It was somewhat frustrating reading reviews of Paul McCartney’s new two-volume book, The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, not knowing whether its publisher Paul Muldoon asked about McCartney’s Irish heritage and its connection to them in his songs.
But an interview with the Belfast-based Irish News newspaper finally addressed the matter, and Muldoon said he and McCartney really clicked due to their Irish origins.
Muldoon said: “We were on the same page, in a way that made it easier, but there is a complicating factor in being a Beatle… it gives him a whole different flavor. “
The Irish News article, written by Richard Purden, says: “Muldoon, the son of a farmer and a schoolteacher, grew up in Moy – on the Armagh side of the ‘border’ with Tyrone – says the Irish heritage was a notable aspect of their (Muldoon and McCartney) shared history.The Catholic mother and Protestant father of McCartney both shared a rich Irish lineage.
“We were brought up the same way,” Muldoon confirms. “I don’t think there was as much religion in his house, but there was Christian and more specifically Catholic iconography in some songs.”
The Beatles classic “Let it Be” is the key example of Catholic influence, Muldoon said, because it’s about “resignation, it’s also a very Catholic worldview; here we are all in this veil of tears, get used to it.
“Of course, Mother Mary has a Catholic sense, she is honored in the Catholic tradition in a way that she is not in the Protestant faith.”
In the interview, Muldoon notes that he and McCartney “come from a particular tradition, we both call ourselves Paul for the same reason, the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul on June 29.
“Frankly he is very aware of his Irish roots, his family setting seems to be recognizable to many Irish people. Seems like it was a party house or a cèilidh house with someone who often played the piano, had a drink or told a story. “
Muldoon praised McCartney for his song “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” after Bloody Sunday, saying McCartney was advised not to release his 1972 number one Irish single with Wings.
“I think it was a perfectly legitimate position,” Muldoon says. “The basic idea is not unreasonable.”
McCartney admits it was seen by some as “a rallying cry for the IRA,” and Muldoon added, “It certainly wasn’t written to be one.”
Muldoon found the John Lennon / McCartney relationship fascinating.
“John Lennon’s portrayal is beautifully complex,” Muldoon said during the interview.
“It’s a love that comes through in the book, and towards the end of John Lennon’s life they were in a good position. They communicated and hung out to some extent.”
Muldoon says that McCartney and the Beatles invented Liverpool, which went from a dark industrial city to one of the most famous places on the planet thanks to the Beatles.
“What comes to mind is a phrase from Oscar Wilde: ‘There was no fog before Dickens, no sunsets before Turner.’ To extend this idea, there had been no Dublin before Joyce. These artists make up the place, ”Muldoon said.
“In a certain sense, Van Morrison invented Belfast while writing about the buns of Paris and Fitzroy Avenue and in a weird way the Beatles invented Liverpool … among other things.”
* This column first appeared in the November 24 edition of the weekly Irish Voice, sister publication of IrishCentral.