With a world recording breaking 3000+ recorded cover versions to its name, and a simply staggering amount of amassed radio plays to boot, it is near-impossible to imagine a world without the ubiquitous brilliance of The Beatles song ‘Yesterday’. In short, it just seems like a song that has always been around and by no means does that blemish the artistry of the track, on the contrary, it defines it as truly timeless.
It seems very befitting, therefore, that even Paul McCartney first thought that he couldn’t possibly have simply dreamt it into existence. As the story goes, McCartney awoke with the melody after a dream and ad-libbed the words “scrambled eggs” so that he wouldn’t forget it, but he was convinced that it came so naturally it must have been lifted from one of his dad’s old jazz records. When no similarities could be found, the group ploughed on with the track. Interestingly, however, there is a Nat King Cole version of the old jazz standard ‘Answer Me, My Love’ with the line “Yesterday, I believed that love was here to stay,” which may or may not have seeped into his psyche.
Naturally, with a song as timeless and evergreen as ‘Yesterday’, it’s hard to imagine a time before it was heard, but there’s always a first time and that’s what we’re looking at here. “We’d like to do something now that we’ve never ever done before,” George Harrison says by way of introduction, “It’s a track off our new LP, and this song’s called ‘Yesterday’ and so for Paul McCartney of Liverpool opportunity knocks.”
The rest, as they say, is ancient history. But imagine, if you will, being present in the audience at that fateful recorded Blackpool Night Out concert in 1965 and hearing the debut of what would go on to be one of the most famous pop songs of all time, and surely thinking to yourself ‘well get a load of these guys!’ The famed Blackpool Night Out show in question was the band’s only British TV appearance in promotion of Help!, and in truth, it was the only one they needed.
Elsewhere on the bill, they performed ‘I Feel Fine’, ‘I’m Down’, ‘Act Naturally’ and ‘Ticket to Ride’ with the besuited Fab Four in fine voice throughout. Befittingly, the rest of the gang left the stage before McCartney began ‘Yesterday’, for the first recorded Beatles song with only one named performer alongside recording musicians Tony Gilbert and Sidney Sax on Violin, Kenneth Essex on Viola and Francisco Gabarro on Cello. The switch marked a more profound change in an artistic sense for the band, as their songwriter transitioned into a more introspective style, inspired to some degree by a meeting with Bob Dylan after which McCartney declared: “I could feel myself climbing a spiral walkway as I was talking to Dylan. I felt like I was figuring it all out, the meaning of life.”
Looking back at this performance you get a similar aggrandised sense of history being made. Following this one humble solo performance, movies, endless covers, literally years’ worth of radio plays and an even deeper sense of cultural punctuating has followed. And all of it started with “Scrambled Eggs.”
As John Lennon once told David Sheff, “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. Beautiful – and I never wished I’d written it.”
You can check out the debut of this seismic classic below, complete with John Lennon offering up a bunch of plastic flowers in congratulations.