Paul McCartney’s Scrambled Eggs which Evolved Into One of the Most Recorded Songs of All Time

Paul McCartney’s Scrambled Eggs which Evolved Into One of the Most Recorded Songs of All Time

“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. I was so proud of it. I felt it was an original tune- the most complete
thing I’ve ever written. It’s very catchy without being sickly”-
Paul McCartney. “Yesterday”, written entirely (or almost
entirely– read on) by Paul McCartney, is either the most, or second most, recorded
song of all-time. (Guinness World Records claimed it was the
most, but this has been contested with others claiming George Gershwin’s 1935 “Summertime”
is the true owner of that mantle.) Whatever the case, to date, at least 4,000
different versions of the classic “Beatles” tune have been recorded by artists as diverse
as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Liberace, Tammy Wynette, Daffy Duck (!), The Mamas and
the Papas, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles and Placido Domingo. In the mid-sixties, long before “Yesterday”
was known to the general public, singer Billy J. Kramer said he was looking for a new song
to record and Paul played him “Yesterday.” Poor Billy turned it down because he said
it wasn’t right for him. Chris Farlowe also turned down the number,
telling Paul, “It’s not for me. It’s too soft. I need a good rocker, a shuffle or something.” So how did Paul come up with it? “It was the only song I ever dreamed,”
said McCartney. Yep, the tune for “Yesterday” came to
Paul McCartney in a dream. Paul woke up one morning, late in 1963 in
the attic bedroom of Jane Asher’s house (Jane was his then-girlfriend) with a complete
melody in his head and set some nonsense lyrics to it. The original title was actually “Scrambled
Eggs.” Paul’s original lyrics were, “Scrambled eggs, Oh you’ve got such lovely legs, Scrambled
eggs. Oh, my baby, how I love your legs.” As for the tune, Paul was initially unsure
whether he had actually thought it up himself or if he had unintentionally stolen it from
another composer. He played the tune to the other Beatles and
recalled, “It was like handing in something you’d found at the police station and waiting
to see if anyone claimed it.” Still unsure, Paul played the melody to several
other musicians and composers, but each one assured him they didn’t recognize it and
he hadn’t unintentionally stolen it from another source. After its ultimate release and widespread
popularity with no one claiming the tune, in every McCartney interview since 1980, Paul
has claimed complete 100% authorship and ownership of the song. But, as with so many “facts” in the history
of the Beatles, this now-gospel is disputed. According to John C. Winn, author of the excellent
Beatles book “That Magic Feeling: The Beatles Recorded Legacy,” when Paul first played
the song to his fellow Beatles, it was John who suggested the three-syllable title “Yesterday.” In a pre-1980 interview, John also stated:
“The song was around for months and months before we completed it.” (Note the “we”.) Lennon continued, in the same interview: “Paul
wrote nearly all of it. We just couldn’t find the right title.” In an interview in March of 1967, Paul also
stated John came up with the title when asked by Brian Matthew about the backstory of “Yesterday.” John stated, “Ah well, this is John saying
I don’t know anything about that one. I’ll hand you over to Paul.” Paul then stated, “This is Paul, taking
up the story in a holiday villa in Corsica. Strumming away on a medieval guitar, I thought
[sings] ‘Scrambled Egg.’ But I never could finish it, and eventually
I took it back in. With the ancient wisdom of the east, John
came out with [sings] ‘Yesterday’.” This is in direct contradiction to a May of
1965 interview in which Paul stated, “I remember mulling over the tune ‘Yesterday’,
and suddenly getting these little one-word openings to the verse. I started to develop the idea … da-da da,
yes-ter-day, sud-den-ly, fun-il-ly, mer-il-ly and Yes-ter-day, that’s good. All my troubles seemed so far away. It’s easy to rhyme those a’s: say, nay,
today, away, play, stay, there’s a lot of rhymes and those fall in quite easily, so
I gradually pieced it together from that journey. Sud-den-ly, and ‘b’ again, another easy
rhyme: e, me, tree, flea, we, and I had the basis of it.” By 1980, John had also changed his tune, saying
in his Playboy interview that “Yesterday” was entirely Paul’s and that he had nothing
whatsoever to do with it. “I never wished I’d written it and I don’t
believe in Yesterday.” Whether or not “Yesterday” is indeed 100%
Paul’s song or whether John helped in any way with it joins the scores of other “Mysteries
of the Beatles” that will undoubtedly remain a bit baffling and will be “unsolved completely”
for the ages. But if we’re not nitpicking, it seems clear
it was a “Paul work,” with a possible extremely minor contribution from John. In the end, it took almost two full years
for “Yesterday” to be recorded after the original “Scrambled Eggs” version. According to Beatles producer George Martin,
Paul first played the song for him in Paris in January of 1964 and told him he thought
the title “Yesterday” might be “too corny,” but Martin assured him it was not. It was finally recorded officially in June
of 1965. At first, they tried different ideas, including
with John playing the organ, but eventually everyone decided it should be a Paul solo. Thus, “Yesterday” became the first-ever
“Beatle” song recorded with only one Beatle and one Beatle alone. The other “evolutionary” factor in the
recording was the bringing in of a string quartet to back up Paul on the song. This was quite a huge breakthrough at the
time for a mere “pop record.” These two factors were not without minor repercussions-
jealousy from the other Beatles. (“Yesterday” was to be an early indicator
of the chinks in the armor of early Beatle unity.) “Yesterday” was released on the Beatles
“Help!” album in 1965. The song wasn’t released as a single in
Britain until after the band had officially split up (the “Yesterday as a single”
idea was vetoed by John, George and Ringo.) George Martin knew it was a “Paul song”
and thought it should be released as such. But Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein quickly
put the kibosh on this idea: “No. It is the Beatles.” According to Martin: “He did not want to
divide his holy quartet. Though it wasn’t the Beatles at all, it
had to remain so, as part of their recordings. I don’t think it irritated Paul at the time
because he considered himself a Beatle above all other things.” True, John did reap one-half of the composing
royalties from “Yesterday” although it was “Paul’s baby,” but very shortly
thereafter, Paul would reap the same one-half from songs completely written by John (“Strawberry
Fields Forever,” “Come Together,” “I Am The Walrus,” “Revolution,” and many
others.) When the Beatles began touring in June of
1965, Paul initially didn’t play “Yesterday” because he thought it might upset John. This changed when the Beatles appeared on
“Blackpool Night Out” in August of 1965. Apparently Paul was right and John didn’t
like this “solo spot” idea and made sarcastic remarks all through Paul’s rehearsals of
the song. (As an interesting sidebar, at the “Blackpool
Night Out” performance, Paul reportedly dedicated the song to his ex-girlfriend, Iris
Caldwell. Other sources claim Iris had once called Paul
“unemotional” and he called Iris up and played “Yesterday” to her over the phone
to prove otherwise.) On August 14, 1965, Paul performed the song
on “The Ed Sullivan Show”- when he finished the number, John Cuttingly said, “Thank
you Paul, that was just like him.” George was later to complain, “Blimey! He’s always talking about that song. You’d think he was Beethoven or somebody.” Despite the other Beatles’s derision, Paul
was to perform the song solo at many of their live concerts during their 1965-66 tours. Of course, the Beatles all sang a drunk-like,
sarcastic version of the song on their 1965 Christmas record. Even the great Bob Dylan joined the anti-
“Yesterday” chorus, saying, “If you go to the library of congress you can find
a lot better songs than that… there are millions of songs like ‘Michelle’ and
‘Yesterday’ written in tin pan alley.” (Ironically, Dylan was to record his own version
of the song four years later. It was never released.) Despite the puerile jealousies of his friends
and colleagues, “Yesterday” remains a classic, easily the best-known and most beloved
of Paul McCartney’s legions of compositions- his “signature song,” which has been heaped
with numerous accolades. For instance, in 1997, “Yesterday” was
inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It was also voted the best song of the 20th
century in a BBC 2 poll of music experts and listeners. MTV and Rolling Stone Magazine also named
it the #1 pop song of all-time. Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) asserts
that “Yesterday” was performed over 7 million times in the 20th century alone. Not bad for a song whose tune came to the
composer in a dream and that started out with the lyrics, “Scrambled eggs, Oh you’ve
got such lovely legs, Scrambled eggs. Oh, my baby, how I love your legs.”

100 thoughts on “Paul McCartney’s Scrambled Eggs which Evolved Into One of the Most Recorded Songs of All Time

  1. "Jealousy" my ass. The boys were right, the song is kinda garbage. Help is a beast of an album, and that song is a screeching halt. Absolutely by anyone else's standards it's a alright song, but these are the Beatles. The story behind the song is the only thing interesting about it.

  2. Idea for a video… how did the phrase "the Birds and the Bees" come to represent a talk about sexual activity (usually with a child or teen)… and just how do birds do it and bees do it (or even educated fleas do it)?

  3. It wouldn't have worked if it wasn't a soliloquy, I don't think. I love the fact that it came from a dream, showing the potential of our unconscious. It's pretty silly that people were jealous of it. I guess it shows that insecurity exists even in musical geniuses..

  4. I just had to relisten to the song to make sure, and I have zero idea how it would have worked with Scrambled Eggs.

  5. I think you mean "most FREQUENTLY recorded song". No recorded song is more recorded than another, unless the artist had never finished recording it.

  6. I know they were cutting edge stuff at the time but now they just seem silly to me. The past sucks. The future is good.
    Everyone, please watch my tiny nature videos. There is no talking in them. Shhh!

  7. It's a good song, but the best of the whole 20th century? It's not even the best Beatles song in my opinion (A Day in the Life is more groundbreaking, varied and ambitious)

  8. This video was very helpful for me because now I don't care what my lyrics are during the writing process, just that the melody and song are good! It's a great subtle songwriting tip.

  9. I remember being elated when I was assigned "Yesterday" in my piano lessons in the mid-70s. It was the first semi-contemporary song I was ever assigned. It was my go-to song to play for those who asked to hear me play FOR YEARS. And then I learned "Moonlight Sonata" and that became my go-to impromptu performance song. And then I'd play "Yesterday" as an encore.

  10. so lennon writes tons of songs that become popular and mccartney writes ONE song, and john gets jealous?  jeez, how terribly petty.

  11. None of the ststments contradicted any other statement when you know how they spoke of each other and in general. Sorry, you are wrong on this one.

  12. I long for the yesterday before "Yesterday" was written: boring, unimaginative and repetitive just like the Beatles. Where's that bug spray.

  13. We will never know because they took way way way way way lots of fucking acid back then. But the biggest hit a Beatle ever had was Paul McCartney's Live and Let Die……🙏

  14. Excellent video as usual, Simon. The only correction I would make is that he wrote Yesterday first draft in Portugal … but, as we all know, tracing the correct cronology of Beatles fact is almost impossible. So … as I said nothing !

  15. When I did my version of the song, these are the lyrics I found and used…

  16. It sounds like the "tune" was completely Paul, but the words may have had some inspiration from John. Considering that, none of those quotes seem to conflict with each other.

  17. Can you make a video about the original name of Jesus Christ before being translated over many languages and his image, something alone the lines of Caesar borgia. I'm not sure of the histories, just things Ive briefly read.

  18. You should do a video about Phil Collins and all the controversy he apparently stirs up by virtue of his mere existence.

  19. When you know you are a hardcore Beatle fan: All the Beatle content on the today I found out channel is more or less not new.

  20. German urban legends have it that the song came about at the breakfast table while the band was in Hamburg… trying to convey how they wanted their eggs… rather then scrambled eggs, the order was for "Spiegel-Ei"(sunny side up)… so the first lyric and inspiration to the song were thus German… scrambled eggs worked better when translated… at least until they came up with "yesterday"

  21. I love this song. I have no problem with it, but for the claims made for it…umm not so much.
    The best dong of the 20th century…not so much.

  22. Actually, paul's favorite song of his was "Here there and everywhere", on Revolver. He stated on many occasions (and still does to this day) that he likes it more than "Yesterday". Incidentally, that was also John's favorite of paul's, which says a lot about the "jealousy" accusations (for some reason he was never "jealous" of that one). He called it "one of the best songs of the beatles". I wholeheartedly agree; I think HTAE is Paul's best ballad hands down, followed maybe by "She's leaving home". Yesterday is nice, but too kitchy IMO. Never really vibed with me, that one.

  23. if you want to hear one of the best songs of all time, look up the song called—no time to cry—-written by iris dement and sung by merle haggard

  24. Scrambled Eggs
    They go well with toasted bread
    And I feel better after on them I'm fed
    Oh I believe in Scrambled Eggs

  25. +Simon Yesterday was also recorded again for the movie "Give my regards to Broad street" in 1984.

  26. Now that you know all about Paul McCartney's scrambled eggs check out this video and find out 20 Interesting Facts About the Great Mister Rogers:

  27. Yesterday is most easily found by a man in a police box…But, wait, the Beatles did appear in a 1965 episode of Doctor Who, via a time viewer. But the joke was on the scriptwriter, who had presumed that the Beatles were just another fad, and they'd soon be forgotten. That joke was probably prompted by a claim that Beatles music would still be popular in 50 years time. Oops, that claim turned out to be genuine.

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