldoon.

The 90-minute conversation with The Beatles legend, chaired by journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed, gave the audience an honest insight into a wide range of topics from the loss of his mother at 14, his love for buses and Liverpool.

Particular highlights were when Mr McCartney talked about his experiences in The Beatles and John Lennon.

Mr Muldoon said: “One of the wonderful things to come out of this book was your love for [Lennon] and that you never told him you loved him.”

In response, Mr McCartney said that it just ‘wasn’t done’ and that two young teenage boys from a working-class Liverpool background would not tell one another that they loved each other.

He said: “I never got around to it, so now it’s great to realise how much I love this man.”

Mr McCartney was also open about the effects that the mad hysteria that constantly surrounded The Beatles had on him as an individual.

George Harrison once described the fab four as ‘forced rhubarb’ – something forced to grow and mature too quickly.

When asked about this, Mr McCartney said there was a sense of intense pressure at a young age when Beatlemania kicked off.

He said that the lads from Liverpool could no longer be the ‘happy-go-lucky guys down the pub’, that peaceful and working-class lifestyle was now unattainable.

As part of the audience Q&A, in which questions were submitted in advance, Mr McCartney was asked: “What has it cost to be Paul McCartney?”

He said his privacy, adding: “I made that decision early on when I could see what was happening with The Beatles.”

The lack of privacy in the UK meant that the band particularly enjoyed their holidays in Greece where they could enjoy some anonymity, with the locals more interested in musicians playing the bouzouki – until The Beatles made it big in Greece a year later.

The event hosted by the Southbank Centre in partnership with Penguin Live celebrated Mr McCartney’s new book, The Lyrics, which was released on November 2.

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