It was the summer of 1964, and the Beatles were everything to rock and roll. Paul McCartney was in a fitful sleep early one morning when a jazz tune his father used to play kept rolling through his dreams. He got up, went to his piano, and tried to hammer it out. There were no lyrics, just a skittish melody.
For a year McCartney worked on this tune, banging it out so often that a record executive grew so sick of hearing it, he threatened to “sell the damn piano!” John Lennon nicknamed the tune, “The Scrambled Egg Song.” Because it was a mess, a muddle of unique chord changes and no words, yes; but also because the song had a definitive three syllable, “Dah, dah, dah,” that “scram – bled – eggs” fit perfectly.
On a long car ride, Paul McCartney explains what happened next: “I knew the syllables had to match the melody, obviously, and I started getting these little one word openings: ‘Scram-bled-eggs – dad-dah-dah.’: Yes-ter-day – sud-den-ly – Oh, that’s good,’ I thought.”
When Paul arrived at his destination he jumped from the car, borrowed a guitar (mercifully not a piano this time), and finished the song in minutes. The other Beatles concluded that this masterpiece only needed a guitar and few strings. Thus, a rare Beatles solo was recorded, and the single was released in the United States 55 years ago this week. Of course, that song was entitled, “Yesterday.”
There’s not be a more doleful recording in all the Beatles’ catalogue, or a more honest song in their massive collection. There may not be a more universally human lament, than when we turn to the past. Yesterday, rather than where our troubles seemed so far away, is often where the trouble began. Yesterday is where the seeds of our regret were planted. Yesterday is where we were sabotaged. Yesterday is that sepia-toned memory book, a place we mourn.
We all have a yesterday, and there is no changing our personal histories. But we can determine the relationship we will have with the past. “What will I do with yesterday?” is the question, and John Lennon may have provided the answer with his “Scrambled Eggs” moniker. See, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette.
It is the exceedingly rare individual who would not go back and change something about the past, for we have all been victimized by people, circumstances, adversity, or our own boneheaded actions. We have all broken a few eggs – even a few dozen eggs.
We can’t un-break them, nor can we really “get over” what has happened in our lives. We can only integrate it; we can only make it a healthy part of who we are. I suppose that the lion’s share of one’s spiritual work is to do exactly this: To make meaning of our painful experiences, and to try to make good omelettes from the scrambled eggs of yesterday.