The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday’ Was Inspired by ‘Scrambled Eggs’

While credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it was only McCartney who wrote the song.

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“Yesterday” by The Beatles is the most covered pop song of all time. But what makes the song so enjoyable, and how did it come about?

The Rise of the Beatles

The Beatles formed well before the release of “Yesterday” in 1965. The band materialized in Liverpool, England, in 1960, consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison. (Eventual drummer Ringo Starr joined in 1962, succeeding Pete Best.)

They laid the groundwork for their career with residencies in Hamburg, Germany. With the help of manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin, they signed to EMI’s Parlophone label.

The Beatles recorded at EMI Recording Studios in June and September 1962, resulting in “Love Me Do” and other songs. But it was the following year that Lennon and McCartney created a songwriting partnership, and the Beatles sound congealed with all four members singing.

In March 1963, the Beatles released Please Please Me — the first of 11 straight albums in the U.K. to top the charts.

The next two years were a whirlwind that encompassed the British Invasion and Beatlemania, an epic 1964 tour, legendary appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, and the film A Hard Day’s Night.

The Story of ‘Yesterday’

The Beatles recorded “Yesterday” in mid-June 1965, at roughly the halfway point in their career. They released the first version of the two-minute song on the album Help! in the U.K. in August and as a single in the U.S. the following month.

After that, the Beatles released the song again on their Yesterday EP in the U.K. in March 1966, and on the U.S. album Yesterday and Today in June of that year.

The song is about the end of a relationship. Paul McCartney recorded a version of the song that was so different from the original, it hit the charts again in the U.K. in 1976.

While credited to Lennon and McCartney, it was only McCartney who wrote the song.

The lyrics of the song are:

Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be.
There’s a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why she had to go?
I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong.
Now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Why she had to go?
I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong.
Now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Mm mm mm mm mm mm mm.

The song originally opened with “Scrambled eggs/ Oh my baby how I love your legs/ Not as much as I love scrambled eggs.” Similarly, the song’s original name was “Scrambled Eggs.”

McCartney later said of the song:

“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. … it was an original tune — the most complete thing I’ve ever written. It’s very catchy without being sickly.”

The Legacy of ‘Yesterday’

Help! director Richard Lester later said of the song: “We were shooting Help! in the studio for about four weeks. At some time during that period, we had a piano on one of the stages and he was playing this ‘Scrambled Eggs’ all the time. It got to the point where I said to him, ‘If you play that bloody song any longer I’ll have the piano taken off stage. Either finish it or give it up!'”

More than 2,000 versions of “Yesterday” are on the books, making it one of the most covered pieces of music ever. Artists who have covered it range from Frank Sinatra to Marianne Faithfull.

The song even inspired a 2019 rom-com by Danny Boyle, called Yesterday. The makers of the movie, which grossed about $153 million worldwide, ponied up $10 million for the rights to use the Beatles song.

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