ROCK / Riffs: The singer and songwriter Nick Heyward on 'She's Leaving Home' by the Beatles

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The Independent Online
I LOVE this song - everything's complete about it. I have a very strong memory of hearing it for the first time on the radio at home. I was standing near the phone. There was so much Beatles on the radio in 1968 and 1969. The late Sixties was such a fantastic time - England had won the World Cup, there was an optimistic feeling, it was as if everything had suddenly come into colour. And this is a song of its era, just as films such as The Family Way and Up The Junction are.

It's quite class-conscious - there's talk of the girl 'meeting a man from the motor trade', which was considered to be a bit downmarket. It's from a purple period in the Beatles' writing. You get Paul singing 'She' in the chorus, while John Lennon takes the parents' part, and has his usual sarcastic tone when they complain, 'We gave her everything money can buy.' But it's like she's running off from a good home to seek fame and fortune in London. Nowadays, if you leave home like that it's because you've been abused.

It's got a strong narrative feel. 'Wednesday morning . . . as the day begins.' Wednesday, not Monday - it's spot on. It tells how the girl creeps out, 'clutching her handkerchief' - you don't get words like 'clutching' in songs any more - before her parents are up, and how sad they are when they realise.

There's no guitar or drums, just these really dry cellos like in 'Eleanor Rigby', and this lovely pizzicato . . . it might actually be a harp. They really tore the country apart at this time, people were wondering just how many more brilliant songs they could write. And in this one, they capture a time when there was a generation gap, when people did have to sneak out. The Beatles took in everything around them.

'She's Leaving Home' is on the Beatles' 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' (Parlophone CDP 746 442 2)

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