Paul McCartney Says Elvis, Sinatra and Marvin Gaye Were Too "Macho" for "Yesterday"

That's why they all changed the lyrics when covering it

Photo: Mary McCartney

BY Alex HudsonPublished Feb 21, 2024

The Beatles' "Yesterday" has long been considered the world's most-covered song, and some of the biggest stars ever have performed their own versions of it. Now, Paul McCartney has responded to some of the most high-profile covers of the song, saying that artists like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Marvin Gaye tweaked the lyrics because they were too "macho" for the vulnerability of the original.

The songwriter discussed the song on the latest episode of McCartney: A Life in Lyrics on iHeartPodcasts. He pointed out that Presley, Sinatra and Gaye all made the same lyrical tweak, changing "I did something wrong" to "I must've done something wrong."

"Sinatra, Elvis and Marvin Gaye all altered the lyric," McCartney pointed out. "Because they were macho men, they said, 'Why she had to go I don't know, she wouldn't say / I must've done something wrong.'"

He doesn't disapprove of the change, mind you. He continued, "'I don't do things wrong! I'm Sinatra, I'm Elvis! I'm Marvin Gaye!' 'I must've done something wrong.' I love that disclaimer."

Hear the episode, including clips of many "Yesterday" covers, below.

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