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Yesterday

Dreamed 1965 by Paul McCartney

THE CIRCUMSTANCES

In 1965, the Beatles were in London filming Help!; McCartney was staying in a small attic room of his family's house on Wimpole Street.

THE DREAM

One morning, McCartney heard a classical string ensemble playing in a dream. As he tells it:

"I woke up with a lovely tune in my head. I thought, 'That's great, I wonder what that is?' There was an upright piano next to me, to the right of the bed by the window. I got out of bed, sat at the piano, found G, found F sharp minor 7th--and that leads you through then to B to E minor, and finally back to E. It all leads forward logically.

"I liked the melody a lot, but because I'd dreamed it, I couldn't believe I'd written it. I thought, 'No, I've never written anything like this before.' But I had the tune, which was the most magic thing!"

AFTER THE DREAM

"Yesterday" became possibly the most popular song ever written. This is obviously hard to quantify, but the Guinness Book of Records does state that "Yesterday" has the most cover versions of any song, a fair indicator of its popularity among musicians as well as listeners.

EDITOR'S NOTE

"Yesterday" does sound unlike all McCartney's songwriting up to that point. He later wrote other quasi-classical material, some of it even faintly reminiscent of "Yesterday", such as "She's Leaving Home"; but all that came after the dream.

So I wonder--would Paul have gone in this direction at all, if the dream hadn't spurred him? In a way, it's as fair to say "Yesterday" created Paul, as the reverse. At least the Paul we know.

SOURCES

Paul McCartney : Many Years From Now by Barry Miles (NY, Henry Holt, 1997)

The Committee of Sleep by D. Barrett, 2001



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