19. 'She's Leaving Home'
Main Writer: McCartney
Recorded: March 17 and 20, 1967
Released: June 2, 1967
Not released as a single
"She's Leaving Home" was inspired by a newspaper story about a well-to-do 17-year-old girl named Melanie Coe who disappeared from her parents' home in London. While McCartney took the perspective of the teen runaway, Lennon sang counterpoint (the "Greek chorus," as McCartney called it) in the voice of the heartbroken parents.
McCartney was so impatient to record the song, he hired arranger Mike Leander to orchestrate the strings instead of waiting for George Martin, who was busy with another artist. "I was surprised and hurt," Martin admitted. "It was just Paul being Paul."
The real-life Melanie Coe ended up going back home to her mom and dad after three weeks; she was pregnant and had an abortion. But the girl in the song represented all the teenagers who were running away from their conventional lives in the Sixties. In April 1967, McCartney visited Brian Wilson in L.A. to preview Sgt. Pepper, playing "She's Leaving Home" on the piano for him and his wife. "We both just cried," Wilson said. "It was beautiful."
Appears On: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band