She's Leaving Home

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"She's Leaving Home"
Song by the Beatles from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Released 1 June 1967
Recorded 17 March 1967,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Baroque pop, classical
Length 3:26 (mono), 3:35 (stereo)
Label Parlophone
Writer Lennon–McCartney
Producer George Martin
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band track listing

"She's Leaving Home" is a Lennon–McCartney song, released in 1967 on the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. McCartney wrote and sang the verse and Lennon the chorus. The song was performed entirely by a small string orchestra arranged by Mike Leander, and was one of only a handful of Beatles songs in which the members did not play any instruments on the recording.

Background[edit]

Paul McCartney:

John and I wrote 'She's Leaving Home' together. It was my inspiration. We'd seen a story in the newspaper about a young girl who'd left home and not been found, there were a lot of those at the time, and that was enough to give us a story line. So I started to get the lyrics: she slips out and leaves a note and then the parents wake up ... It was rather poignant. I like it as a song, and when I showed it to John, he added the long sustained notes, and one of the nice things about the structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly. Before that period in our song-writing we would have changed chords but it stays on the C chord. It really holds you. It's a really nice little trick and I think it worked very well.

While I was showing that to John, he was doing the Greek chorus, the parents' view: 'We gave her most of our lives, we gave her everything money could buy.' I think that may have been in the runaway story, it might have been a quote from the parents. Then there's the famous little line about a man from the motor trade; people have since said that was Terry Doran, who was a friend who worked in a car showroom, but it was just fiction, like the sea captain in "Yellow Submarine", they weren't real people.[1]

The newspaper story McCartney mentioned was from the front page of the Daily Mirror, about a girl named Melanie Coe. Although McCartney invented most of the content in the song, Coe, who was 17 at the time, claims that most of it was accurate. In actuality, Coe did not "meet a man from the motor trade", but instead a croupier, and left in the afternoon while her parents were at work, while the girl in the song leaves early in the morning as her parents sleep. Coe was found ten days later because she had let slip where her boyfriend worked.[2] When she returned home, she was pregnant and had an abortion.[3]

In a bizarre coincidence, Coe had actually met McCartney three years earlier, in 1963 when he chose her as the prize winner in a dancing contest on ITV's Ready Steady Go!.[4] An update on Coe appeared in the Daily Mail in May 2008,[5] and she was interviewed about the song on the BBC programme The One Show on 24 November 2010.

Recording[edit]

The day before McCartney wanted to work on the song's score, he learned that George Martin, who usually handled the Beatles' string arrangements, was not available. He contacted Mike Leander, who did it in Martin's place. It was the first time a Beatles song was not arranged by Martin (and the only time it was done with the Beatles' consent: Phil Spector's orchestration of Let It Be was done without McCartney's knowledge). Martin was hurt by McCartney's actions, but he produced the song and conducted the string section. The harp was played by Sheila Bromberg, one of the first studio musicians to appear on a Beatles record.[6][7]

The stereo version of the song runs at a slower speed than the mono mix, and consequently is a semitone lower in pitch. This is mentioned in the booklet accompanying The Beatles in Mono CD box set, but no reason is given. A 2007 Mojo magazine article revealed the mono mix was sped up to make Paul sound younger and tighten the track.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

When discussing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, composer Ned Rorem described "She's Leaving Home" as "equal to any song that Schubert ever wrote."[9] In April 1967, McCartney visited Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys in L.A. to preview Sgt. Pepper, playing "She's Leaving Home" on the piano for him and his wife. "We both just cried," Wilson said. "It was beautiful."[3]

Writers Lennon and McCartney received the 1967 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.[10]

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[11]

Cover versions[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Miles 1997, p. 316.
  2. ^ Turner 2010, pp. 125–127.
  3. ^ a b "82 - 'She's Leaving Home'". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  4. ^ YouTube 2009.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Martin & Hornsby 1994, pp. 207–208.
  7. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 103.
  8. ^ Irvin, Jim. "The Big Bang!", Mojo. March 2007.
  9. ^ Time 1967.
  10. ^ Lister, David, Pop ballads bite back in lyrical fashion, The Independent, 28 May 1994
  11. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 245.
  12. ^ Thomas, Stephen. "Pandemonium Shadow Show - Harry Nilsson : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  13. ^ Mills, Ted. "Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father - Various Artists : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  14. ^ Yanow, Scott. "A I Got No Kick Against Modern Jazz - Various Artists : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Thomas, Stephen. "Sgt. Pepper Live - Cheap Trick : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 

References[edit]