Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The Beatles facts for "Yesterday" are especially interesting since this McCartney composition has been one of the most covered songs in rock and roll history. Issued on the Help! LP (the British version), it was also released as a single in the U.S. on September 13, 1965. Ironically, it wasn't released as a single in the UK until 1976 because the group did not anticipate "Yesterday" being such a huge hit. It was a radical departure from previous Beatles hits, but in retrospect, it was a precursor to the vast diversity and creativity the band would display on later albums and singles. It was also the first time that a band member performed solo on an album or single.

"Yesterday" was recorded on June 14, 1965 at Abbey Road Studios. It was recorded just a few hours after McCartney recorded the very raw "I'm Down." George Martin recorded McCartney singing while playing his Epiphone acoustic in one take. Other vocal takes were made, but none seemed an improvement on the original. Martin later scored the strings and overdubbed them onto the main track.

Lennon originally thought that this was one of Paul's greatest songs, although Lennon and Harrison later teased McCartney for always bringing up the song in conversation. (This in itself was a precursor to later arguments within the band that McCartney was starting to emphasize his own efforts and talents too much--and at the expense of the others.) Even later, after the band's break-up, John Lennon criticized McCartney harshly for bragging on the song so much.

McCartney believed at the time that it was the most "complete" song he'd written up to that point. That having been said, he stated in 1980 that although the lyrics work very well, the song evokes a mood or feeling as opposed to telling a coherent story.

The history of the song's composition is legendary. McCartney awoke with the tune in his head, unsure if he were remembering a song he'd heard somewhere else, possibly years before. He therefore played the chords for many people, asking if they were familiar with the melody. He finally became convinced that it was an original composition--his own--one that had come to him almost "too easily." The working title for the song was "Scrambled Eggs."

The song has been covered by more than 2700 artists, and this is a conservative estimate. The song was performed live by McCartney during the Beatles' tours of 1965 and 1966. He also performed the song on the 1976 Wings Over America tour.

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