John Lennon / Paul McCartney

Yesterday

    Description by "Blue" Gene Tyranny

    At first called "Scrambled Eggs," the title of this touching song which has become one of the most popular tunes of all time was thankfully soon changed upon the release of the album Help! in 1965. It was the first tune sung solo by a member (Sir Paul McCartney) of the Beatles group, and also explored the resources of the multi-track studio, primarily by the addition of a string quartet.

    The song is a portrait of the emotions of a man recently rejected by his lover for an insensitive remark, and who is now searching for a spiritual place of reassurance: "I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday."

    The verse opens with a large arching phrase that covers seven measures. The emotional tension is created by a series of resolutions of a non-harmonic tone into a harmonic tone -- for example, the first word "Yesterday" sung against an F major chord, resolves a G note to an F; on the words "...far away" on a D minor chord, the notes are an E resolving to a D; on "...here to stay" on an F chord, B flat moves to an A. Between these points the melody line consists mostly of lyrical scale runs ending in a plagal (Amen) cadence.

    The bridge modulates to the relative minor key (D minor) by a beautiful harmonic touch: instead of simply repeating an A dominant seventh chord ("Why she..."), the collaborators recapitulate the chords from the second measure of the verse (E minor seventh, A seventh) but place them over a pedal point on A. This subtle choice creates a tonal richness that suggests an approaching Dorian mode which is changed to a pure Aeolian (minor) in the next measure.

    In this bridge, the melody hangs around in the upper register. There is a series of sighs, or sublimated pleas ("Why she had to go I don't know she wouldn't say"), marked with dynamic crescendos and diminuendos before the verse returns and concludes with the same seven measure melody.

    A simple, hummed two-measure coda seems to sum up the harmonic flow of the tune: the tonic chord (F over C) is heard for two beats, the second measure "modulator" (G over B) for two beats, and the plagal cadence fills the last measure. Amen.

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2019
    Deutsche Grammophon
    7725932
    2018
    Fanfare
    446
    2017
    Vinyl Ermitage
    VNL 1303
    2017
    ABC Classics
    2016
    Mercury Classics
    2016
    Decca / Mercury Classics
    4812310
    2016
    Symphonia
    ERM 1036
    2015
    Mark Westling
    2015
    Warner Classics
    552773
    2015
    Tony Palmer Films / United States of Distribution
    TPCD 186
    2014
    Nimbus Alliance
    NI 6272
    2013
    Hip-O / Island / Polydor
    2013
    Bertus Distribution / Polydor
    3753681
    2011
    Various Artists
    Decca
    2011
    Aliud Records
    ACDHA 0062
    2011
    RPO
    SP025
    2011
    Carl Davis Collection
    CDC 012
    2010
    Ambroise / Ambroisie
    AM 183
    2010
    Various Artists
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099969545
    2010
    EMI Music Distribution
    28551
    2009
    Various Artists
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    2167842
    2009
    ATMA Classique
    ACD 23008
    2008
    Various Artists
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099921524
    2008
    Thorofon / Zebralution
    2008
    Various Artists
    EMI Classics
    43973
    2008
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099920706
    2008
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics / EMI Music Distribution
    5099951458
    2008
    Various Artists
    Universal Distribution
    5308780
    2008
    Various Artists
    Decca
    0010413
    2008
    Decca / Universal Classics & Jazz
    2008
    Universal Classics / Universal Distribution
    1740835
    2007
    Music Brokers
    9827
    2007
    Laserlight
    32860
    2005
    EMI Music Distribution
    36172
    2005
    Compendia Music Group / Intersound
    5941
    2004
    Compendia Music Group / Intersound
    5758
    2004
    Syllaria
    SP 100042
    2004
    Troubadour
    108
    2004
    Detroit Public TV / DPTV Media
    227
    2004
    Reader's Digest Music
    4018
    2003
    Chateau Music Group / Pro Piano
    10002
    2003
    LMS
    5637402694
    2002
    Madacy Distribution / Madacy
    1242
    2001
    Atma / ATMA Classique
    ACD 22218
    2001
    JVC Victor / Victor Entertainment
    61267
    2001
    Telarc Distribution
    SACD 60540
    2001
    Telarc Distribution
    CD 80540
    2001
    Columbia / Sony Music Distribution
    5024652000
    2000
    BMG Special Products / RCA
    63664
    2000
    Sony Music Distribution
    SFK-89277
    1999
    Haenssler
    98360
    1999
    Analekta
    AN28717
    1999
    Bandleader
    5144
    1999
    Aura Records
    146
    1998
    Koch Discover International
    DICD920518
    1998
    RCA
    BVCF-1548
    1998
    Arc Music
    EUCD 1442
    1997
    Sony Classical
    62886
    1997
    BMG
    61163
    1996
    Signum UK
    7000
    1996
    BMG / RCA
    68376
    1995
    Koch / Koch International
    321645
    1995
    Teldec
    0630100122
    1995
    Instrumental
    1832
    1995
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4471042
    1995
    RCA / RCA Victor
    22488
    1995
    Signum UK
    6300
    1995
    Alanna Records / Alanna
    ACD 5563
    1994
    EMI Angel / Angel Records
    5562282
    1994
    Chandos Collect
    CHAN 6604
    1993
    ASV
    2056
    1992
    Thorofon
    1991
    Sony Music Distribution
    46635
    1990
    Angel Records / EMI Music Distribution
    CDC-54155
    1988
    EMI Angel / Angel Records / Warner Classics
    7495562
    1988
    SCL / Sony Music Distribution
    44701
    1988
    CBS Records / Sony Classical
    42520
    1988
    Reader's Digest Music
    081
    1983
    CBS Masterworks / CBS Records
    37243
    Pickwick
    646
    Yuri Liberzon
    Bandleader
    5143
    Evosound
    32
    Sony BMG
    800938
    Marcelo Galliano
    7103
    CBS Records
    44701
    SPSB
    1
    Rec Classic
    20057
    Aguila Records
    111
    IMP BBC Radio Classics
    5691652
    Carlton
    569165
    Various Artists
    Madacy
    46635
    Pro-Arte Records
    446
    Sony Music Distribution
    48299
    Monitor Classics
    61729
    Zotos
    1022131
    PricewaterhouseCoopers
    2007