Yesterday, Scrambled Eggs Is What You Meant To Say

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:

Scrambled Eggs,
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,

Scrambled 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.

Update:

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:

Treasure in a Wooden Box

Dainec posted Treasure in a Wooden Box at Backwash on September 24, 2003 — there’s an update at the end!

He trudged between the neighbors’ houses towards home, and I did a double-take when I glanced out the window to make sure he was on his way. He was burdened by something more than the usual homework-laden backpack.

“You have a cello,” I noted, using my keen powers of observation. After all, I had signed the permission form for 4th-grade strings, and I wrote the check to cover instrument rental for the year. I’m good at putting two and two together like that. “When do you start strings class?”

“I already did,” he responded. “My homework tonight is to practice. Do you want to listen to me practice?”

Without waiting for an answer, he cast off his backpack and unzipped the instrument case. “A lot of kids have played my cello before me,” he said solemnly.

I had been a little nervous about my son being responsible for something so delicate as a stringed instrument. He’s not exactly the careful type. But when I laid eyes on his cello, my fears vanished. The finish is worn. A chunk of wood is missing from the bottom edge. I notice that the back edges are held together with what looks like wood grain contact paper.

Turbo interrupted my thoughts. “This is the fingerboard,” he said, pointing to a piece of wood that juts under the strings. “Never pick up the cello by the fingerboard.” He paused. “I’m just touching it. It’s okay to touch it, but it’s not a handle.”

“Do you know what this is?” he asked, pointing to a spot near the top. “It’s the peg box. We’re not supposed to turn the pegs. Only the teacher does that.” He paused again. “It’s okay to touch the pegs, just don’t turn them.”

I’m fascinated and impressed. We’re a family of musicians, but I’m a woodwinds person, and SpiritMan is a more of a rock/electronic type. MoonChild is the only experienced strings player in our house, having started viola in grade school. She has since added piano and bass guitar to her repertoire. If she had more time, she’d be playing drums, too. Moon has the music in her; it’s intuition.

Turbo, on the other hand, never seemed all that interested in learning an instrument. So I was surprised and secretly pleased when he told me he was planning to participate in strings this year.

I had started piano lessons at age 8, but my heart wasn’t in it until 5th grade presented the chance to be in band. The first day of class, we looked at pictures of different instruments and listened to a recording of their sounds. I chose flute at first. We all started by playing the mouthpieces. It looked rather odd, the future trumpeters with their little brass nozzles, the winds players making kazoo noises.

The flute was beyond me. I switched to clarinet and made a glorious noise that lasted through the rest of my school career.

“This is what we’re learning,” Turbo stated as he positioned the cello between his legs. He began bowing vigorously on the open strings. DAH – DAH – DAHDAHDAHDAH … DAH – DAH – DAHDAHDAHDAH …

He played with confidence. The tone was amazing, not the stuff of tenuous first attempts.

SpiritMan called to say he was on his way home, and I held the phone up for him to hear. “Is that Moon?” he wondered.

“No, it’s Turbo. Isn’t it great?” I couldn’t wait for him to get home and witness for himself.

Later, Turbo carefully put away the cello (I noticed the entire back is covered with contact paper, a true school instrument), zipped the case, and surveyed his room for the safest and best place to keep it. I helped him move a bookcase so that the space would be just right.

Dare I say that I’m proud? That I’m excited? That I’m bubbling over with anticipated joy? I look ahead and I see my past: the satisfaction of expressing feelings for which I had no words, the exhilaration of being part of something beautiful and fleeting, the excitement of facing an audience despite my internal butterflies, the healthy competition and the easy camaraderie.

I don’t imagine for a minute that I’m raising concert musicians who will perform before millions and make untold riches. But if they can uncover the pleasure and beauty hidden in notes and chords, they’ll have something that will remain theirs for life.

Maybe even longer.

Update:

Turbo switched from cello to trumpet a few years later, but didn’t keep it up. However, he has an amazing voice — which he’s used in a few garage bands and to serenade select girls. Moon still has a love for music, but decided to pursue a career as a software engineer. She occasionally gets out her bass guitar and plays tunes from Sabaton and other favorite bands. SpiritMan has a large collection of percussion instruments. He and I are part of a kirtan band, Indra Adhira. I still have my clarinet from high school.

Aine :)