Friday, October 9, 2015

50 years ago: The Beatles hit #1 with “Yesterday”


The Beatles

Writer(s): John Lennon, Paul McCartney (see lyrics here)

Released: September 13, 1965

First Charted: September 18, 1965

Peak: 14 US, 13 CB, 14 GR, 12 HR, 1 CL, 8 UK, 13 CN, 2 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK, 1.2 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 10.0 radio, 56.6 video, 367.28 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The music for “Yesterday” came effortlessly to Paul McCartney. He was staying in an attic room in London on Wimpole Street while the Beatles were filming their Help! movie. Paul said he woke up one morning with the melody. SS He said, “[I] tumbled out of bed and put my hands on the piano keys and I had a tune in my head.” RSP He assumed he’d unconsciously plagiarized it, TB remembering one of the many jazz tunes his dad had known. RS500 As he told The Hollywood Reporter, “I…spent about three weeks asking all the music people I knew, ‘What is this song?’ I couldn’t believe I’d written it.” FB

Once he knew it was original, Paul gave the song some dummy lyrics. He said, “the lyrics used to go, ‘Scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs.’” SS Once the Help! movie was done, Paul went on a European vacation at the end of May with his girlfriend Jane Asher. He finished the song over a two-week period. He said, this “was quite a long time for me. Generally, John and I would sit down and finish within three hours.” SS

When the Beatles took a shot at it, Ringo couldn’t make the drums work and John struck out on the organ. RSP Lennon also disliked the song’s “mawkish sentimentality.” HL Paul even attempted giving it to blues shouter Chris Farlowe and fellow Liverpudlian Billy J. Kramer. HL Producer George Martin suggested trying it with a string quartet. Paul said, “We were a little embarrassed about it…We were a rock & roll band.” RS500 Martin convinced McCartney to try it, assuring him that they could always re-cut it if it didn’t work. HL

While the song was included on the group’s Help! album, they decided not to release it as a single in England because they weren’t sold on releasing a full-on ballad that was really a solo recording instead of a band effort. SS They did, however, allow its release as a single in the United States, because they didn’t live there. SS Despite their reservations, it became one of the most successful ever. According to Guinness World Records, “Yesterday” is the most recorded song of all time RS500 with more than 2500 versions. RSP


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Last updated 4/13/2023.


  1. Thanks once again for this! So would Yesterday and Louie Louie be among the most recorded/covered songs?

    1. Good question. I haven't made a list of most recorded/covered songs for the rock era but I have one for the pre-rock era: