She's Leaving Home
|"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
|Length||3:26 (mono), 3:35 (stereo)|
|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. Paul McCartney wrote and sang the verse and John Lennon the chorus while neither George Harrison nor Ringo Starr were involved in the recording. 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.
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.
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. When she returned home, she was pregnant and had an abortion.
By 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!. An update on Coe appeared in the Daily Mail in May 2008, and she was interviewed about the song on the BBC programme The One Show on 24 November 2010.
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 or approval). Martin was hurt by McCartney's actions, but he produced the song and conducted the string section. The harp was played by Sheila Bromberg, the first female musician to appear on a Beatles record.
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.
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." Author Ian MacDonald considered "She's Leaving Home" to be the best song on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band along with "A Day in the Life". 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."
- Paul McCartney - double-tracked lead vocals
- John Lennon - double-tracked lead vocals
- Mike Leander - string arrangement
- George Martin - conductor, producer
- Erich Gruenberg - violin
- Derek Jacobs - violin
- Trevor Williams - violin
- José Luis García - violin
- John Underwood - viola
- Stephen Shingles - viola
- Dennis Vigay - cello
- Alan Dalziel - cello
- Peter Halling - cello
- Gordon Pearce - double bass
- Sheila Bromberg - harp
Paul McCartney performed the song live for the first time by any Beatle on the (North America) second leg of his 2002 Driving World Tour. He later reprised the song on his 2003 Back in the World Tour.
- Harry Nilsson on his album Pandemonium Shadow Show (1967).
- Esther & Abi Ofarim on their album Up to Date (1968).
- Richie Havens on his album Richard P. Havens 1983 (1969).
- Kathy McCord on her album Kathy McCord (1970).
- Euson on his album Both Sides Now (1971).
- Syreeta Wright on her album Syreeta (1972).
- Bryan Ferry on the soundtrack album to All This and World War II (1976).
- Al Jarreau on his album All Fly Home (1978).
- Steven Tyler, The Bee Gees, Jay MacIntosh and John Wheeler in the film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (film) (1978)
- Mina on her album Kyrie (1980).
- Billy Bragg with Cara Tivey on the tribute album Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father (1988).
- McCoy Tyner on the tribute album (I Got No Kick Against) Modern Jazz (1995).
- Carl Doy on his album Together (2002).
- Brad Mehldau on his album Day is Done (2005).
- Carrie Underwood on the season 6 finale of American Idol (2007).
- Cheap Trick on their album Sgt. Pepper Live (2009).
- Andy Timmons on the album Andy Timmons Band Plays Sgt. Pepper (2011).
- The Flaming Lips on their album With a Little Help from My Fwends ( 2014).
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