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 titled “A-Level Girl Dumps Car and Vanishes”. Said piece was about a young lady named Melanie Coe. As the article’s title suggests, one day she left home and just vanished.
Being 17 years old at the time, this of course had Melanie’s dad, John Coe, alarmed and confused, since by all accounts she was living a privileged life.
Accordingly the newspaper article takes on a similar tone of concern, as she left home without taking any money, extra clothes or even her car.
Macca, when he read this story, empathized with Melanie Coe. And it should be noted that in the aforenoted article, there is nothing to indicate that she actually had any problems at home. The lyrics of the song, though made up by McCartney (i.e. not necessarily reflecting the real-life story), are faithful in that regard, in that they do not actually imply that the subject was forced away by any type of abusive circumstances.
But the reason Paul was able to relate was because according to him, ‘at the time there were a lot of these’, i.e. stories like that of Melanie Coe.
Story of “She’s Leaving Home”
So the way the song’s narrative breaks down is as so. The female subject, who is never actually named, decides to permanently slip out of the house during the early hours of the morning. She leaves a goodbye note behind, apparently for her parents to read. The implication is that she is quite young, or else most-logically speaking there would be no need for her to sneak out to begin with.
In the second verse, her mother finds the note and is resultantly distraught. She then lets her husband know that their “baby is gone”. And in the third verse, it is inferred that the reason the subject ran away was to meet up with some dude, i.e. her boyfriend. This is someone who in the lyrics is referred to as “a man from the motor trade”. In describing him so, McCartney’s goal was to imply that he’s some type of less-than-ideal character, i.e. a guy who would actually compel a girl to run away from her parents, just so he could have easier access to her, if you will.
Money can’t buy Fun!
As for the main sentiments being expressed, the chorus is relayed from both the subject’s and her parents’ perspectives. Concerning the former, it is ultimately implied that there is one sound issue she had with her home life, which was “always [being] denied” the opportunity to have “fun”.
All things considered, we will take that to mean that her parents stifled her freedom. But their viewpoint is present also. And the way they see it, they did nothing wrong in raising her.
However, reading in-between the lines, what’s going on here is a case of the parents equating money with happiness. In other words, they thought that granting their daughter the types of goods and resources people of her age covet would make her happy. And maybe those items did for a spell. But the girl was not actually having what she deemed to be “fun” in the process. Or as also relayed in the chorus, “fun is the one thing money can’t buy”.
Melanie Coe knew The Beatles personally?
Now here’s where things get a bit weird. It seems that Melanie Coe was personally familiar with The Beatles, as in having actually met the crew a few years before all of the above transpired. Indeed, it would seem that Miss Coe was a bit of what some may call a wild girl who for instance, due to her impressive looks, was able to hang out in the same venues 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 talent program called “Ready Steady Go!”. She was actually chosen as the winner of that particular episode by Paul McCartney himself.
Furthermore, during her participation on the show, she actually met The Beatles as opposed to just being in the same venue as them.
But there doesn’t seem to be any indication that Macca remembered her when he wrote this song. Rather, as alluded to earlier, his motivation was that he viewed teenagers running away as being sort of an epidemic, so to speak.
So despite not knowing the exact details of her situation, the song’s lyrics did get some specifics correct. For instance, by the time all was said and done it was discovered, just 10 days after she ran away, that Melanie had basically shacked up with her boyfriend, who impregnated her.
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 actual drama, who is also the roundabout subject of the lyrics, was not familiar with The Beatles like that, in that Paul McCartney did not have all of her details when writing this piece.
Owing to this, he generalized the narrative of “She’s Leaving Home” to present a more-encompassing tale whereas a girl is bored and frustrated to the point of eventually running away. But that noted said boredom and frustration, as can be gleaned and is inferred, was largely romance-based.
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).