“Yesterday”: the backstory


“Yesterday” is a melancholy ballad in which the singer expresses his regrets about his past. It is a feeling we all experience, when we look back to the times when everything was fine and we had nothing to be worried about. Then we realize we have made mistakes and lost something, and we wish we could turn back time. It may be the break-up of a relationship, the death of a loved person, or simply youth…

The story of its origin is one of the most fascinating in contemporary musical history.
In 1964, the then 21-year-old Paul McCartney composed the melody in a dream while staying at his girlfriend Jane Asher‘s Georgian family home in London’s Marylebone. He slept in a small attic room of the five-story house and had saved enough money to buy a piano that was beside his bed, by the window.mother
When he woke up, he hurried to the piano and began to play the tune, to avoid forgetting it.
In the beginning, he was unsure of its originality: his concern was that he had subconsciously plagiarized someone else’s work. He was almost convinced that it must be one of the old jazz tunes his father listened to, so he played the melody to different people in the music industry to see if they recognized it.
On the set of the movie “Help!” Paul was always bothering people with that song on a piano on one of the stages. The director remembers threatening to remove the piano because McCartney played the tune incessantly: “It got to the point where I said to him, ‘If you play that bloody song any longer I’ll have the piano taken off stage. Either finish it or give it up!”
Once he was convinced that he had not robbed anyone of their melody, McCartney began writing lyrics to suit it. At first, he set some nonsense lyrics to the song, whose working title was “Scrambled Eggs“(which became a running joke among the band for some months, before it was recorded) and opened with: “Scrambled eggs – Oh my baby, how I love your legs.”
McCartney wrote some of the lyrics later, during a five-hour car trip from Lisbon to the southern coast of Portugal, where he was going on vacation with Jane Asher. He said the words suddenly came to him on the long drive from the airport and he scribbled them down on the back of an envelope.

This was the first Beatles song to capture a mass adult market. Most of their fans were young people to this point, but this song gave the band a great deal of credibility among the older crowd.

In a biography about Paul McCartney, it was theorized that this song was actually an homage to his mother, Mary, rather than a lost girlfriend. When he wrote the song, he was still in a relationship with Jane Asher (this relationship would dissolve 4 years later, in 1968). Paul himself admitted that, when his mother died, the first thing he had said was, ‘What are we going to do without her money?’, because he was worried about their future. These may be the wrong words he regretted saying.

29 thoughts on ““Yesterday”: the backstory

  1. Thank you Luisa , I find the origin of the song fascinating and can well believe it came to him just like that.
    He had the sense of playing it whilst still fresh from the dream.

    Wonder is how creations happen


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  2. C’è un curioso parallelismo con la genesi di (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction degli Stones. Il celebre riff di chitarra fu “sognato” da Keith Richards e registrato al risveglio, con l’ausilio di una chitarra acustica, su un registratore portatile. Entrambi i brani, Yesterday e Satisfaction, furono pubblicati nel ’65 e furono un successo mondiale per i rispettivi gruppi.

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      1. Luisa , everything you say everything you print reminds me of something in my life or something GENE said or did you open up the memory bank all the time , well this reminds me of something I was 21 years old we found out I had a very large ovarian tumor the night before I was to leave for the surgery, it was Winter a week before Christmas I was 21 so it was probably 1970 2 3 and so my husband he picked up for $100 this old piano went to church and two men that he knew brought it to our apartment which was an old mansion and we paid $90 a month with heat and hot water and a three-car garage and a stoned in yard and a back porch and security system 15 foot ceilings gargoyles on the ceilings and hardwood floors chandeliers oh my God huge long windows in front just two doors away from the public library I practically lived in that place and hear the evening before my surgery I was terrified we didn’t know if it was cancer or not it was Gene and I Against the World we had Two Kitties Billy and Wally again I was terrified I didn’t know if it was cancer or not and my husband Lifted Me Up and you put me way up high on the top of the piano is one of those stand-up pianos and of course I was only a hundred and thirteen pounds then so it was easier it is little tiny shorty green see through nighty with all black lace down the front and around the hemline and around the shoulder and he gave me a glass of champagne and he had a glass of champagne and he was playing on the piano and he started playing what kind of fool am I and I said no I don’t like that and he said well I play a polar cup I am part polish from my mother and here all of a sudden I put my hand on the side of the piano and I said where did these three nuts doing here my husband looked at it and he said oh my goodness that’s from Billy he was constipated and we laughed and laughed and laughed and went to sleep and I had my surgery the next day of course if he was alive now he probably wouldn’t be able to pick me up all these years have passed many many many years many surgeries but I’m not a hundred and thirteen pounds anymore I’m a little bit bigger than that and he’s long gone but you reminded me with the piano and all the rest thank you thank you thank you good story again thank you

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      2. Thank you I appreciate your warm words Lusa you always make my day I look for your comments I start my day like that and I end my evening like that there’s always something great to learn from you .I haven’t been on in a couple of days I had some vandalism at my home while I was out for a little while on I believe Thursday night I had to wait for the police I was on my porch to 1:30 in the morning waiting but life goes on we cleaned up we throw away what’s broken and we tried to start over right with God’s help and a good outlook we can do almost anything but please take care and thank you for your kind words be in touch.🚮🗑🕷😈


      3. Very sad I know who did it I told the police .😈🕷🗑🖤 it’s my fault I saw the red flags I knew this person wasn’t a good person I gave him a couple of things that belong to my husband in the line of clothing,,, this person wanted more the rest of the clothing was in his will and was Willed to Albany Law School there wasn’t anything left .they left in a very angry way , and they said they’d come back and burn my outdoor carpeting and wicker chairs and flowers and Planters and all of that . It could have been worse , no fire but I should have paid more attention it’s my fault I take full responsibility for being compassionate and empathetic to this idiot.. and we go on . The Sun comes back out , it rains , It snows, it’s sunny it’s cold , it’s warm .. Everything Changes and everything comes back .. the important thing is the animals are okay I’m okay and I can repair what was done and so with God’s help as you know as all of you know Luisa God gives us another chance the next day .. love you thank you. bye-bye 🐣🧚‍♀️💃

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      4. You have to be very careful, dear Sharon. Now it has become dangerous even to do charity. Just think that yesterday in Como, about 30 kilometers from where I live, a vagabond killed a young priest who was bringing a meal to the poor of the town early in the morning.
        Have a nice day, dear friend 🌹 🤗🧡

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      5. Oh dear Lord , That young priest, what a way to die, that kind fellow knew the true meaning of A agape love .MY HUBBY used to say all the time ” ONLY GOD COULD LOVE A HUMAN ” I think he meant because of the evil they do . But the young priest really took on the robe of JESUS it is not what you say but what you do , that counts. SOMEWHERE IT SAYS IN GODS WORD , ” BLESSED ARE THE PEACE KEEPERS, FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH ” If I’m wrong please correct me ⚘🐑. AGAIN THANKS LUISA & ENJOY TODAY

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      6. 🌏 the same thing is going on all over the world and every country every state every town that’s why we have to keep close to God ask him to help us in any endeavor. life does give us lemons and through God we can turn them into lemonades but it’s only temporary there will always be a challenge either a Health crisis or marriage crisis here we are now at the Coronavirus we don’t know what the outcome of that will bring all we have is to stay close to our Lord and everything we do.. enjoy your day darling ,, and everyone. 🎶🎼🍇🍒 💜💜

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