“I believe in yesterdayÃ¢Â?Â¦” Clearly I’m not the only one who believes “Yesterday,” by Paul McCartney, is one of the greatest sad songs ever written. Many feel it is the top pop song, period, sad or otherwise. (Many statisticians who track such things list it as the most covered song of all time.)
As a sophomore in college, the Viet Nam war raising it’s ugly head; angst was my middle name. When I personally first heard “Yesterday” on the radio, I trotted out and bought the album and listened over and over to the lilting melody, the delicate string passes and heartfelt delivery of McCartney as he searched for a place to hide away. When someone leaves your life without telling you why or saying goodbye, truly that is the harshest hit of all.
Now, I ask you, what could be sadder than thinking that all the good that has ever happened or will happen to you has happened “yesterday” The song lyric delicately searches with a decidedly European sensibility as melancholy pervades the melody. More than speaking to a single tragic loss or event, “Yesterday” speaks to a state of mind which offers little hope. When it comes to words, by contrast, in her uniquely American way, Scarlett O’Hara utters those memorable lines, “After all, tomorrow is another day.” Would have been a good title of the song on the flip side of the “Yesterday” ’45. (“Act Naturally” by Ringo is on the actual flip side.)
I offer no judgement on which attitude serves one best in life. Looking to tomorrow is hopeful, but too often leads to expedience and tearing down of the past; whereas, remembering the best of yesterday, although sad at times, fosters reverence for beauty, art and lessons learned.
Perhaps it’s best to remember that a wee bit of both is the right blend in the teapot. I expect Sir Paul is having a cuppa’ right now. Cheers, Sir Paul and thanks for a great song.