Sir Paul McCartney is publishing his lyrics, beginning with his “earliest boyhood compositions”.
The book, to be released in November, is billed as a “self-portrait in 154 songs”.
He said the lyrics span “my entire life” and serve “much the same purpose” as a diary.
The ex-Beatle said: “More often than I can count, I’ve been asked if I would write an autobiography, but the time has never been right.
“The one thing I’ve always managed to do, whether at home or on the road, is to write new songs.
“I know that some people, when they get to a certain age, like to go to a diary to recall day-to-day events from the past, but I have no such notebooks.
“What I do have are my songs, hundreds of them, which I’ve learned serve much the same purpose. And these songs span my entire life.”
Publishers said Sir Paul recounts his life and art through 154 songs from all stages of his career.
They include his compositions as a boy, Beatles’ songs, to Wings, his solo albums and the present.
The book describes the circumstances in which the lyrics were written, the people and places that inspired them and what he thinks of them now.
It will also feature material from Sir Paul’s personal archive, such as drafts, letters, and never-seen-before photographs.
Sir Paul added: “I hope that what I’ve written will show people something about my songs and my life which they haven’t seen before.
“I’ve tried to say something about how the music happens and what it means to me and I hope what it may mean to others too.”
The book’s editor, author Paul Muldoon, said: “Based on conversations I had with Paul McCartney over a five-year period, these commentaries are as close to an autobiography as we may ever come.
“His insights into his own artistic process confirm a notion at which we had but guessed, that Paul McCartney is a major literary figure who draws upon, and extends, the long tradition of poetry in English.”
THE LYRICS: 1956 to the Present by Paul McCartney will be published on November 2.