The Beatles song Paul McCartney wrote to try and bridge the generational divide
When pawing through the catalogue of pop behemoths that The Beatles provided their fans during their time together it’s easy to see one common theme—Lennon and McCartney were unstoppable in their artistic pursuit.
Not happy to sit back and cash in chart-topping cheques for the usual pop fodder, the duo soon turned their attention away from the usual rock and roll tropes and begun exploring the intricacies of society and the human expression for the inspiration for their songs. What’s more, they were some of the best at doing it.
It’s a fact which never fell on deaf ears when McCartney was involved. In 1988, Macca recalled how the partnership were well aware of their growing power. “We knew we were good. People used to say to us, ‘Do you think John and you are good songwriters?’ and I’d say— ‘Yeah it may sound conceited but it would be stupid of me to say ‘No, I don’t,’ or ‘Well, we’re not bad’ because we are good.'”
The partnership had just reeled off countless number one singles and albums, sold-out stadiums and packed cinemas full of punters, the Lennon-McCartney legend was safe already. “Let’s face it. If you were in my position,” continued McCartney, “which was working with John Lennon, who was a great, great man— It’s like that film ‘Little Big Man.’ He says, ‘We wasn’t just playing Indians, we was LIVIN’ Indians.’ And that’s what it was.
“I wasn’t just talking about it, I was living it. I was actually working with the great John Lennon, and he with me. It was very exciting.”
By 1968, and the release of The Magical Mystery Tour album, Lennon and McCartney were bonafide pop geniuses. What made them so alluring as songwriters was not that they could top album charts but that they could so with such seemingly strange and certainly leftfield content at the heart of their output.
One example sees Macca veer away from the rock ‘n’ roll theme of rejecting anything your parents teach you and instead aimed to bridge the generational divide.”I dreamed up ‘Your Mother Should Know’ as a production number,” says McCartney in 1994, reflecting on the album cut.
“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.”
Faced with a problem and seemingly seeing a solution meant there was only one thing Paul McCartney could do to help—write a song about it. On this cut he let his feelings be known about the fragility of the child/parent bond. “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.”
It’s a natural movement for McCartney, who lost his own mother at such a tender age, to argue that we should all open up a little more, we should offer up some more understanding and take time to listen. It’s a message that is more poignant today than ever before.