For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme, Jim Adams focused his attention on personal pronouns: I, me, them, us, you, and we. After long consideration, I ended up choosing “She’s Leaving Home” by the Beatles.
“She’s Leaving Home” was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and was released on their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. McCartney wrote and sang the verse and John Lennon wrote the chorus, which they sang together.
The song, according to McCartney, was based on a newspaper story he read about a girl who was 17 years old and had run away from home, leaving everything behind. Her father was quoted as saying, “I cannot imagine why she should run away, she has everything here.”
McCartney said that there were a lot of stories like this at the time and that was enough to give him the storyline. “So I started to get the lyrics: she slips out and leaves a note and the parents wake up, it was rather poignant,” he said. “When I showed it to John, he added the Greek chorus and long sustained notes. One of the nice things about the structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly.”
Interestingly, no member of the Beatles played instruments on this. John and Paul contributed vocals, which were double-tracked to sound like a quartet, and session musicians played strings. The first female to play on a Beatles album, Sheila Bromberg, played harp.
I wasn’t a parent when I first heard this song in my late teens, and I could understand the girl’s desire to get out of her parents’ home, where she felt somewhat estranged (“She’s leaving home, after living alone, for so many years”). But after becoming a parent and watching my own children grow up and go out on their own, I could understand the melancholy the girl’s parents felt. Fortunately, our kids never snuck out and ran away from home like the girl in the song. But these days, I do find this song to be heartbreaking whenever I listen to it.
Here are the song’s 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 backdoor 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 so many years (bye bye)
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 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 Motortrade
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 so many years
She’s leaving home, bye, bye