The Beatles lyrics Paul McCartney’s father wanted to change

It wasn’t always easy for the older generation to understand The Beatles. Before songs like ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’ positioned the band as refined music makers, The Beatles were largely seen as a teen phenomenon. Although their target audience was young, the Fab Four often won over older audiences with their canny musical talent and strong melodic hooks, not to mention their cheeky personalities. But it was sometimes a struggle, even for the older people who loved them the most.

When John Lennon and Paul McCartney finished writing their 1963 hit single ‘She Loves You’, McCartney was still living with his father at 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool. The song was finished at the house, with the pair immediately taking the song to McCartney’s father, Jim. As a jazz band leader, Jim McCartney had quite the ear for music himself and completed the boys on the song’s composition. That being said, he had a gripe with their choice of phrasing.

“We went into the living room and said, ‘Dad, listen to this. What do you think?’ And he said, ‘That’s very nice, son, but there’s enough of these Americanisms around. Couldn’t you sing ‘She loves you, yes, yes, yes!’” McCartney recalled in Barry Miles’ book Many Years From Now. “At which point we collapsed in a heap and said, ‘No, Dad, you don’t quite get it!’”

“I remember it was Paul’s idea: instead of singing ‘I love you’ again, we’d have a third party,” John Lennon recalled about the song in 1980. “That kind of little detail is apparently in his work now where he will write a story about someone, and I’m more inclined to just write about myself.”

McCartney’s father wasn’t the only older figure who was doubtful about ‘She Loves You’. When The Beatles brought the song into EMI Studios to record on July 1st, 1963, both producer George Martin and engineer Norman Smith had their own gripes about the song. Smith shared Jim McCartney’s doubts about the lyrics, while Martin thought the song’s ending wouldn’t work.

“I was setting up the microphone when I first saw the lyrics on the music stand, ‘She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah, She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah, She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah, Yeah!’ I thought, ‘Oh my God, what a lyric! This is going to be one that I do not like,’” Smith recalled to Mark Lewisohn. “But when they started to sing it – bang, wow, terrific, I was up at the mixer jogging around.”

“I was sitting in my usual place on a high stool in studio two when John and Paul first ran through the songs, George joining in on the choruses,” Martin also told Lewisohn. “I thought it was great but was intrigued by the final chord, an odd sort of major sixth, with George doing the sixth and John and Paul the third and fifths, like a Glenn Miller arrangement. They were saying, ‘It’s a great chord! Nobody’s ever heard it before!’ Of course, I knew that wasn’t quite true.”

Both men eventually came around to the hit potential that ‘She Loves You’ had. A number one song in both the US and UK, ‘She Loves You’ would hold the distinction of being the best-selling single of all time in the UK before McCartney broke his own record with the Wings song ‘Mull of Kintyre’ in 1977. The Beatles frequently performed the song live in 1963 and 1964, even using it as the closing song to their film A Hard Day’s Night. By 1965, however, the song had been dropped from liver performances as the band looked to move away from their mop top beginnings.

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