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Unseen Paul McCartney lyrics including ‘Hey Jude’ on display for first time

Original memorabilia including an early Beatles songlist also features in the 'Paul McCartney: The Lyrics' exhibition

By Charlotte Krol

Paul McCartney pictured at home with his original 'Magic Piano'
Wings' 'Wild Life' will be reissued this Friday (February 4). (Photo: Mary McCartney)

Previously unseen handwritten lyrics by Paul McCartney went on display at the British Library in London today (November 5).

The free exhibition, which runs until March 13, 2022, showcases the ex Beatles bassist/vocalist’s lyrics from across his career. As well as never-before-seen lyrics for Beatles classic ‘Hey Jude’ there are also handwritten notes from McCartney‘s solo songs ‘Pipes Of Peace’ and ‘Jenny Wren’.

‘Paul McCartney: The Lyrics’ also features printed photographs and original memorabilia that includes a look at his work in the band Wings.

Elsewhere in the exhibition fans can view an original drawing by McCartney for his 1990 ‘Put It There’ single as well as original memorabilia including an early Beatles songlist, a postcard of The Beatles in Hamburg, and George Martin’s score for ‘Yesterday’.

Additionally, audio from the British Library’s Sound Archive accompanies each lyric on the approximate 35-piece display.

Andy Linehan, Curator of Popular Music Recordings at the British Library, said in a statement: “The British Library is more than just books; we also hold one of the most extensive collections of popular music in the world.

“It is great to be able to showcase some of our handwritten lyrics and sound recordings alongside previously unseen material from Paul McCartney’s own archive in this display. Handwritten drafts of song lyrics have a special quality – they show that initial spark of creativity – and this is a chance for everyone to see the workings and learn the stories behind the songs of one of the world’s most successful songwriters and performers. We hope this free display inspires new audiences – young and old.”

Additional lyrics by McCartney and The Beatles can be seen in the free, permanent ‘Sir John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures’ of the British Library alongside works by some of McCartney’s literary inspirations including William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll and Virginia Woolf.

The free Entrance Hall Gallery display arrives with the release of McCartney’s new book, ‘The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present’, in which the legendary musician recalls the backstories of 154 songs from all stages of his career. The book is out now.

In addition to the copy of the book, which will be sent to the Library as part of legal deposit, McCartney has also donated a signed limited edition with an exclusive print of a lyric sheet.

Meanwhile, McCartney suggested recently that The Beatles worked from a wider range of influences than their contemporaries, describing the Rolling Stones as a “blues cover band”.