Women have long inspired musicians to create famous songs for many reasons – love songs, lust songs, breakup songs, makeup songs, get even songs – and these muses are rarely identified, they may be girlfriends, wives, rivals, exes, groupies, celebrities or even complete strangers, but they are not abstract people, they really existed, and for a moment they were the catalyst for the creation of a famous piece of music. And there it is, for all the world to hear about, a famous person’s love, or lust, or loathing for someone else being played publicly and climbing the charts, and if this girl wasn’t famous beforehand- then she is now.Sometimes the song is founded on a truly romantic relationship, while at other times it may be nothing more than a brief flirtation, a chance meeting, a newspaper headline, or even encountering a parking inspector. It may also be based on fantasy or an imagined state of existence about someone the writer admired, but the relationship was never realised, some artists were brave enough to title the name of the song after their muse, others were more subtle, or less inclined to reveal the identity of their inspiration, lest it create disharmony in their lives or the lives of others, some did reveal the name, but later regretted doing so.This week 4TR returns to one of our favorite themes, The Girl In The Song, a popular blog where we featured Parts 1-4 earlier this year on April 21-30, in which we revealed the women who inspired thirty-five memorable musical moments. Over the next two weeks we will again revisit famous songs from the past and explore the fascinating backstories that will answer that question “Who Was the Girl in the Song?”, I hope your enjoy the journey.
Graeme Davy – 4TheRecord
The Beatles – All My Loving (1963), And I Love Her So (1964), I’m Looking Through You (1965), We Can Work It Out (1965), You Won’t See Me (1965 ), Here There And Everywhere (1966)
Jane Asher met Paul McCartney (above) on April 18 1963, prior to a performance by the Beatles at the Royal Albert Hall (London), she was seventeen and had been sent by the Radio Times to cover the concert, which was broadcast live as part of the BBC programme Swinging Sound. At a photo session after the concert she chatted with the Fab Four and fancied George, but Paul was determined to prevail, and he did. Jane was the daughter of Dr. Richard Asher and Professor Margaret Asher, she lived in the family home at Wimpole St. in central London and was a student at the exclusive Queen’s College. Jane had begun her acting career at the age of five with a role in the 1952 film Mandy, subsequently she appeared in minor roles in several notable films including The Quartermass Xperiment (’55), The Greengage Summer (’61), and The Prince and the Pauper (’62) , before she met McCartney. Asher was a refined, finely -featured, Titian-haired, virginal, beauty, a combination that the young Scouser McCartney found impossible to resist, and when they were photographed leaving the Prince of Wales theatre after watching Neil Simon’s play Never Too Late, they became one of the most famous celebrity couples in the world.
The pair became inseparable, Paul would take up residence in the attic at the Asher’s home, and be inspired to write songs about his true love, All My Loving was lifted off the album With The Beatles, and was an early declaration of Paul’s devotion to Jane “ Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you/ Tomorrow I’ll miss you/ Remember I’ll always be true…” followed by the poignant ballad And I Love Her So, which featured on the Hard Day’s Night album “ And I love you so/ The people ask me how/ How I’ve lived till now/ I tell them I don’t know … .”
Jane Asher’s brother Peter was a direct beneficiary of his sister’s relationship with Paul as he was half of the duo Peter and Gordon, who were gifted two hit songs by the Beatles in 1964, A World Without Love, and Nobody I Know. (Peter Asher below right)But there was trouble brewing in paradise, Paul was a needy and demanding partner who required the undivided attention of Jane, her acting career was not a priority for him, but she was an independent, free-spirited woman, with a promising career in film, who saw no great virtue in just being “the wife of a Beatle”. Paul’s only previous brush with matrimony had been his engagement to Liverpool lass Dot Rhone (below with Paul), a shop assistant who idolised Paul, but Macca has denied that he was inspired to write P.S. I Love You for her, while he was away performing in Hamburg. Dot became pregnant to Paul and the pair were engaged, but she miscarried in 1962, and Paul quickly cooled off on the idea of marriage, and young Dot.The Rubber Soul album would dramatically chart the changing trajectory of their relationship, I’m Looking Through You shows a growing disenchantment and bitterness by Paul “You’re thinking of me the same old way/ You were above me but not today/ The only difference is your down there/ I’m looking through you and you’re nowhere…” and also contained the veiled threat “Why tell me why did you not treat me right?/ Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight.”
Despite the song’s title, We Can Work It Out, it was hardly an olive branch being offered to Jane by Paul, “Try to see it my way/ Do I have to keep on talking ‘til I can’t go on/ While you see it your way/ Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone…”. The trilogy of angsty, bitter, and recriminatory songs was completed by You Won’t See Me, which depicted McCartney as a jealous boyfriend who was desperate to resolve the growing estrangement between the two, Jane had accepted a part in an Old Vic stage production, and McCartney was incensed, a heated argument ensued, and Asher refused to return Paul’s calls, a scenario which prompted McCartney to write the song You Won’t See Me “ When I call you up, your line’s engaged/ I have had enough, so act your age/ We have lost the time that was so hard to find/ And I will lose my mind/ If you won’t see me, you won’t see me…”
By the time the Beatles recorded the album Revolver, Paul and Jane’s relationship had stabilised to some extent, Paul was apparently more accommodating of Asher’s career ambitions, she appeared in the 1966 Brit classic Alfie, but there was increasing infidelity on Paul’s part with the band touring constantly.The standout track on Revolver was Here There and Everywhere, which had been musically inspired by the Beach Boys song God Only Knows, and was a tender love ballad which seemed to reconfirm Paul’s love for Jane “ I want her everywhere/ And if she’s beside me I know I need never care/ But to love her is to need her everywhere/ Knowing that love is to share…”
On Christmas Day 1967 the couple announced their engagement, and in February of the following year Asher accompanied the group to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram at Rishikesh by the foothills of the Himalayas, to learn of Transcendental Meditation, soak up the cosmic vibrations and feel the serenity.
But the couple’s relationship was anything but serene, Paul had commenced an affair with American scriptwriter Francie Schwartz (below), Jane arrived unexpectedly at Paul’s Cavendish Ave. home to find him in bed with Schwartz, she walked out and sent her mother to collect her belongings, signalling the end to the relationship.Asher met the political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe in 1971 (together below left), and they were married in 1981 and have three children, Asher continued to enjoy a notable acting career in the films Voyage Round My Father, The Butterfly Chain, and Henry V111 And His Six Wives, as well as success as a published author. Paul married Linda Eastman in 1969 (together below right) and they had three children, Linda sadly passed away in 1998, a marriage to Heather Mills in 2002 produced one child and ended acrimoniously in divorce in 2008, Paul has been married to American businesswoman Nancy Shevell since 2011.
Lucy O’Donnell (above) was just four years old when her nursery school classmate painted a picture of her, surrounded it with stars and shapes, and took it home to show his parents John and Cynthia. ”It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds,” Julian Lennon told his father, so providing the official inspiration for one of the Beatles epic Sgt. Pepper’s songs. Lucy and Julian were at Heath House nursery school in Weybridge, Surrey, Lucy remembered Julian as “ the bravest boy in school, who would jump into a freezing swimming pool”, he was also often delivered to Heath House in a chauffeur-driven psychedelic Rolls Royce.( John and Julian photo below)Julian’s painting was the creative spark around which Lennon wove a psychedelic tale of a girl with kaleidoscope eyes under tangerine trees and marmalade skies – the critics were quick to link the song title with LSD, and the trippy lyrics with a Beatle composing under the influence of hallucinogens – but Lennon consistently rejected these assertions. The combination of McCartney’s Lowery organ, with Harrison’s mandoline-like tambura drone and lead guitar, recreated the dreamy soundscape of a psychedelic experience. Lucy O’Donnell married in 1996 and worked with special-needs children, she was unable to have children of her own, and contracted the autoimmune disease lupus in her thirties, and sadly passed away in 2009.
“A-Level Girl Dumps Car And Vanishes,” screamed a headline in the February 27th, 1967, issue of London’s Daily Mail. A pretty, blonde 17-year-old named Melanie Coe stared out from the adjacent photograph, taken not long before she went missing from her family’s home in Stamford Hill, England. The report portrayed her as a “the schoolgirl who seemed to have everything,” including her own Austin 1100 car and a “wardrobe full of clothes,” both of which were left behind. “I cannot imagine why she should run away,” her father told reporters. “She has everything money can buy … even her own fur coat.”The story of a well-heeled suburban London teenager on the run was unusual enough to attract the attention of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, with whom the story had resonated, McCartney recalled in the 1997 biography, Many Years From Now. “There were a lot of those at the time, and that was enough to give us a story line. So I started to get the lyrics – she slips out and leaves a note and then the parents wake up – It was rather poignant.” Lennon’s contributions were more personal, borrowing scornful lines from his stern Aunt Mimi, who had raised him as a child. “Paul had the basic theme, but all those lines like, ‘We sacrificed most of our lives, we gave her everything money could buy, never a thought for ourselves …’ those were the things Mimi used to say, … it was easy to write.”
Coincidentally the Beatles had met Melanie Coe several years before when she was fourteen and a contestant in a lip-synching contest on October 4th.1963, on the ITV pop show Ready Steady Go. Paul judged the contest, four girls lip-synching and dancing to Brenda Lee’s Jump The Broomstick and chose Coe as the winner. Her prize was to appear as a dancer on the show for a year, which encouraged her to dream of a career in theatre, of which her parents disapproved. Melanie may have been the spoiled daughter of overwheening parents, who substituted material possessions for true parental love and affection, but their only daughter became a famous runaway, who left home, with a croupier, not a man from the motor trade, as Paul had written. She’s Leaving Home was the first track on Sgt. Pepper’s that eschewed the use of guitar and drums and substituted violins and a harp, and it is regularly voted into the top five Beatle songs ever written.
The story of Paul McCartney trying to charm his way out of a parking fine on the Sgt. Pepper’s album track, Lovely Rita, has intrigued listeners for many years, but was there really a parking fine, was there a meter maid, and was her name Rita ? The answers to these questions are – yes, kinda, and no. Beatle Paul had taken up residence in St.John’s Wood, close to the Abbey Road studios (see below), and emerged to find the local parking inspector, Meta Davies (above), issuing him with a ten shilling parking fine for an expired meter.Paul looked at the infringement notice and said to Davies “Oh, is your name really Meta?” They then chatted for a while, and when departing Paul said “That would be a good name for a song. Would you mind if I use it?” The term meter maid was American, and it appealed to Paul, but the term “traffic warden’ was the more common usage in the UK, also meter maids were generally employed by local councils not to fine motorists, but to top up expired meters with some change, as part of a goodwill tourist promotion policy. The Beatles never released Lovely Rita as a single, Paul felt that Rita sounded better than Meta and he was pleased to have turned a negative experience into one that people found playful, amusing and slightly sexy, the record on which it featured, became one of the most famous albums in history, and at last count had sold in excess of 20 million copies.