The Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home” Lyrics Meaning
The Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home” has a very strange and interesting history. And perhaps the best place to start is with Paul McCartney’s initial inspiration to begin penning the track in the first place.
One day, while going through the 27 February 1967 edition of the British newspaper “The Daily Mail”, he came across an article entitled “A-Level Girl Dumps Car and Vanishes”. Said piece was about a young lady named Melanie Coe. And as its title suggests, one day she left home and just bounced. Being 17 years old at the time, this of course had her dad, John Coe, alarmed and confused, since by all accounts she was living a privileged life. And accordingly the newspaper article takes on a similar tone of concern, as Melanie left home without taking any money or anything.
Now Macca, when he read this story, sympathized with Melanie. And it should be noted that in the aforementioned article, there is nothing to indicate that she actually had any problems at home. And with that being said it should be noted that most of the storyline of “She’s Leaving Home”, despite being inspired by a real-life incident, was actually made up by McCartney. But again, the reason he was compelled and able to do so in the first place is because according to him, back in those days, “there was a lot of these”, i.e. stories like Melanie Coe’s, “at the time”.
Story of “She’s Leaving Home”
So the way the story in the song breaks down is as such. The female subject, who is never actually named, decides to slip out of house in the early hours of the morning. She leaves a goodbye note behind, apparently for her parents to read. And the implication is that she is quite young, or else logically speaking there would be no need for her to sneak out in the first place.
So by the second verse her mother finds her missive and is accordingly distraught. Then she lets her husband know that their “baby is gone”. And in the third verse, it is apparently revealed that the main reason she ran away was to meet up with some dude – i.e. her boyfriend – and be with him on a permanent basis.
As the sentimental motif of the song, the chorus is largely relayed from the parents’ perspective. And as with the previously-mentioned article, they are basically in disbelief. In other words, they have “sacrificed most of (their) lives” to give her “everything money could buy”. So they do not understand why she would be moved to leave just like that.
But the narrator also interjects during the chorus. And basically what he is saying is that throughout the years she has become alienated from her parents, indeed even “living alone” though not in a literal sense. Or to break things down in the simplest terms, she was not happy at home. That’s why the vocalist is later able to assert, in relation to her motive, that “fun is the one thing money can’t buy”.
Melanie Coe knew The Beatles personally?
Now this is where the story gets weird. It seems as Melanie was actually familiar with the Beatles, as in having actually met the crew a few years before this song was released. Indeed we can say that Miss Coe was a bit of a wild girl. And due to her impressive looks, was able to hang out in the same clubs as some of the big boys, like the Beatles and Rolling Stones, when she was just 13 years old.
During that same era she also participated on a popular dance program called “Ready Steady Go!”. And she was actually chosen as the winner of her particular outing by Paul McCartney himself. Indeed during her participation on the show she actually met the Beatles as opposed to just being in the same venue with them.
However, with that being established, there seems to be no clear indication that Macca actually remembered her when he wrote this song. Indeed as alluded to earlier, his motivation was that he viewed teenaged runaways to be sort of an epidemic, so to speak.
Moreover, despite not knowing the exact details of her situation, the song’s lyrics did get some specifics correct. For instance, at the end of the day Melanie did in fact wind up shacked up with her boyfriend. Indeed it was with him that she was eventually discovered, just 10 days after running away from home.
So conclusively, we can say this song is both specific and general at the same time. Yes, it was inspired by the tale of a real-life family. But the young lady at the center of that drama, who is also the roundabout subject of the song, was not familiar with the Beatles like that. And as such they generalized the narrative of “She’s Leaving Home” to present a more-encompassing tale in which a girl is bored and frustrated at home and in response decides to runaway.
Facts about “She’s Leaving Home”
This song was written by regular songwriting partners, the Beatles’ own John Lennon (1940-1980) and Paul McCartney. As such, a third entity, dubbed Lennon-McCartney, is also credited.
This track went on to win the pair an Ivor Novello award in 1967.
“She’s Leaving Home” originally came out, via Capitol Records and Parlophone Records, on the 26th of May 1967. It was part of the Beatles’ classic album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.
The Beatles did not actually play any instruments on this song. Rather they used a string orchestra led by the late English musician Mike Leander (1941-1996). In fact band members Ringo Starr and George Harrison (1943-2001) weren’t involved in the recording at all. Indeed some years later, McCartney went on to say that Mr. Harrison was quite pissed at him as a result of this. However, Macca made such a decision to expedite the recording of the tune.
This song has been covered by the likes of Syreeta (1972) and the Bee Gees (1978).