Paul McCartney believes in Yesterday – and in a lot of way he is right to. It has made him a staggering amount of money after all. But I think it might be educational to see exactly what Paul is trying to say when he asserts that he believes in Yesterday.

Firstly there is the idea that Yesterday, as a time period, has an objective reality. If we ignore the problems introduced by pinning down an artificially discrete time period and take it as read that Paul means the day before today we still need to know what kind of existence he holds it to have. Is there a recorder of time, some watcher figure who’s job it is to jot down Yesterday in all of its diverse ways. Temperature in Khazakstan, where Jane Asher was, how many time Ringo attempt a para-diddle and failed. It is more likely that Paul is referring to his own recollection of Yesterday. Which is where fallibility comes in – especially when he admits that suddenly he isn’t half the man he used to be. What if that half that he has lost contains important data about Yesterday (say, like a beat or an interesting melody).

Of course this is all assuming that Paul believes in a discrete Yesterday, rather than some kind of ideal preceding period which could be called All Our Yesterdays. All Yesterday’s Parties could come into this too (hey – there’s an idea – let’s all go to Butlins). Unfortunately the cut and thrust on his philosophy is somewhat obscured by allusions to a lack of permanence in other people and an ill advised stab at discussing game-playing theory akin to Wittgenstein. This may explain his need for a place to hide away, he is well aware that a retreat may give him useful time to really get to the nub of his argument. After all, he missed out the obvious suggestion that what he calls Yesterday could just be a fictional construct put in place to give him a sense of history.

I think in the end, whilst it is interesting to see what McCartney was trying to express vis a vis the standing and power of memory as opposed to our other faculties, Yesterday does not quite cut it as a philosophical tract. Much like Locke, a definite antecedent, he has a number of good ideas but lacks the wherewithal to expound them. A cruel person might say that he would been better singing about Scrambled Eggs. At least you can eat them.

I Hate Music