Paul McCartney Reveals ‘Yesterday’ Lyrics Inspired by His Mother

Paul McCartney has looked back on the creation of his Beatles’ classic “Yesterday,” revealing that several of the song’s lines were subconsciously inspired by his mother.

“Yesterday” ranks among the most recognizable songs in history, with lyrics expressing a sentiment of sorrow and regret. For years, McCartney rejected the notion that “Yesterday” had been inspired by his mother, who died in 1956 when the future Beatle was only 14. However in a recent edition of the podcast McCartney: A Life in Lyrics, the acclaimed songwriter admitted his mom likely influenced the song.

“Some did suggest to me that this was a losing my mother song. Which I always said, ‘No, I don’t think so,’” McCartney noted. “But the more you think about it, ‘Why’d she have to go? I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.’ Losing your mother to cancer, no one said anything. We didn’t know what it was at all.”

Embarrassing Moment Inspired a ‘Yesterday’ Lyric
One line in particular – “I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday” – brought a very specific memory to McCartney’s mind.

“Sometimes it’s only in retrospect you can appreciate it,” he recalled. “I remember very clearly one day feeling very embarrassed because I embarrassed my mum.”

“We were out in the backyard and she talked posh,” the rock legend continued. “She was of Irish origin and she was a nurse, so she was above street level. So she had something sort of going for her, and she would talk, what we thought was a little bit posh.”

Young Paul decided to call attention to his mother’s accent, much to her chagrin.

“She said something like ‘Paul, will you ask him if he’s going?’” McCartney remembered. “I went ‘Arsk! Arsk! It’s ask, mum.’ And she got a little bit embarrassed. I remember later thinking ‘God, I wish I’d never said that’. And it stuck with me. After she died I thought ‘Oh fuck, I really wish… ’ I’ve got a couple of those little things that I know the people would forgive me, because they’re not big things. They’re little things. But they’re little things that I just think, if I’d just taken an (eraser) and just rub that little moment out, it’d be better. And when she died, I wonder, ‘I said something wrong,’ are we harkening back to that crazy little thing?’”

“I suspect it might be true,” McCartney surmised. “It fits, if you look at the lyrics.”

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