Casetta’s Yesterday, Scrambled Eggs Is What You Meant To Say was originally published at Backwash on November 18, 2004 — look for the update at the end!
Recently a poll was conducted in the UK to determine the worse song ever and The Beatles’ 1968 song “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” was chosen. Now, I love The Beatles. I have all their albums, some outtakes recordings, some video performances, books, and even some little figurines, and while I wouldn’t choose that song as the most annoying song ever, I will admit it is kind of a stinker.
This got me thinking, is this even the worse Beatle song? Surely, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is worse than that early attempt at light reggae and that whole Abbey Road medley thing has always annoyed me for some reason. It was time to pose this question to others and surprisingly I discovered that no single song by those lovable mop tops stood out. Some people gave arguments to defend “Fool On The Hill”, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and “Octopus’s Garden”. I stood up for “Being For The Benefit of Mister Kite”, “Goodnight” and even “Yellow Submarine”. Then there was the song “Yesterday”. I have a love hate/relationship with this one because it, more than any other Beatle song, failed to live up to its original potential.
Supposedly this is the most recorded or most performed song of all time and maybe that is why many of us have a problem with “Yesterday”. We are just so sick of it. I have to admit; I find it nauseating and blame Paul McCartney and this song for launching what would become all that California singer-songwriter swill.
Paul McCartney could have saved the Seventies from a world of Dan Fogelbergs had he only stuck with the original lyrics:
Have an omellette with some Muenster cheese,
Put your dishes in the washbin’ please,
So I can clean the scrambled eggs
Join me, do,
There are lots of eggs for me and you,
I’ve got ham and cheese and bacon too,
So go get two and join me, do
Fried or sunny-side,
Just aren’t right.
The mix bowl begs,
Quick, go get a pan, and we’ll scramble up
Some eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs,
Good for breakfast, dinner time or brunch,
Don’t buy six or twelve, buy a bunch,
And we’ll have lunch on scrambled eggs
(1965 Northern Songs Ltd/Sony/ATV/Music Publishing)
That is the kind of song I would sing to my love, not the nauseating ode about longing for the past. Heck, I’m bummed Paul didn’t see the genius of the original line he scrapped “Scrambled eggs, oh my baby, how I love your legs”. I can’t count how many times I’ve uttered those exact words!
Now you know my love/hate relationship with “Yesterday”. I love it for what it could have been but I am disappointed. I can only hope that when Paul sings “I said something wrong now I long for yesterday”, he is telling me that he knows he screwed up and should have stuck with the original lyrics.
A few years back, someone sent me a collection of the Esher Demos that The Beatles recorded in May of 1968 at George Harrison’s home, Kinfauns, in the London suburb of Esher. They gathered to make rough demos of material to use for The White Album. There are no other tapes that document the Beatles rehearsing and making demo recording outside of the EMI Studios. Here we find them working on demos in a mostly acoustic setup. The result is a wonderful “unplugged” collection of songs. While a few of the songs showed up on the Anthology releases, most of the recordings have never been legitimately released.
Among the demos was an early version of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and I was forced to revoke it’s “stinker” status. It is truly magical (as are all these demos) and those who answered that poll back in 2004 would agree. The stripped down version gives it a much needed earthy feel that has me appreciating the song in ways I never had.
As for my stand on “Yesterday”, I still long for the original words and not even sure if Paul himself would ever record the whole thing, but much to my surprise he did play around with the original words while a guest on The Jimmy Fallon Show and not only that he sang the much loved original lyrics that I longed to hear….
You can also hear the Esher Demos here: