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 song, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and released in 1967 on The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. McCartney wrote and sang the verse and Lennon the chorus. This was one of a handful of songs of the Beatles in which the members did not play any instruments.

Background[change | change source]

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 made up most of the content, Coe, who was 17 at the time said that he got most of it right. Her parents wondered why she had left... "She has everything here." In real life, Melanie did not "meet a man from the motor trade", but instead a croupier, and left in the afternoon while her parents were at work. She was found ten days later because she had said where her boyfriend worked.[2]

Coincidentally, Coe had met McCartney three years earlier when she was a contestant and prize winner on ITV's Ready Steady Go!.[3] An update on Melanie appeared in the Daily Mail in May 2008.[4]

Recording[change | change source]

The day before McCartney wanted to work on the string arrangement, he learned that George Martin was not available to do the score. He contacted Mike Leander, who did it in Martin's place. It was the first time a Beatle 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, the first female musician to appear on a Beatles record.[5][6]

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.[7]

Critical reception[change | change source]

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."[8]

Personnel[change | change source]

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[9]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. Miles 1997, p. 316.
  2. Turner 2010, pp. 125–127.
  3. YouTube 2009.
  4. Hall 2009.
  5. Martin & Hornsby 1994, pp. 207–208.
  6. Lewisohn 1988, p. 103.
  7. Irvin, Jim. "The Big Bang!", Mojo. March 2007.
  8. Time 1967.
  9. MacDonald 2005, p. 245.

Other websites[change | change source]

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  • MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised Edition ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-844-13828-3
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