Why Paul McCartney's father complained about the lyrics to The Beatles' 'She Loves You'

Paul McCartney, Jim McCartney, and Michael McCartney
Paul McCartney, Jim McCartney, and Michael McCartney / Keystone/GettyImages

In The Beatles' early days, Paul McCartney and John Lennon used to write songs at Paul's childhood home. His father, Jim McCartney, a musician, used to smoke his pipe in the living room and overhear his son's songwriting process. Sometimes, he voiced his opinions.

Paul McCartney's dad was a seasoned musician, but refused to teach his son piano

In The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, Paul wrote that his father came from the music hall era and would often play the piano for the family. Jim was a seasoned musician and was the frontman and trumpet player for Jim Mac's Jazz Band.

In The Beatles Anthology, Paul called his father "an instinctive musician." Jim told biographer Hunter Davies (per Rolling Stone), "I ran that band for about four or five years, just part-time. I was the alleged boss, but there were no distinctions."

However, despite Jim's expertise, he refused to give his son piano lessons. Paul's father wanted him to take lessons from a professional and learn "the real stuff." Jim didn't believe he was good enough. After a few lessons, though, Paul stopped and self-taught.

"I found lessons to be too restricting and boring," Paul said. "It was much more interesting to make up songs than to practice scales." Jim might not have taught Paul piano, but he did give his two cents when it came to some of The Beatles' early songs.

Paul McCartney with his father.
Paul McCartney and Jim McCartney / Keystone/GettyImages

Paul McCartney's father complained about the lyrics to The Beatles' 'She Loves You'

When Paul met John Lennon in 1957, the pair frequently wrote songs at Paul's house on Forthlin Road. Even when The Beatles started climbing the stardom ladder in the early 1960s, the pair still wrote songs at Paul's childhood home.

They wrote "Love Me Do" by Jim's favorite tree and finished "She Loves You" in the dining room. Jim was in the living room smoking his pipe and watching TV when the songwriting partners finished "She Loves You."

In The Lyrics, Paul wrote that Jim "complained about our singing 'yeah, yeah, yeah' and wondered if we shouldn't sing 'yes, yes, yes.' He was concerned about too many Americanisms creeping into U.K. English. If we'd done that, I'm not sure it would have become our biggest-selling single in the U.K."

The "yeah, yeah, yeah," came from the call-and-response structure that was present in some tunes then. Someone would sing, "She loves you," and the other would answer, "Yeah, yeah, yeah." Paul said, "That idea got lost along the way."

Jim McCartney continued to inspire Paul

Paul's father continued to inspire him. Jim was definitely in Paul's mind when he wrote The Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four." It's not exactly a Beatles song, but it certainly references the rag-time music Jim loved.

"'When I’m Sixty-Four' was not a send-up but a kind of nostalgic, if ever-so-slightly satirical tribute to his dad," The Beatles' producer George Martin explained in 1994 (per Rolling Stone).

Jim deeply influenced Paul and still does, but in the case of "She Loves You," Jim was wrong. If Paul and John had taken his advice to change the lyrics to "Yes, yes, yes," it would've been strange, to say the least.

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