Song facts: Michelle

On November 3rd 1965, The Beatles recorded Michelle, a new Paul McCartney love ballad for the band's forthcoming Rubber Soul album. The song is credited to Lennon/McCartney but was almost solely written by Paul; although John did help with the song's middle.

McCartney wrote the music first, adding the lyrics later. Michelle was a kind of joke party piece of Paul's he used to perform for a laugh but Lennon later convinced him to actually write a proper song. He wanted to have French in the song, so he asked a French teacher to translate these are words that go together wellsont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble.

 "We'd tag along to these parties, and it was at the time of people like Juliette Greco, the French bohemian thing... So I used to pretend to be French, and I had this song that turned out later to be 'Michelle'. It was just an instrumental, but years later John said: 'You remember that thing you wrote about the French?' I said: 'Yeah.' He said: 'That wasn't a bad song, that. You should do that, y'know.'" - Paul McCartney

Release

Michelle was released on Rubber Soul on December 3rd, 1965 and also won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year March 2nd 1967. In 1999 BMI named Michelle as the 42nd most performed song of the 20th century.

Personnel

  • Paul McCartney – lead vocal, bass, acoustic guitar
  • John Lennon – backing vocal, classical acoustic guitar
  • George Harrison – backing vocal, 12-string acoustic guitar, lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums
 Rubber Album cover and Lennon/McCartney 1965. 

Rubber Album cover and Lennon/McCartney 1965. 

"He and I were staying somewhere and he walked in and hummed the first few bars. with the words, and he says, 'Where do I go from here?' I had been listening to Nina Simone - I think it was I Put A Spell On You. There was a line in it that went: 'I love you, I love you.' That's what made me think of the middle eight for Michelle: I love you, I love you, I l-o-ove you.
So... my contribution to Paul's songs was always to add a little bluesy edge to them. Otherwise, y'know, Michelle is a straight ballad, right? He provided a lightness, and optimism, while I would always go for the sadness, the discords, the bluesy notes." - John Lennon
Share this post