The sixth song on the second side of the Parlophone UK LP "Help!" (or the thirteenth song from the Parlophone UK CD "Help!") is the biggie. The song was written by the original composers Lennon/McCartney and is very much mainly written by Paul. McCartney had woken up one morning out of a dream where there had been this melody in his head. A great, original melody that he played around with and chorded on the piano in the music room of the Asher house (where he was rooming at the time - his girlfriend in the mid-sixties was Jane Asher). Paul was sure that he had probably picked up the tune subconsciously somewhere during his travels and premiered the tune for anyone that happened to be around including George Martin, Dick James, the other Beatles, Alma Cogen, etc. Once he was sure that there were no other melodies similar to anything heard by everyone else's ears, he began the task of writing lyrics for the song. At this point in time, the song was tentatively entitled "Scramble Eggs" (oh my baby, how I love your legs).
It's been said that the song had been around ever since the trip to Paris in January 1964 during thier performance residency at the Olympia Theatre in France. Paul had supposedly played it on the piano that was installed in their hotel suite at the George V. It would take almost another year and a half for the Beatles to record it. McCartney eventually came up with the proper lyrics for the song while on holiday - "Yesterday". This tune is very unique as it was the first song at the time to feature only one Beatle - and it was the first song to have a group of classical musicians play on the song in the form of a string quartet. McCartney at first balked at the idea of having "stings" on the tune - as suggested by George Martin - but relented once he was assured that there would not be any syrupy vibrato style playing.
"Yesterday" was recorded on Monday June 14 1965 ( amazingly, on the same day as "I'm Down" and "I've Just Seen A Face") at EMI studio two. At this session, only Paul and his Epiphone Texan six string acoustic were recorded. The track took two takes. On the first take, you can hear Paul chatting with George Harrison about how although the song was played in the G chord fingering, the actual song would be heard in the key of F due to the fact that the acoustic guitar would be tuned down one tone. Take one also features a slight error where two lines are out of lyrical order on the second verse. Take one of this recording can be heard on the Apple 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 2". The second take is the commercial version and is vocally perfect. The string quartet was added three days later on June 17 1965. Also on June 17 1965, another attempt at the vocal by Paul was recorded and it can be heard on the commercial version near the end of the first bridge, giving it a double tracking effect as you can hear leakage (at this point, the Beatles did not wear headphones in the studio).
"Yesterday" was mixed for mono on June 17 1965 on the same day as the string quartet and vocal overdub were added. All this took place in studio two. "Yesterday" was mixed for stereo the next day on June 18 1965 from the control room of studio two. It's incredible that the Beatles certainly "buried" the track on the Parlophone UK LP/CD placing it on side two as the second last song. "Yesterday" was featured on the UK EP of the same name (Parlophone GEP 8948) release on March 04 1966. In North America, it was released as a single on Capitol 5498 on September 13 1965. It was released as a single in the UK on March 08 1976 as Parlophone R 6013.
"Yesterday" first appeared on the Parlophone UK LP/CD "Help!" and is also available on the Parlophone UK LP "A Collection of Beatles Oldies" and the North American Capitol LP "Yesterday...And Today". The song is also featured on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1962-1966" as well as on the EMI/Capitol 2-LP compilation "Love Songs". It can also be found on the EMI/Parlophone UK/Canadian LP "The Beatles Ballads" as well as the UK and North American version of the EMI/Parlophone "The Beatles 20 Greatest Hits" and the Apple 2-LP/CD "1".
"Yesterday" was perfomed live on the UK TV show "Blackpool Night Out" on August 01 1965 and the "Ed Sullivan show" in the United States on August 14 1965 (but aird almost a month later on September 12 1965). The song was also featured live on the Beatles 1966 Far Eastern and North American tour.
"Yesterday" is the most covered Beatles song of all time.