A new study has concluded that Paul McCartney “misremembers” writing The Beatles song ‘In My Life’.
The track itself is much debated, having originally being credited to John Lennon, was thrown into question when McCartney told Paul Gambaccini: “Those were the words John wrote, and I wrote the tune to it. That was a great one.”
However, prior to his death, Lennon said that McCartney only wrote the middle-eight and harmonies of the song which has had Beatles fans debated the ownership for years.
Without a solid conclusion, a new academic study was undertaken by two North American academics in an attempt to use data to find a result. In their analysis, it is believed that the song far more stylistically resembles the work of Lennon’s creations.
Harvard’s senior lecturer in statistics Mark Glickman and Dalhousie University’s Jason Brown, who is a Professor of Mathematics said there is less than 1 in 50 chance that McCartney wrote the music to ‘In My Life’.
“We wondered whether you could use data analysis techniques to try to figure out what was going on in the song to distinguish whether it was by one or the other,” Dr Glickman explained when analysing melodies, chord frequency and notes of Beatles songs written between 1962 and 1966.
“The basic idea is to convert a song into a set of different data structures that are amenable for establishing a signature of a song using a quantitative approach. Think of decomposing a colour into its constituent components of red, green and blue with different weights attached.
“The probability that ‘In My Life’ was written by McCartney is .018. Which basically means it’s pretty convincingly a Lennon song. McCartney misremembers.”
Delving a little deeper, Dr. Glickman explained how the tone and pitch in Lennon songs tended to be simpler than McCartney’s, whose work was more complex and spontaneous.
“Consider the Lennon song, ‘Help!’” Glickman added. “It basically goes, ‘When I was younger, so much younger than today,’ where the pitch doesn’t change very much.
“It stays at the same note repeatedly, and only changes in short steps. Whereas with Paul McCartney, you take a song like ‘Michelle’. In terms of pitch, it’s all over the place.”