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Throwback: 'Yesterday'

Today in 1965: Paul McCartney ballad hits No. 1


"Yesterday" was a long, long time ago.

It was 53 years ago today that the Beatles' signature ballad topped the Billboard Hot 100, a position it held for four weeks.

Legend has it that the melody came to Paul McCartney in a dream during a visit to the London home of then-girlfriend Jane Asher's family in early 1965. After rushing to the piano to play the tune out loud, he was convinced he had heard it somewhere before. So for about a month McCartney bounced it off friends in the music business.

"People said to me, 'No, it's lovely, and I'm sure it's all yours,'" he said in the 1997 biography "Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now" by Barry Miles. "It took me a little while to allow myself to claim it, but then like a prospector I finally staked my claim."

There was, however, one small problem: The poignant music that came to him so easily had no lyrics. For months, McCartney held the cadence in place with the nonsense title "Scrambled Eggs." Its opening line: "Scrambled eggs/Oh my baby how I love your legs."

He continued to work on the song during the filming of "Help!" and finally finished at the end of May, while he and Asher were vacationing in the Algarve region of Portugal.

"Yesterday" was the first Beatles song to feature only one band member, accompanied by a string quartet. It was the Fab Four's 11th No. 1 single in the U.S. since their explosive debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in February 1964 and the fourth out of five No. 1 hits in 1965 alone.

The enduring ballad has been covered more than 2,200 times over the past half-century, rivaling the Righteous Brothers "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" as the most covered song of all time.