Deconstructing Yesterday, nostalgia, and the ode to scrambled eggs

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The Beatles’ melancholic single ‘Yesterday’ is technically one of today’s most popular, most covered, and most recorded ballads in the history of pop music.

The song, released as a US single on September 13, 1965, nostalgically laments of a sweet love lost because of whatever it was that the singer said wrong.

A Guinness World Record holder, Yesterday remains the fourth most successful song of all-time in terms of royalties paid. 

Quite a remarkable feat for a 55-year-old song that still sounds as if it was first played just yesterday.

I am a proud fan of The Beatles. Of the Fab Four I stan John Lennon the most, and George Harrison, next.

Paul McCartney comes third, but I’m not saying that Ringo Starr is my least favorite because I so love his cheery version of ‘You’re Sixteen’. 

And while ‘Yesterday’ was credited to Lennon-McCartney, the biased fanatic in me thinks that it would have been a better song if it were Lennon who wrote it.

But ironically, Lennon was once quoted that although the song was beautiful, “I never wished I’ve written it.”

Huh???

Of course I love ‘Yesterday’. I love McCartney’s versatile and wide tenor vocal range.

The song’s entire melody was reported to have been composed by McCartney from out of his dream, which he hurriedly played on a piano upon waking up to avoid forgetting.

In ‘Yesterdaythegroup showcased their first recorded use of classical music elements, and it was also their first recording that involved only a single band member.

But who would’ve thought that ‘Yesterday’ was originally titled ‘Scrambled Eggs’ with the working opening verse “Scrambled eggs/Oh my baby how I love your legs/Not as much as I love scrambled eggs”?

Silly and quite ridiculous, but thankfully the boys came to their senses right on time, and along came the right words that we hear and have come to love today.

Imagine the dreamy Matt Monroe, the Man with the Golden Voice, singing ‘Scrambled Eggs’ as the first of the many cover versions of ‘Yesterday’! Would it still be a hit in ’65?

When I was younger, I never thought of ‘Yesterday’ as some sort of a heartbroken man’s anthem. For me it was never about a doleful lover.

I simply regarded it as a song about remorse, a deep regret about whatever it was a man has done, or has failed to do.

Maybe it was just because of a wrong decision from his past that has caught up on him and eventually screwed up his present. In the first stanza, I thought McCartney was wailing because of his self-made troubles and was looking for a hiding place.

Whatever that troubles were, I don’t know.

The second stanza was more poignant, and even more puzzling to me then. What does it mean when you say “There’s a shadow hangin’ over me”?

And how can “yesterday come suddenly”? 

Obviously this 1965 hit was too much for an 80’s kid like me. I first heard it, just like the other Beatles’ hits, as a child in the province whose doting titos and titas listened to ‘old’ songs from sun up to sun down.

Nami ni ya ang kanta sg mga Beatles!’, they’d say. “Da best ni ya tingog ni Paul, mati bala!”, they’d say.

But no, it wasn’t a personal favorite of mine.

It was only in the chorus and later through the last lines of the song that it has dawned on me that ‘Yesterday’ is just another musical poetry of a dejected lover, a tear-jerker from the one who was left behind because of something he’s stupidly said.

Whatever that ‘something’ was surely is despicable enough to have sent his lover packing, leaving him despondent and miserable, longing for yesterday.

Being the Lennon fan that I am, I’d pick ‘Imagine’ as the best song ever, at any given time. And while I consider my other favorites (Strawberry Fields Forever, Something, Norwegian Wood, Girl, Let it Be, and more) better than Paul MacCartney’s ‘dream’ song, I personally believe that ‘Yesterday’ truly deserves all the honors and praises bestowed on it. 

After all, no one in his right mind would think it would be better if it was ‘Scrambled Eggs” instead.

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