- Published on 1965
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 13 on “Help!“
- Track 13 on “1962 ‐ 1966 (Red Album)“
PAUL 1968: “I just started playing it and this tune came, ‘cuz that’s what happens. They just, sort of– they COME, you know. It just came and I couldn’t think of any words to it, so originally it was just, ‘Scrambled Egg.’ It was called ‘Scrambled Egg’ for a couple of months, until I thought of ‘Yesterday.’ And that’s it. True story.”
JOHN 1980: “Paul wrote the lyrics to ‘Yesterday.’ Although the lyrics don’t reslove into any sense, they’re good lines. They certainly work, you know what I mean? They’re good– but if you read the whole song, it doesn’t say anything; you don’t know what happened. She left and he wishes it were yesterday– that much you get– but it doesn’t really resolve. So, mine didn’t used to either. I have had so much accolade for ‘Yesterday.’ That’s Paul’s song, and Paul’s baby. Well done. Beautiful– and I never wished I’d written it.”
PAUL 1984: “It fell out of bed. I had a piano by my bedside and I… must have dreamed it, because I tumbled out of bed and put my hands on the piano keys and I had a tune in my head. It was just all there, a complete thing. I couldn’t believe it. It came too easy. In fact, I didn’t believe I’d written it. I thought maybe I’d heard it before, it was some other tune, and I went around for weeks playing the chords of the song for people, asking them, ‘Is this like something? I think I’ve written it.’ And people would say, ‘No, it’s not like anything else, but it’s good.’”
PAUL 1986: “The hits are always the ones you thought wouldn’t be hits, like ‘Yesterday’ or ‘Mull Of Kintyre.’ I didn’t want to put them out. We didn’t put ‘Yesterday’ out in England, it was only here (America) that it was a single. We didn’t think it was going to be a good idea… so it’s crazy how it goes.”
PAUL 1988: “We didn’t think it fitted our image. In fact, it was one of our most successful songs.”
“Yesterday”, written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney, was first released on the album Help! in August 1965, except in the United States, where it was issued as a single in September. The song reached number one on the US charts. It subsequently appeared on the UK EP Yesterday in March 1966 and made its US album debut on Yesterday and Today, in June 1966.
McCartney’s vocal and acoustic guitar, together with a string quartet, essentially made for the first solo performance of the band. It remains popular today and, with more than 2,200 cover versions, is one of the most covered songs in the history of recorded music. “Yesterday” was voted the best song of the 20th century in a 1999 BBC Radio 2 poll of music experts and listeners and was also voted the No. 1 pop song of all time by MTV and Rolling Stone magazine the following year. In 1997, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) asserts that it was performed over seven million times in the 20th century.
“Yesterday” is a melancholy ballad about the break-up of a relationship. The singer nostalgically laments for yesterday when he and his love were together, before she left because of something he said. McCartney is the only member of the Beatles to appear on the track. The final recording was so different from other works by the Beatles that the band members vetoed the release of the song as a single in the United Kingdom, although other artists were quick to record versions of it for single release. The Beatles recording was issued as a single there in 1976 and peaked at number 8.
Meaning of “Yesterday”
The song’s lyrics reflect a sense of nostalgia, longing, and introspection. In “Yesterday,” the narrator is reminiscing about a time when things were simpler and he took them for granted. He expresses a yearning to go back to that time, but realizes he can’t. The opening lines, “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away / Now it looks as though they’re here to stay,” encapsulate the theme of the song. It’s about a moment of reflection, where the narrator looks back on a time when things were easier and he felt carefree.
The song’s melody and McCartney’s heartfelt delivery add to the emotional impact of the lyrics. “Yesterday” is known for its beautiful and timeless melody, and it’s one of the most covered songs in music history. “Yesterday” is a poignant and universally relatable song about the passage of time, nostalgia, and the realization that some moments can never be recaptured. It’s considered one of the greatest compositions in the history of popular music.
- Paul McCartney – vocal, acoustic guitar
- Tony Gilbert – violin
- Sidney Sax – violin
- Kenneth Essex – viola
- Peter Halling/Francisco Gabarró – cello
- George Martin – producer, string arrangement
- Norman Smith – engineer