“Yesterday,” by Paul McCartney is the most-covered song in the history of popular music. It has been on and off the charts since the Beatles’ original 1965 version, which first appeared on their Help soundtrack, not as a single. An entire book was written on the song, best known as the song Paul heard in a dream and originally titled “Scrambled Eggs.” Paul later changed the lyrics and has since revealed that the song was composed about his mother, who died when Paul was fourteen.
“Let It Be,” sometimes regarded as a spiritual song, is also about the midwife who gave birth to the future Wing. The mother Mary, who speaks words of wisdom, is Paul’s mother, Mary. Paul, who never hid his own professed atheism even in the earliest Beatles interviews, was not singing out the Virgin Mary. Paul had a history of hiding meanings in songs, though. Paul calls “Got to Get you into My Life,” a Motown-influenced piece off Revolver, his “love song to pot.” And who really knows what he was carrying through airport security in “I’m Carrying.”
“Julia,” from The Beatles (White Album), is named for John Lennon’s mother, who was run over and killed by a drunken, off-duty cop when John was seventeen. A soft and beautiful ballad, it is the only song in the Beatles’ catalog to feature just John and an acoustic guitar. John never got over his mother’s death and continued to deal with it through song in his solo career with haunting songs like “Mother” and “My Mummy’s Dead.” Yoko Ono means ocean child in Japanese, and Lennon called Yoko mother after the birth of their son Sean.
George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” was also written for his mother, who was ailing and died of brain cancer in 1970, and not about the impending break-up of the group as has been reported. Although he recorded versions with the Beatles during the White Album sessions, he never released it until after the Beatles broke up.
Ringo Starr revealed in the Anthology Series that he used to sing “Motherless Child” for his mother. He also said he recorded his album of standards, “Sentimental Journey” for his mum.
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