Happy Birthday, Mami! Today, in honor of her cumpleaños, I’m dedicating my Mami’s favorite Fab Four song, “Yesterday,” from her favorite Beatle, Paul McCartney. My Mami loved playing this song. She would sing along with me by her side holding our copy of The Beatles’ Love Songs album. She really sounded lovely. I always wondered who or what my Mami was thinking of, when she closed her eyes and sang “Yesterday?”
Did you know that Paul McCartney famously claimed that “Yesterday” arrived in his dreams waking up at his former paramours house in 1963, two years before The Beatles actually recorded the song for Help? Macca explained in The Beatles Anthology when he said, “I was living in a little flat at the top of a house and I had a piano by my bed. I woke up one morning with a tune in my head and I thought, ‘Hey, I don’t know this tune – or do I?’ It was like a jazz melody. My dad used to know a lot of old jazz tunes; I thought maybe I’d just remembered it from the past. I went to the piano and found the chords to it, made sure I remembered it and then hawked it round to all my friends, asking what it was: ‘Do you know this? It’s a good little tune, but I couldn’t have written it because I dreamt it.’”
Imagine having this tune suck in your head for two whole years? Macca swore “Yesterday” was the only song I ever dreamed.” Paul couldn’t come up with any words for this tune that would famously become “Yesterday,” so he came up with a title inspired by one of his favorite breakfast foods as Macca explained, “It didn’t have any words at first so I blocked it out with ‘Scrambled eggs, oh my baby, how I love your legs—I believe in scrambled eggs.’” McCartney would often entertain his Fab Four compadres by serenading them with his unfinished masterpiece for a laugh. After finally recording “Yesterday” on June 15, 1965, no one was laughing when, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Macca’s classic holds the distinction of being the most covered song in history.
“Well, we all know about Yesterday. I have had so many accolades for Yesterday. That’s Paul’s song and Paul’s baby. Well done. Beautiful.” John Lennon told David Scheff in 1980. And John was right; “Yesterday” is one of the most beautiful songs in the Beatles and McCartney’s whole song canon. “Yesterday” came from Paul’s dream in 1963, recorded in 1965 and was sequenced twelve years later on The Beatles Love Songs LP; The same album my parents bought for us that we would play religiously. On my Mami’s Birthday, I’ll always remember, by honoring her, and one of our familia’s favorite pastimes was sitting in front of the stereo while singing along to The Beatles. It never got old spinning that dusty vinyl and when I hear those timeless strings, I can still picture my Mami singing to the stories of her own “Yesterday.” A glimpse from our everlasting past, for my Mami, today and mañana— this “Yesterday” is dedicated to you.
And here’s an outtake, with Paul trying to teach the chords to George, on an acoustic Take 1 of “Yesterday” from The Beatles Anthology 2.