How Old Was Paul McCartney When He Wrote ‘Yesterday’?

A young Paul McCartney came up with a wordless song about breakfast food before transforming it into The Beatles’ “Yesterday.”

Paul McCartney was surprisingly young when he penned The Beatles’ “Yesterday.” The tune’s lyrics are one display of The Beatles’ maturity as songwriters. Despite this, the tune originally had a more frivolous title.

Paul McCartney recorded The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday’ shortly before his birthday

According to the 2016 book Paul McCartney: The Life, the Fab Four changed history on June 14, 1965. That day, the band recorded “Yesterday” at Abbey Road Studios. Notably, the recording took place four days prior to Paul’s 23rd birthday, meaning he wrote the song at the tender age of 22.

The song would later be included on the Help! soundtrack. Shockingly, the song was not used in the film. Despite getting ignored by the movie, “Yesterday” would become one of the most famous and oft-covered tunes in history.

The Beatles proved again and again they were more profound than their ages would suggest

While Paul and John Lennon were in their 20s when they wrote much of The Beatles’ classic catalog, they regularly displayed wisdom beyond their years. For example, “Eleanor Rigby” is a perceptive tableau of post-war loneliness in Great Britain. Meanwhile, “Let It Be” is a deep song about letting your worries roll off of your back.

During the 1960s, The Beatles were associated with youth culture in general and the counterculture in particular. If they just appealed to children and teenagers, we probably wouldn’t be talking about them today. However, the band’s maturity helped their music connect across generations.

Paul McCartney said ‘Yesterday’ was originally called ‘Scrambled Egg’

While “Yesterday” has some mature lyrics, it started off as a juvenile song about scrambled eggs. During a 1974 interview with Rolling Stone, Paul explained how the song came together. “I did the tune first and wrote words to that later,” he recalled “I called that ‘Scrambled Egg’ for a long time. I didn’t have any words to it. So then I got words to that; so I say, every time is different, really. I like to keep it that way, too; I don’t get any set formula. So that each time, I’m pullin’ it out of the air.”

Subsequently, Paul explained how he added a string quarter to a song that started out so lightweight. “First of all, I was just playing it through for everyone — saying, how do you like this song?” he remembered. “I played it just me on acoustic, and sang it. And the rest of The Beatles said, ‘That’s it. Love it.’ So George Martin and I got together and sort of cooked up this idea. I wanted just a small string arrangement. And he said, ‘Well, how about your actual string quartet?’ I said great, it sounds great. We sat down at a piano and cooked that one up.”

The Beatles’ “Yesterday” is a great song that transcended Paul’s age — and his band’s era.

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