She's Leaving Home
- Paul McCartney - double-tracked lead vocals
- John Lennon - double-tracked backing vocals
- Mike Leander - string arrangement
- George Martin - conductor
- Erich Gruenberg, Derek Jacobs, Trevor Williams, Jose Luis García - violin
- John Underwood, Stephen Shingles - viola
- Dennis Vigay, Alan Dalziel - cello
- Gordon Pearce - double bass
- Sheila Bromberg - harp
A song conceived by Paul McCartney, this Lennon-McCartney collaboration had Paul writing the verse and John, the chorus. Lennon also provided input on counter-melody and some of the words. It was recorded at Abbey Road on March 17 & 20, 1967 and released on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on June 1 (June 2 in the US). It is one of a very few Beatles songs in which the group sings without playing any instruments. (Good Night, The Inner Light and Eleanor Rigby are the others.) George and Ringo did not participate in the recording at all.
Paul later said he liked the way the song sustained a long C chord -- something he attributed to Lennon's hand -- instead of jumping around with a lot of chord changes, as was the case in their earlier songwriting. The song is based on a story that Paul read in the Daily Mail about a 17-year-old girl who runs away from home to be with a man. The verses are written from her point of view, and the chorus is from the parents' viewpoint. ("We gave her most of her lives," etc.) Paul called this "the Greek chorus" as in a classical play where the chorus comments on the action.
This song also is noteworthy because McCartney, needing a string arrangement, contacted a contract composed (Mike Leander) when he found out that George Martin was unavailable. He did not imagine George would mind. In fact, Martin was very offended, and McCartney learned a valuable lesson about "dancing with the one that brought you to the ball." The presence of harpist Sheila Bromberg was the first time a woman has appeared on a Beatles record in a musician's role.
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. (Miles, 1997, p. 316)