'Yesterday,' One of The Beatles' Best Songs, Was Originally Named 'Scrambled Eggs'
It’s been 54 years since The Beatles blessed us with “Yesterday,” and not a moment goes by that someone somewhere isn’t humming the melancholy melody. “Yesterday” was Paul McCartney’s baby, the product of a midnight eureka moment that went on to become one of the most covered songs in history and the best song of the 20th century.
And how exactly is a masterpiece by The Beatles written? In the middle of the night, after tumbling out of the bed and stumbling to the piano still half asleep. “Yesterday,” like his “Yellow Submarine” and John Lennon’s “Across The Universe,” came to McCartney in the dead of night, inspired by a dream. The musician promptly woke up with the melody in his head, rushed to the piano, and composed the entire track in one sitting so he wouldn’t forget it.
The spontaneity and ease that came with creating the song made him doubt that he had actually created it. He was sure that he’d accidentally plagiarized someone else’s work without knowing it—sort of like the events of the 2019 film Yesterday, which was inspired by the song.
"My dad used to know a lot of old jazz tunes, I thought maybe I'd just remembered it from the past," McCartney once said.
But when no one came forward claiming the song as theirs, McCartney started to write the lyrics to accompany the melody—or at least he tried. While the melody came to McCartney without difficulty, he had a harder time coming up with the words to give the song justice. And that birthed the ever so eloquent placement lyrics of what is now one of the most critically acclaimed songs in history.
“Scrambled eggs / Oh my baby how I love your legs / Not as much as I love scrambled eggs.”
Check out the full song below, as performed by Paul McCartney, Jimmy Fallon, and The Roots.
The words were stuck on the tip of his tongue for months, and the band produced two whole albums before inspiration struck McCartney again. After an endless time in limbo, “Yesterday” finally came to fruition during another eureka moment of McCartney’s while he was in Portugal.
And so the song arrived, in its own time, despite the
“When you’re trying to write a song, there are certain times when you get the essence, it’s all there. It’s like an egg being laid–not a crack or a flaw in it,” McCartney explained.
“Yesterday / All my troubles seemed so far away / Now it looks as though they’re here to stay / Oh, I believe in yesterday.”
McCartney was 22 years old when he recorded the song, which would later be released as a single on September 13, 1965—54 years ago from today. Funnily enough, The Beatles weren’t particularly optimistic about its chart performance when it was released. McCartney was reluctant to add the string quartet to the arrangement in the first place.
"We were a little embarrassed about it," McCartney admitted. "We were a rock & roll band."
But the song went on to become their most recognized singles to date—and McCartney’s favorite even years after it was released.
“I reckon 'Yesterday' is probably my best song. I like it not only because it was a big success, but because it was one of the most instinctive songs I’ve ever written,” said McCartney. “I was so proud of it. I felt like it was an original tune—the most complete thing I’ve ever written. It’s very catchy without being sickly.”
Although it showed off the band’s talent as composers, as well as its mature musicality, some say that “Yesterday” marked the beginning of the end for The Beatles. It was one of the early songs written only by McCartney (the other Beatles don’t appear on the track), and it was the first solid example of McCartney’s potential without the rest of the band. That wouldn’t become a reality until five years later when the band broke up—but let’s not break our hearts and talk about that.