Billy Joel Said Frank Sinatra’s ‘Yesterday’ Helped Some Listeners Take The Beatles ‘Seriously’


  • Frank Sinatra covered The Beatles’ “Yesterday.”
  • Billy Joel noted Sinatra covered the song even though he was not a big fan of a lot of popular music.
  • Sinatra’s “Yesterday” appeared on a hit album.
The Beatles' Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and George Harrison playing instruments during the "Yesterday" era
The Beatles’ Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison | Bettmann / Contributor

The Beatles‘ “Yesterday” is one of the most widely covered songs in the classic rock canon. Billy Joel said Frank Sinatra’s version of the song changed the public perception of the Fab Four. In addition, Joel discussed how “Yesterday” compared to other songs written by Paul McCartney.

Billy Joel preferred 1 song Paul McCartney wrote for The Beatles above all the rest

During a 2022 interview with Stereogum, Joel revealed his favorite song Paul ever wrote is “Yesterday.” “I had heard other people doing sad songs, The Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison,” he recalled. “But The Beatles were a band.”

Joel compared “Yesterday” to classical music. “To hear, all the sudden, one solo voice and one solo guitar with a plaintive melody — almost baroque type of music, not like Bach, but like Scarlatti,” Joel said. “Very simple, very profound. It just cut through everything else.”

Joel said “Yesterday” impacted him because he was at a certain stage of his life. “I suppose I was at an emotional age,” he opined. “When you’re in your mid-teens, everything hits you heavier. The ’60s were an interesting time. They were a coming-of-age time for most baby boomers.”

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Billy Joel felt some people must’ve thought The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday’ was great because Frank Sinatra covered it

Joel said “Yesterday” impacted a whole generation. “I imagine most people in my age group remember that song distinctly,” he said. “Even Sinatra covered it. He wasn’t a big fan of a lot of pop music.

“The fact he did that was very significant to some people who didn’t take The Beatles seriously,” Joel added. “Like, ‘Wait a minute, this must be a pretty damn great song if Frank is doing it.'”

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How ‘Yesterday’ and Frank Sinatra’s cover performed on the charts in the United States

The Beatles’ “Yesterday” became a massive hit. For four weeks, it topped the Billboard Hot 100. It stayed on the chart for 11 weeks in total. The Beatles released “Yesterday” on the American edition of the Help! soundtrack. The soundtrack was No. 1 for nine of its 46 weeks on the Billboard 200.

Sinatra’s cover of “Yesterday” was never a single, so it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The track appeared on Sinatra’s album My Way. The album reached No. 11 on the Billboard 200, remaining on the chart for 19 weeks.

Sinatra’s “Yesterday” was not a hit but Joel thinks it impacted the public perception of The Beatles.

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