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Paul McCartney reveals the secret to the lyrics of the hit Yesterday

A secret that is not new.

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Paul McCartney reveals the secret to the lyrics of the hit Yesterday

A secret that is not new. Speaking on his podcast A Life in Lyrics, where he tells the story of his songs alongside poet Paul Muldoon, Paul McCartney revealed the true meaning behind the lyrics of the hit Yesterday, featured on the album Help! by the Beatles, released in 1965.

To everyone's surprise, the nostalgia and sadness evoked in the song do not allude to a romantic breakup but to an exchange he had with his mother, Mary. The latter being “nurse, of Irish origin”. Paul McCartney made fun of his manners which he found too “chic”. “I remember being very embarrassed because I had embarrassed my mother,” he explains. [...] I remember thinking later, 'God, I wish I'd never said that.' And it stuck in my throat.”

“It’s often with hindsight that we begin to understand things,” continues the ex-member of the Beatles. At the age of 24, almost ten years after the death of his mother from cancer, Paul McCartney decided, unconsciously, to make a song out of this regret. Since the release of Yesterday, he has often been asked if the song was inspired by the death of Mary McCartney. “I always said ‘no, I don’t think so’, but the more you think about it…” explains Paul McCartney.

Also read “We built our legend step by step”: Paul McCartney recounts the beginnings of the Beatles

Despite this revelation, Yesterday nonetheless remains a song of lost love. “But is she really talking about my deceased mother?, asks the singer of the piece. I think it's right. It kind of fits, if you look at the lyrics.”

Whatever it is, love or family story, Yesterday has enjoyed worldwide success. In 1997, the song was even inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, an award honoring musical recordings that have “lasting historical or qualitative significance and are at least 25 years old,” as the site explains.

Two years later, it was voted the best song of the century in a BBC Radio 2 poll of music experts and listeners. In 2004, the specialist magazine Rolling Stone produced a ranking of the “500 best songs of all time”. Yesterday is in thirteenth place, behind Imagine by John Lennon and Hey Jude by the Beatles.

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