The Paul McCartney Project

She's Leaving Home

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Mono) Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1967
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

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’s instrumental background 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

Paul McCartney said of the song:

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“, although he had been before, 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, in the The Guardian in December 2008 and she was interviewed about the song on the BBC programme The One Show on 24 November 2010.

Recording

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. 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.

Critical reception

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.

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

Live performances

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. […]

Paul McCartney in "Many Years From Now", by Barry Miles:

I rang [George Martin] and I said, ‘I need you to arrange it.’ He said, ‘I’m sorry, Paul, I’ve got a Cilla [Black] session.’ And I thought, Fucking hell! After all this time working together, he ought to put himself out. It was probably unreasonable to expect him to. Anyway, I said, ‘Well, fine, thanks George,’ but I was so hot to trot that I called Mike Leander, another arranger. I got him to come over to Cavendish Avenue and I showed him what I wanted, strings, and he said, ‘Leave it with me.’

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 20 Mar 1967. edited.
    UK: Parlophone PMC 7026 Sgt Pepper 1967.
    US: Capitol MAS 2653 Sgt Pepper 1967.
  • [b] stereo 17 Apr 1967. edited.
    UK: Parlophone PCS 7026 Sgt Pepper 1967.
    US: Capitol SMAS 2653 Sgt Pepper 1967.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46442 2 Sgt Pepper 1987.

A short amount of instrumental work between the verses was removed after the mixing was done, so both mixes are edited. Reverb had been added during mixing, and the edits are a little more obvious in stereo [b], just before Paul starts singing the second and third verses. The two mixes are at different speeds, and we believe stereo [b] was slowed down when mixed (rather than the mono being sped up), partly because the orchestra sounds better in mono [a]. Possibly the tape was made at an off-speed, like many Sgt Pepper songs, and was played for stereo mixing at normal speed?

Last updated on August 25, 2016

Lyrics

Wednesday morning at five o'clock
As the day begins
Silently closing her bedroom door
Leaving the note that she hoped would say more

She goes downstairs to the kitchen
clutching her handkerchief
Quietly turning the back door key
Stepping outside she is free

She
(We gave her most of our lives)
Is leaving
(Sacrificed most of our lives)
Home
(We gave her everything money could buy)
She's leaving home after living alone for
(Bye bye)
So many years

Father snores as his wife gets into her dressing gown
Picks up the letter that's lying there
Standing alone at the top of the stairs

She breaks down and cries to her husband
Daddy our baby's gone
Why would she treat us so thoughtlessly?
How could she do this to me?

She
(We never thought of ourselves)
Is leaving
(Never a thought for ourselves)
Home
(We struggled hard all our lives to get by)
She's leaving home after living alone for
(Bye bye)
So many years

Friday morning at nine o'clock she is far away
Waiting to keep the appointment she made
Meeting a man from the motor trade

She
(What did we do that was wrong?)
Is having
(We didn't know it was wrong)
Fun
(Fun is the one thing that money can't buy)
Something inside that was always denied for
(Bye bye)
So many years

She's leaving home
(Bye bye)

Officially appears on


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1967

3:35 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Lead vocals
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Stephen Shingles:
Viola
John Underwood:
Viola
Erich Gruenberg:
Violin
Derek Jacobs:
Violin
Trevor Williams:
Violin
José Luis Garcia:
Violin
Dennis Vigay:
Cello
Alan Dalziel:
Cello
Gordon Pearce:
Double bass
Sheila Bromberg:
Harp

Session Recording:
Mar 17, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Mar 20, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Mar 20, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1967

3:35 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Lead vocals
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Stephen Shingles:
Viola
John Underwood:
Viola
Erich Gruenberg:
Violin
Derek Jacobs:
Violin
Trevor Williams:
Violin
José Luis Garcia:
Violin
Dennis Vigay:
Cello
Alan Dalziel:
Cello
Gordon Pearce:
Double bass
Sheila Bromberg:
Harp

Session Recording:
Mar 17, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Mar 20, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Apr 17, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Back In The World

Official live • Released in 2003

3:53 • LiveL1

Paul McCartney:
Executive producer
Performed by:
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
David Kahne:
Producer
Michael Brauer:
Engineer
Ricardo Chavarria:
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Mexico City, Mexico on Nov 03, 2002


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

3:26 • Studio version


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

Studio version • Take 1 - Instrumental


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

Studio version • Take 6 - Instrumental


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

3:26 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Lead vocals
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Stephen Shingles:
Viola
John Underwood:
Viola
Erich Gruenberg:
Violin
Derek Jacobs:
Violin
Trevor Williams:
Violin
José Luis Garcia:
Violin
Dennis Vigay:
Cello
Alan Dalziel:
Cello
Gordon Pearce:
Double bass
Sheila Bromberg:
Harp

Session Recording:
Mar 17, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Mar 20, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Mar 20, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017)

Official album • Released in 2017

3:43 • Studio versionC • First mono mix. From "The Daily Beatle": New- "RM1" announcement from Emerick, Paul and John can be heard at the beginning ready to sing and then Paul’s count in. The harp at the intro has the ADT effect not featured on the final version and also the extra cello part is present here.

Session Mixing:
Mar 20, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Bootlegs




Yellow Submarine Sessions

Unofficial album

3:41 • Outtake • RS From Takes 1 & 6 Stereo


Take It Off!

Unofficial album

3:23 • Outtake


Sgt. Pepper's Sessions

Unofficial album

0:15 • Alternate take • Take 9 Fragment stereo


Live performances

“She's Leaving Home” has been played in 41 concerts.

Latest concerts where “She's Leaving Home” has been played



Dublin • RDS Arena

May 27, 2003 • Part of Back in the World tour






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