Skip to main content

Paul McCartney won’t rule out that he was craving a “comfortable feeling” when he wrote The Beatles‘ “Golden Slumbers.” He retreated to the calming safety of his father’s home in Liverpool during a tense time for him and the band.

Paul McCartney after getting married to his wife Linda in 1969.
Paul McCartney who wrote The Beatles’ ‘Golden Slumbers’ | John Rodgers/Redferns

Paul McCartney ‘sampled’ an old Victorian song based on an Elizabethan poem on The Beatles’ ‘Golden Slumbers’

In The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, Paul wrote that before it became a Beatles song, “Golden Slumbers” was first known as an old Victorian song. The original was based on an Elizabethan poem by the dramatist Thomas Dekker.

Paul found the words on a piece of piano sheet music when he was in Liverpool visiting his father, Jim. “Even then, I always looked inside the piano seat because a lot of people have their sheet music in there,” Paul wrote.

“Golden Slumbers” was written before records became available. Paul imagines “a Victorian parlour with the pretty young girl standing up to sing as the handsome young man accompanies her. Or sometimes it was the other way round.” Back then, people only heard new songs through sheet music.

That hadn’t changed much by Paul’s childhood. When Paul was young, his family and many others used the household piano to bond with each other and share songs they knew from sheet music.

Paul saw the lyrics of the original “Golden Slumbers” and came up with a song to go with them. “It’s what we might generously call sampling, or possibly stealing,” Paul wrote. “But because I don’t read music, I didn’t know what the melody was, so I put my own to it.”

Paul McCartney said he was craving a ‘comfortable feeling’ while writing The Beatles’ ‘Golden Slumbers’

In 1969, The Beatles were breaking up. To escape the tense meetings and fighting, Paul went home to Liverpool to visit his father. Finding the sheet music to “Golden Slumbers” in the piano seat seemed like fate. The nursery rhyme lyrics talking about going homeward comforted Paul.

“It’s very possible that I’d been feeling down in London,” Paul explained. “I was back in the solace of family and Liverpool, and what with the Beatles troubles down south, I was likely thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to get home and have that comfortable feeling again?’ So, there may have been some of that in the background. I wouldn’t rule it out.”

When Paul wrote The Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers,” he hadn’t returned to Liverpool in a long time. His father lived in a home in Heswall, not the home he’d grown up in, but it was still “homeward.”

Paul wrote, “So l added, ‘Once there was a way to get back homeward / Once there was a way to get back home.’ The song turned out to be quite soulful, and I think that’s what attracted me to those lyrics in the first place – that notion of consoling a baby or reading kids a bedtime story.

“‘Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry / And I will sing a lullaby’. Those are lines – or something with a similar sentiment – that most parents probably say to their children to soothe them when they’re growing up.”

At that time, Paul needed soothing in a comfortable place.


Paul McCartney Made The Beatles’ ‘Get Back’ ‘Wistful’ Because He Wanted the Band to Return to Their Roots Instead of Splitting

He likes the version of the song that appears in ‘Sing’

Paul enjoys the version of The Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” that appears in the film Sing. He loves when his songs have “touched a nerve” and “pop up with someone else singing it.”

“Golden Slumbers” plays at the beginning of Sing, and Paul thinks “it’s very powerful.” Then, the song comes again at the end, and comes full circle.

Paul explained that people often ask him if he minds if other artists cover his songs or whether he’s ever worried that the original meaning will be distorted. Paul said “far from it.” He loves hearing other interpretations of his songs.

He said, “It’s a compliment that someone thought enough of the song to want to cover it. What’s great is that the next generation, if they’re watching a kids’ animated film, now know ‘Golden Slumbers.'”

Paul was comforted by the original lyrics of “Golden Slumbers,” and so will future generations.