“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.