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The 50th Anniversary of 'Yesterday': Why the Beatles Were Embarrassed by Their Hit Ballad

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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Fifty years after being recorded, “Yesterday” is the most covered song in the world, but most of the Beatles weren’t too keen about the now-popular track back in 1965.

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Paul McCartney awoke with the ditty in his head and immediately tickled the song out on his piano. With the framework complete, the singer checked to make sure the composition wasn’t written before and went about crafting the lyrics to the enduring tune.

Starting off with “Scrambled eggs / Oh, my baby, how I love your legs,” McCartney eventually turned this song about breakfast in bed into a bittersweet ode to how quickly love can be lost. When he presented “Yesterday” to the rest of group, the Beatles quickly noticed there was only room for McCartney to play on the track, an omission that seemed to be a relief to the rest of the rockers.

“We were a little embarrassed about it; we were a rock ‘n’ roll band, McCartney said about “Yesterday” in Anthology.

McCartney ended up recording the song in one take with his acoustic guitar, with a quartet of string instruments being dubbed in later.

The sappier-sounding “embarrassment” was buried on the B-side of Help! and wasn’t released as a single in the U.K., but it was in the U.S. This exposure helped propel the song to the top of the charts and demonstrated early on that the Beatles had a sound that was always evolving.

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Now, “Yesterday” has evolved into a Guinness World Record holder that is so popular, it’s even played in operating rooms.