Stories Behind Classic Songs, Part 1

1) The melody of Yesterday came to McCartney in a dream

Yesterday needs no introduction; the fact that it holds the Guinness World Record for the most covered song of all-time should speak for itself. As of 1986, 1.600 versions were recorded according to Guinness and Mental Floss states that the number grew to 3.000 as of 2009. And it all started with McCartney waking up with this melody stuck in his head at his then girlfriend, Jane Asher’s home. After rushing to the piano and figuring the chords out, he spent the next weeks asking everybody what the melody is. He was convinced that it was just a song that’d been stuck in his head from hearing it somewhere else. With nobody being able to figure it out, McCartney started treating the idea as his own and started developing it. “Yesterday / All my troubles seemed so far away” originally was “Scrambled eggs / Oh my baby, how I love your legs”.


“Most musicians only dream of coming up with a melody half as good as my Yesterday.”

McCartney ended up being the only Beatle featured on the final track, singing and playing the acoustic guitar. Because it was so different than anything they’d done before, the band vetoed its release as a single in the UK, whereas the Americans sent it all the way to the top of the charts.

2) Keith Richards woke up with the Satisfaction riff already recorded

When naming (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction the 2nd greatest song of all-time, the Rolling Stone magazine credited it with transforming “rickety jump and puppy love of early rock & roll into rock”. And indeed, it’s hard to argue that the song’s signature fuzzbox-riff changed everything upon release, and to this day remains something we’ve all heard, memorized, obsessed over and then got sick of at some point. The surprise of hearing it for the first time was apparently shared by none other than its very own composer, Keith Richards. The guitarist would always carry a cassette player with him for recording new ideas as soon as they popped up in his head. One morning, he woke up to find the fresh tape that he’d placed in the player before going to bed run at the very end. He couldn’t remember recording anything, so he just assumed he’d hit the record button by accident. Upon hitting play and to his surprise, Keith heard himself getting up in the middle of the night, playing the classic riff and then going to back to sleep. The tape contained a few seconds of music history in the making…followed by a lot of snoring.


“Out of the many things I don’t remember revolutionizing in my rock ‘n’ roll career, here’s one.”

The creative process of the Jagger-Richards song-writing partnership back then was as follows: Richards would come up with the skeleton of the song, while then Jagger would flesh it out and make it into a finished product; by that time, Richards would already be working on a new idea. The same treatment was applied to (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. Three years after the song’s release, Jagger recalled that both he and Richards were underwhelmed upon hearing the song for the first time. The singer thought it sounded more like a folk song, while the guitarist doubted its potential as a single.


Categories: Stories Behind Classic Songs

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8 replies

  1. Enjoyed this. Why don’t I ever wake up with a classic tune in my head?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John Lennon was once having a problem writing a song. He spent 5 hours, could think of nothing, lay down and “Nowhere Man”, words and music, popped into his head. Also, here’s talk show host Jimmy Fallon with Paul McCartney working on “Scrambled Eggs.” Funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The story behind Satisfaction is tremendous. Could you imagine if he just rewound the tape and recorded over it without listening!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for following my blog. I immensely enjoyed this post being a Beatles and Stones fan. I read also that McCartney wrote Blackbird to honor MLK, which I find moving. I love Satisfaction, but there are other Stones’ songs I would rate higher at least in my book. Thanks for sharing this, Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That is a wild story re: Keith Richards and the Satisfaction riff. Like a previous commenter said, I wish ideas would so easily come to me!

    Liked by 1 person

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