cover image BLACKBIRD SINGING: Poems andLyrics 1965–1999

BLACKBIRD SINGING: Poems andLyrics 1965–1999

Paul McCartney, BLACKBIRD SINGING: Poems andLyrics 1965–1999

Sir Paul McCartney—painter, composer and songwriter (even the Queen taps her feet to "Penny Lane")—has been steadily writing poetry along with the lyrics memorized by much of the world. British political poet and satirist Adrian Mitchell (who is well-known over there, and best represented by Heart on the Left: Selected Poems 1953–1984 over here) worked as a Daily Mail pop critic in 1963 and published the first national interview with the Beatles, remaining friends with McCartney since. In consultation with Sir Paul, he has selected from among McCartney's works. There are the grand and expected songs, such as "Hey Jude," "Yesterday" and "Eleanor Rigby"; ditties like "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da" and surreal oddities like "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window"; elegies for McCartney's wife, Linda Eastman McCartney, and for friend Ivan Vaughan; and a variety of verse, such as "To Find the Joy": "Seagulls spiral whirl/ Against the sullen oak/ No scientific thought informs/ Their madcap tribal swirl." As Mitchell writes: "Clean out your head. Wash out the name and the fame. Read these clear words and listen to them—decide for yourself." (Apr. 23)

Forecast: While McCartney is of a completely different cast than Bob Dylan, his appeal may be even greater than that of the latter great poet/songwriter. Expect strong and steady sales after a solid showing on bestseller lists. Mitchell's latest collection, All Shook Up: Poems 1997–2000, is due this month and includes "Gourmet Architecture, Troy, New York": "It might take a year or two/ But, with its cherry-red perfect bricks/ United by vanilla ice cement/ I could eat the Marine Midland Bank." (Bloodaxe [Dufour, dist.], $19.95 paper 128p ISBN 1-85224-513-1)