Paul McCartney took immense pride in a particular Beatles song, considering it among the top songs of the century. Throughout his tenure with The Beatles, McCartney, alongside John Lennon, crafted a legacy in songwriting. Notably, McCartney pointed out that one song he penned without Lennon’s collaboration stood out as a top-notch composition. However, he also expressed that the song’s release was somewhat disappointing.
Paul McCartney Declares a Beatles Song He Wrote as the Song of the Century
One of The Beatles’ most iconic songs, “Yesterday,” was a product of McCartney’s dream. Initially doubting that he could have genuinely conceived it, he was amazed when he realized the melody was indeed original. This discovery fueled his determination to craft accompanying lyrics, intensifying the thrill of the song’s massive success.
Reflecting on this remarkable creation, McCartney shared in The Beatles Anthology, “It was my most successful song. It’s amazing that it just came to me in a dream. That’s why I don’t profess to know anything; I think music is all very mystical. You hear people saying, ‘I’m a vehicle; it just passes through me.’ Well, you’re dead lucky if something like that passes through you.
However, the song came with its share of disappointment. Despite Paul McCartney viewing “Yesterday” as one of the best songs of the century, he found himself receiving only 15% of its profits. McCartney attributed this to business decisions made by the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, which ultimately did not favor the band. Reflecting on the situation, McCartney explained, “For ‘Yesterday,’ which I wrote totally on my own, without John’s or anyone’s help, I am on 15%. To this day, I am only on 15% because of the deals Brian made, and that is really unjust, particularly as it has been such a smash. It is possibly the smash of this century.
Paul McCartney Confesses The Beatles’ Initial Embarrassment with the Song
While McCartney now expresses pride in the song, he openly admitted that he and his fellow bandmates initially found it somewhat embarrassing.
“In fact, we didn’t release ‘Yesterday’ as a single in England at all because we were a little embarrassed about it—we were a rock’n’roll band.”
Nevertheless, McCartney grew to take immense pride in the song, even in the face of teasing from his bandmates.
“I am proud of it. I get made fun of because of it a bit,” McCartney shared, adding, “I remember George saying, ‘Blimey, he’s always talking about ‘Yesterday,’ you’d think he was Beethoven or somebody.’ But it is, I reckon, the most complete thing I’ve ever written.
John Lennon’s Lesser Admiration for the Song
Even though Lennon acknowledged that the song stood among McCartney’s best, he harbored reservations about its lyrical strength. Lennon, known for his confidence in his own lyricism, believed he was the superior lyricist. While recognizing McCartney’s ability to hold his ground on songs like “Yesterday,” Lennon maintained that there were still lyrical shortcomings in the composition.
“In the book ‘All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview With John Lennon and Yoko Ono’ by David Sheff, Lennon expressed his views on McCartney’s lyricism,” said Lennon. “A couple of lines he’s come up with show indications he’s a good lyricist, but he just never took it anywhere. He wrote the lyrics to ‘Yesterday.’ Although the lyrics don’t resolve into any sense, they’re good lines. They certainly work. You know what I mean? They’re good—but if you read the whole song, it doesn’t say anything; you don’t know what happened. She left and he wishes it was yesterday—that much you get—but it doesn’t really resolve.” Lennon, however, was famously critical of his former bandmate’s musical contributions.