Skip to main content

George Martin enjoyed a front-row view of The Beatles’ success. The producer wasn’t perfect — he regretted not supporting George Harrison enough — but he wrung fantastic performances out of the Fab Four and played a crucial role in making the band successful. Except for when he didn’t. The Beatles amazed Martin with “She’s Leaving Home” even though he hardly worked on the song.

George Martin ‘was amazed’ The Beatles could make a song like ‘She’s Leaving Home’ 

Newspaper headlines fueled Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s lyrics for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Lennon combined stories about a car wreck and calls for public improvements (4,000 potholes in Blackburn) on his portion of “A Day in the Life.” Paul invented a fictional meter-maid based on an article he read about that new profession and changed the English language in the process with “Lovely Rita.”

But neither of those Beatles songs amazed Martin like “She’s Leaving Home” did. McCartney based the tune on the 1967 story of a runaway girl, the 17-year-old Melanie Coe (whom Paul met years earlier, coincidentally). The poignant lyrics, delicate instrumentation, and heart-wrenching chorus made it a standout ballad and a cousin to “Eleanor Rigby.” As he revealed in his memoir All You Need Is Ears, Martin thought highly of the construction and emotion in “She’s Leaving Home:”

“It’s almost like a little opera, and it’s one of the best-constructed songs they ever did. I am amazed that they could do this at their age because they could see the conflict between the young and the old.”

George martin

Paul was only in his mid-20s when he wrote the song. Yet as Martin pointed out, Macca’s lyrics capably, vividly, and heartbreakingly captured the restlessness and dissatisfaction of 1960s youth and the older generation that didn’t understand their viewpoint in a 3:35 pop song. The musical approach was also something of a deviation.

“She’s Leaving Home” was one of the few Beatles songs without any of their traditional instrumentation (guitar, drums, bass, piano). It was also one of the rare Fab Four tunes that Martin hardly worked on. 

An impatient Paul McCartney worked on the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ song without Martin


The 5 Best Beatles Ballads

McCartney took the lead on Magical Mystery Tour in late 1967. He wrangled his Beatles bandmates into the Get Back sessions in early 1969. Sgt. Pepper saw him begin to push to make his creative visions a reality, and that included “She’s Leaving Home.”

Paul always seemed to be able to create a song from thin air. When inspiration struck for “She’s Leaving Home,” he worked on it without Martin.

The orchestral tune required string arrangement, but Martin was busy working on a Cilla Black song and couldn’t break away. So Paul forged ahead without him. He teamed with Mike Leander to write the string arrangement. McCartney later admitted it was unreasonable to expect Martin to pull away from the Black session to work with him.

Paul’s choice to bypass him to work on “She’s Leaving Home” hurt Martin, but the producer’s fingerprints showed up on the song. He slightly altered Leander and McCartney’s arrangement that showed up on Sgt. Pepper. In later years, Martin said he was amazed with how deep The Beatles made  “She’s Leaving Home” considering their age.

For more on the entertainment world and exclusive interviews, subscribe to Showbiz Cheat Sheet’s YouTube channel.