From Me To You


“As I explained recently, Paul McCartney and I wrote the number on a coach journey between York and Shrewsbury. We were on the Helen Shapiro tour at the time. What puzzled us was why we’d thought of a name like ‘From Me To You.’ In fact, it had me thinking until only recently, when I picked up the NME to see how we were doing in the charts. Then I realised — we’d got the inspiration from reading a copy on the coach! Paul and I had been talking about one of the letters in the ‘From You To Us’ column.”John Lennon (1011)

The Word


“This could be a Salvation Army Song. The word is love, but it could be Jesus (it isn’t mind you, but it could be). ‘It’s so fine, it’s sunshine, it’s the word’. It’s about nothing, really, but it’s about love. It’s so much more original than our old stuff, less obvious. ‘Give the word a chance to say/ That the word is just the way’ – then the organ comes in, just like the Sally Army.”Paul McCartney (1012)
“It sort of dawned on me that love was the answer, when I was younger, on the Rubber Soul album. My first expression of it was a song called The Word. The word is ‘love’, in the good and the bad books that I have read, whatever, wherever, the word is ‘love’. It seems like the underlying theme to the universe.”John Lennon (1143)

Girl


“John’s been reading a book about pain and pleasure, about the idea behind Christianity – that to have pleasure you have to have pain. The book says that’s all rubbish; it often happens that pain leads to pleasure, but you don’t have to have it, that’s all a drag. So we’ve written a song about it. ‘Was she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure/ Did she understand it when they said, that a man must break his back to earn his day of leisure/ will she still believe it when he’s dead?’ Listen to John’s breath on the word ‘girl’: we asked the engineer to put it on treble, so you get this huge intake of breath and it sounds just like a percussion instrument.”Paul McCartney (1012)
“I was, in a way, trying to say something or other about Christianity which I was opposed to at the time. I was brought up in the church. I was just talking about Christianity in that – a thing like you have to be tortured to attain heaven. I’m only saying that I was talking about “pain will lead to pleasure” in “Girl” and that was sort of the Catholic Christian concept – be tortured and then it’ll be alright, which seems to be a bit true but not in their concept of it. But I didn’t believe in that, that you have to be tortured to attain anything, it just so happens that you were.”John Lennon (1074)
“Girl is real. There is no such thing as the girl; she was a dream, but the words are all right. It wasn’t just a song, and it was about that girl – that turned out to be Yoko, in the end – the one that a lot of us were looking for.”John Lennon (1143)
The Beatles Girl - Song Meaning

Martha My Dear


“It’s definitely about my dog Martha, but that’s only because the thought happened to come into my head when I was writing the song.”Paul McCartney (1013)
“It’s a communication of some sort of affection but in a slightly abstract way – ‘You silly girl, look what you’ve done,’ all that sort of stuff [many interpreted the song as a message to Jane Asher – Ed]. These songs grow. Whereas it would appear to anybody else to be a song to a girl called Martha, it’s actually a dog, and our relationship was platonic, believe me.”Paul McCartney (1140)
The Beatles Martha My Dear Song Meaning

The Ballad Of John And Yoko


“The follow-up to ‘Get Back’ is ‘The Ballad Of John And Yoko.’ It’s something I wrote, and it’s like an old-time ballad. It’s the story of us going along getting married, going to Paris, going to Amsterdam, all that. It’s ‘Johnny B. Paperback Writer.'”John Lennon (1014)
“It was very romantic. It’s all in the song, The Ballad Of John And Yoko, if you want to know how it happened, it’s in there. Gibraltar was like a little sunny dream. I couldn’t find a white suit – I had sort if off-white corduroy trousers and a white jacket. Yoko had all white on.”John Lennon (1074)

Hey Jude


“I happened to be driving out to see Cynthia Lennon. I think it was just after John and she had broken up, and I was quite mates with Julian [Lennon – Ed]. He’s a nice kid, Julian. And I was going out in me car just vaguely singing this song, and it was like “Hey Jules.” I don’t know why, “Hey Jules.” It was just this thing, you know, “Don’t make it bad/Take a sad song…” And then I just thought a better name was Jude. A bit more country & western for me.”Paul McCartney (1015)
“I thought, as a friend of the family, I would motor out to Weybridge and tell them that everything was all right: to try and cheer them up, basically, and see how they were. I had about an hour’s drive. I would always turn the radio off and try and make up songs, just in case… I started singing: ‘Hey Jules – don’t make it bad, take a sad song, and make it better…’ It was optimistic, a hopeful message for Julian: ‘Come on, man, your parents got divorced. I know you’re not happy, but you’ll be OK.’ I eventually changed ‘Jules’ to ‘Jude’. One of the characters in Oklahoma is called Jud, and I like the name.”Paul McCartney (1143)
“He said it was written about Julian, my child. He knew I was splitting with Cyn and leaving Julian. He was driving over to say hi to Julian. He’d been like an uncle to him. You know, Paul was always good with kids. And so he came up with Hey Jude. But I always heard it as a song to me. If you think about it… Yoko’s just come into the picture. He’s saying, ‘Hey, Jude – hey, John.’ I know I’m sounding like one of those fans who reads things into it, but you can hear it as a song to me. The words ‘go out and get her’ – subconsciously he was saying, Go ahead, leave me. On a conscious level, he didn’t want me to go ahead. The angel in him was saying, ‘Bless you.’ The devil in him didn’t like it at all because he didn’t want to lose his partner.”John Lennon (1074)

Let It Be


“[That’s your mother invoked in ‘Let It Be’, isn’t it? – Ed] Yeah, well, I had a lot of bad times in the ’60s there, and we used to sort of — probably all the drugs — lie in bed and wonder what was going on and feel quite paranoid. I had a dream one night about my mother. She died when I was 14 so I hadn’t really heard from her in quite a while, and it was very good. It gave me some strength. In my darkest hour Mother Mary comes to me. I don’t know whether you’ve got parents that are still living, but if you do… I get dreams with John in, and my Dad. It’s very nice because you meet them again. It’s wondrous, it’s like magic. Of course, you’re not meeting them, you’re meeting yourself, or whatever…”Paul McCartney (1017)
“One night during this tense time [during the sessions for the White Album, at a time when Paul McCartney felt isolated as the only member of The Beatles still keen to keep the group together – Ed] I had a dream I saw my mum, who’d been dead 10 years or so. And it was so great to see her because that’s a wonderful thing about dreams: you actually are reunited with that person for a second; there they are and you appear to both be physically together again. It was so wonderful for me and she was very reassuring. In the dream she said, ‘It’ll be all right.’ I’m not sure if she used the words ‘Let it be’ but that was the gist of her advice, it was, ‘Don’t worry too much, it will turn out OK.’ It was such a sweet dream I woke up thinking, Oh, it was really great to visit with her again. I felt very blessed to have that dream. So that got me writing the song Let It Be. I literally started off ‘Mother Mary’, which was her name, ‘When I find myself in times of trouble’, which I certainly found myself in. The song was based on that dream.”Paul McCartney (1140)

Lady Madonna


“Lady Madonna’s all women. How do they do it? — bless ’em — it’s that one, you know. Baby at your breast, how do they get the time to feed them? Where do you get the money? How do you do this thing that women do?”Paul McCartney (1017)
“One particular issue I saw in the ’60s had a woman, and she looked very proud and she had a baby [a National Geographic magazine photograph of a Malayo-Polynesian woman surrounded by three small children, one of them nursing. The image, taken by photographer Howard Sochurek, was published in an article titled “American Special Forces in Action in Viet Nam” in the January 1965 issue of the magazine – Ed]. I saw that as a kind of Madonna thing, mother and child … You know, sometimes you see pictures of mothers and you go, ‘She’s a good mother.’ You could just tell there’s a bond and it just affected me, that photo. So I was inspired to write ‘Lady Madonna,’ my song, from that photo.”Paul McCartney (1137)
“The original concept was the Virgin Mary but it quickly became symbolic of every woman; the Madonna image but as applied to ordinary working class woman. It’s really a tribute to the mother figure, it’s a tribute to women. ‘Your Mother Should Know’ is another. I think women are very strong, they put up with a lot of shit, they put up with the pain of having a child, of raising it, cooking for it, they are basically skivvies a lot of their lives, so I always want to pay a tribute to them.”Paul McCartney (1140)

For No One


“‘For No One’ was a bit more…I was going out with Jane Asher at the time, and I was…commenting on the relationship, perhaps. I know ‘I’m Looking Through You’ definitely was. I don’t know [if I was sending her a message – Ed]. Maybe. I don’t often do that but I think. Yeah, I probably was. That one and ‘I’m Looking Through You’ are just a young guy trying to send a message to his girlfriend. It’s actually one of the good things about writing songs, you can send messages. They’re easier to say in song. A guy who stutters – he can’t speak but he can sing. It’s the same with emotional stuff – you maybe can’t just say, in a relationship, “You’re really, really pissing me off” but if I played it to you in a song you just might get the idea.”Paul McCartney (1018)

When I’m 64


“I like the names, names are important, like they are to Mike Leigh the director. Vera, Chuck and Dave. It’s got to be a little tongue-in-cheek. George Martin, in his book, feels When I’m 64 is a young man recognising the displeasure of growing old. It wasn’t really, it was very tongue-in-cheek, “Vera, Chuck and Dave…if it’s not too dear”. It’s a parody on Northern life. It’s like I’m writing a little play.”Paul McCartney (1018)

I’m Looking Through You


“‘For No One’ was a bit more…I was going out with Jane Asher at the time, and I was…commenting on the relationship, perhaps. I know ‘I’m Looking Through You’ definitely was. I don’t know [if I was sending her a message – Ed]. Maybe. I don’t often do that but I think… (quietly sings a few lines from ‘For No One’). Yeah, I probably was. That one and ‘I’m Looking Through You’ are just a young guy trying to send a message to his girlfriend. It’s actually one of the good things about writing songs, you can send messages. They’re easier to say in song. A guy who stutters – he can’t speak but he can sing. It’s the same with emotional stuff – you maybe can’t just say, in a relationship, “You’re really, really pissing me off” but if I played it to you in a song you just might get the idea.”Paul McCartney (1018)
“I wrote quite a lot of stuff up in that room actually. ‘I’m Looking Through You’ I seem to remember after an argument with Jane [Asher – Ed]. There were a few of those moments. As is one’s wont in relationships, you will from time to time argue or not see eye to eye on things, and a couple of the songs around this period were that kind of thing. This one I remember particularly as me being disillusioned over her commitment. She went down to the Bristol Old Vic quite a lot around this time. Suffice to say that this one was probably related to that romantic episode and I was seeing through her façade. And realising that it wasn’t quite all that it seemed. I would write it out in a song and then I’ve got rid of the emotion. I don’t hold grudges so that gets rid of that little bit of emotional baggage. I remember specifically this one being about that, getting rid of some emotional baggage. ‘I’m looking through you, and you’re not there!'”Paul McCartney (1140)
“My whole existence for so long centred around a bachelor life. I didn’t treat women as most people do. I’ve always had a lot around, even when I’ve had a steady girl. My life generally has always been very lax, and not normal. I knew it was selfish. It caused a few rows. Jane left me once and went off to Bristol to act. I said OK then, leave, I’ll find someone else. It was shattering to be without her.”Paul McCartney (1141)

Sgt. Pepper (The Album)


“[Is it true that Sgt Pepper was conceived to be about your Liverpool childhoods? -Ed] No. It’s one of those things that gets printed in all the books. Yeah, and once it’s on a clipboard you’re sunk. Or these days, once it’s on a hard disk you’re really sunk. It keeps coming back. It’s like Linda was Eastman Kodak – she wasn’t, but it’s in a file somewhere. So it’s a question she always gets asked. The real story is that I was coming back from America on a bit of a holiday trip. I was in a very laid-back mode and dreaming away, and I started imagining this idea of The Beatles as another band, to be liberated, as liberated as I felt on this holiday. I didn’t actually relish going back into the studio and going, “Oh, ‘ere we go, Paul vocal, John vocal, George solo, drum break for Ringo…” It just sounded boring. So I hit upon this idea that I put to the other guys. Would it be a good idea to get a fictitious thing for ourselves, get fake personalities? So we all drew up a list of our heroes, which later became, when Peter Blake got hold of the idea, the characters in the crowd behind us. We just got alter egos, so when you got up to the mike to sing it was like it wasn’t me, it was as if it was a guy from Sgt Pepper.”Paul McCartney (1018)
“We were fed up with being the Beatles. We really hated that fucking four little mop-top boys approach. We were not boys, we were men. It was all gone, all that boy shit, all that screaming, we didn’t want any more. I thought, ‘Let’s not be ourselves. Let’s develop alter egos so we don’t have to project an image that we know. It would be much more free. What would really be interesting would be to actually take on the personas of this different band. We could say, ‘How would somebody else sing this? He might approach it a bit more sarcastically, perhaps.’ So I had this idea of giving the Beatles alter egos simply to get a different approach.”Paul McCartney (1073)
The Beatles - Sgt Pepper Album Meaning