- Published on 1965
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 7 on “Rubber Soul“
- Track 21 on “1962 ‐ 1966 (Red Album)“
JOHN 1972: “Both of us. I wrote the middle with him.”
PAUL 1977: “‘Michelle’ was like a joke French tune for when you go to a party or something. That’s all it was. And then after a while you say, ‘Well, that’s quite a good tune. Let’s put some real words to it.’”
JOHN 1980: “He and I were staying somewhere and he walked in and hummed the first few bars, with the words, and he says, ‘Where do I go from here?’ I had been listening to (blues singer) Nina Simone. I think it was ‘I Put A Spell On You.’ There was a line in it that went, ‘I love you, I love you.’ That’s what made me think of the middle-eight for ‘Michelle.’ So, my contributions to Paul’s songs was always to add a little bluesy edge to them. Otherwise, ‘Michelle’ is a straight ballad, right? He provided a lightness, an optimism, while I would always go for the sadness, the discords, the bluesy notes.”
PAUL 1988: “I’ll never forget putting the bass line in ‘Michelle’ because it was a kind of Bizet thing. It really turned the song around. You could do that with bass. It was very exciting.”
“Michelle” was composed principally by Paul McCartney, with the middle eight co-written with John Lennon. The song is a love ballad with part of its lyrics sung in French.
Following its inclusion on Rubber Soul, the song was released as a single in some European countries and in New Zealand, and on an EP in France, in early 1966. It was a number 1 hit for the Beatles in Belgium, France, Norway, the Netherlands and New Zealand. Concurrent recordings of the song by David and Jonathan and the Overlanders were similarly successful in North America and Britain, respectively.
“Michelle” won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1967 and has since become one of the most widely recorded of all Beatles songs.
Meaning of “Michelle”
The lyrics of “Michelle” are a romantic ode to a woman named Michelle. The song is sung in a mixture of English and French, with the chorus featuring the French phrase “Michelle, ma belle, sont les mots qui vont très bien ensemble, très bien ensemble” which translates to “Michelle, my beautiful, these are words that go very well together, very well together.“
The song conveys a sense of longing and affection, as the narrator expresses his feelings for Michelle and imagines a future where they are together. The lyrics are tender and poetic, reflecting the depth of the narrator’s emotions.
“Michelle” is often celebrated for its graceful melody, clever use of both English and French, and its romantic sentiment. It’s considered one of The Beatles’ more sophisticated compositions, showcasing their versatility and willingness to experiment with different musical styles and languages.
- Paul McCartney – lead vocal, backing vocal, acoustic guitar, bass guitar
- John Lennon – backing vocal, classical guitar
- George Harrison – backing vocal, acoustic guitar, lead guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums