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The Beatles 
The Beatles

Yesterday is one of the most covered songs in recording history. But it's the original version, as performed by its composer Paul McCartney, which remains the best known. The song came to him in a dream and for a while, he wasn't convinced that it was his to record...

Paul McCartney
"I just woke up one morning and I supposed I'd been dreaming or something and I'd got this little tune in my head…"

Eventually, McCartney took his acoustic-guitar-and-vocal demo to the rest of the Beatles who felt that there was nothing they could add to it. Producer George Martin added the distinctive strings despite McCartney's fears that the song might end up sounding like a cheesy Mantovani recording.

Billy Bragg
"We can't put Ringo on it, it's too heavy… What about a classical string quartet?"

Paul's biggest contribution to the arrangement was to add a cello line at the end of the song's second middle eight which incorporated a 'blue' cello note – a minornote against a major chord (When the line "Why she had to go…", comes up a second time around, listen out for the notes that appears after the word "say". The cello slides up by 3 notes.) Dominic King

Yesterday was never actually released as a single in the UK during the lifetime of The Beatles. Paul has said "we were a little embarrassed about it – we were a Rock 'n' Roll band". It did win an Ivor Novello award for the Most Outstanding Song of 1965 and was issued as a single in the US in 1965 where it sold a million copies within the first 10 days of its release. It was knocked off the US number 1 slot by the Rolling Stones' "Get Off My Cloud".

It was finally released as a single in the UK in 1976, some six years after the band had gone their separate ways.

"Yesterday" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2000, it came in at #1 in the Rolling Stone & MTV 100 Greatest Pop Songs chart beating the Rolling Stone's "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" into second place.

They recognised something in the song that was part of themselves

Ken Bruce

 Listen to Ken Bruce on why Yesterday is still relevant today

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