- Published in 1967
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 5 on “Magical Mystery Tour“
PAUL circa-1994: “I dreamed up ‘Your Mother Should Know’ as a production number… I’ve always hated generation gaps. I always feel sorry for a parent or a child that doesn’t understand each other. A mother not being understood by her child is particularly sad because the mother went through pain to have that child, and so there is this incredible bond of motherly love, like an animal bond between them. But because we mess things up so readily they have one argument and hate each other for the rest of their lives. So I was advocating peace between the generations. In ‘Your Mother Should Know’ I was basically trying to say your mother might know more than you think she does. Give her credit.”
About “Your Mother Should Know”
“Your Mother Should Know” was written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. In writing it, McCartney said he wanted to advocate for generational understanding and respect for a mother’s life experience. During the Magical Mystery Tour television film, the song is a big production number in the style of a 1930s Hollywood musical. In the sequence, the Beatles are seen dancing and dressed in white evening tails, which some commentators view as cultural satire.
As with McCartney’s earlier composition, “When I’m Sixty-Four“, the song is written in the music hall style. Towards the end of August, the initial sessions for “Your Mother Should Know” took place at Chappell Recording Studios in London. Brian Epstein, their manager, was last seen by the group there on 27 August, just before he passed away.
A harmonium was the first instrument Paul McCartney used to compose “Your Mother Should Know“, and he pulled inspiration from his father’s love of music hall. The subject matter of the song was inspired by a conversation he had with family members that day. Its lyrical premise centres on the history of hit songs across generations. As a reference to the 1961 film A Taste of Honey, McCartney took the title from a line about a white teenager who falls pregnant with a black man’s child and hides it from her domineering mother.
According to McCartney, in his 1997 biography, Many Years from Now, he sought to address the issue of generational barriers with “Your Mother Should Know“. His point was that an argument between a mother and her child can have enduring consequences for their relationship. As he planned the Beatles’ 1967 television film Magical Mystery Tour, McCartney envisioned the song as a “production number.” Due to the lack of enthusiasm John Lennon and George Harrison had for the film, the project lay dormant after the band finished recording the film’s title song in May of that year. It was McCartney’s first suggestion for the Beatles’ contribution to the Our World satellite broadcast, but the band chose Lennon’s “All You Need Is Love” for its social relevance.
Meaning of “Your Mother Should Know”
The lyrics of “Your Mother Should Know” are relatively simple and revolve around the idea of a dance that “your mother should know.” It conveys a sense of timeless, classic entertainment, as if the dance in question is something universally understood and appreciated. The song exudes a cheerful and carefree sentiment, which aligns with the broader themes of joy and wonder that permeate much of the “Magical Mystery Tour” album.
While the song’s lyrics may not carry a profound or complex meaning, it serves as a delightful piece of pop music, showcasing McCartney’s ability to craft infectious melodies and evoke a sense of joy through music.
- Paul McCartney – lead and backing vocals, piano, bass guitar
- John Lennon – backing vocals, Hammond organ
- George Harrison – backing vocals, lead guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine