Paul McCartney has rightly been considered one of the finest pop songwriters of all time. The composer’s time with The Beatles is one of legendary proportion and, when you look back at his iconic back catalogue, it’s easy to see why McCartney is still the foreword in pop music. While there are certainly some duds in his canon, most of what McCartney produced for the Fab Four was solid gold. Some more so than others.
One song that has always been given plenty of exposure is his fabled song ‘Yesterday’. “Well, we all know about ‘Yesterday’. I have had so much accolade for ‘Yesterday’. That’s Paul’s song and Paul’s baby. Well done,” once said Lennon through a degree of gritted teeth. Featuring on Help!, released in 1965, the track is a rich piece of the band’s iconography and has welcomed literally thousands of cover versions of the track too. From Frank Sinatra to Elvis Presley — everybody has had a go at singing the legendary lyrics from ‘Yesterday’. But, the question remains, would they have sung the original lyrics?
“I was living in a little flat at the top of a house and I had a piano by my bed. I woke up one morning with a tune in my head and I thought, ‘Hey, I don’t know this tune – or do I?’ It was like a jazz melody,” recalled McCartney of the song’s composition. Speaking as part of The Beatles Anthology he continued: “My dad used to know a lot of old jazz tunes; I thought maybe I’d just remembered it from the past. I went to the piano and found the chords to it, made sure I remembered it and then hawked it round to all my friends, asking what it was: ‘Do you know this? It’s a good little tune, but I couldn’t have written it because I dreamt it.’”
A song coming to you in a dream is a pretty imposing moment in one’s career and McCartney was determined to make sure the tune became a song. As such, the singer used any lyrics he could think of so that he could compose the melody of the track. The original title for the song, therefore, was actually ‘Scrambled Eggs.’ McCartney’s original lyrics were, “Scrambled eggs, Oh you’ve got such lovely legs, Scrambled eggs. Oh, my baby, how I love your legs.”
The actual story of how the song turned from ‘Scrambled Eggs’ to ‘Yesterday’ is pretty muddied by years and years of passing time. While at different stages Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Martin all claimed to have a hand in the title, and there have been countless suggestions that a full ‘Scrambled Eggs’ song existed somewhere in the ether of the internet, the truth is largely inconsequential.
The reality is, Paul McCartney dreamt one of the greatest pop tunes of all time, woke up, perhaps hungry for breakfast, and produced some of the most ludicrous stand-in lyrics we’ve ever heard. But, thanks to being one part of the well-oiled-pop-machine known as The Beatles, he was able to turn it into one of the most ubiquitous songs ever recorded.