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 well - sont 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
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.
- 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
"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