Paul McCartney Recalls Struggling to Find a Good First Line for a Classic Beatles Song

I Saw Her Standing There” is one of The Beatles’ classic early songs, and features relatively simple lyrics about a guy who is immediately smitten by a young woman he meets at a dance club. In an interview clip posted on Paul McCartney’s social media sites, McCartney explained that he and Beatles bandmate John Lennon struggled a bit to come with a good first line for the tune.

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“[T]he first line, it [originally] was, ‘She was just 17, she’d never been a beauty queen,’” McCartney revealed. “And we kind of [thought], ‘Ooh, no.’ We couldn’t get past that line, you know. I had a lot of the other [parts]. That line stuck out as a stinker, so it was like, ‘No, we can’t do that.’ So, we just stuck with it, and we came up with, ‘She was just 17, you know what I mean.’”

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McCartney, who was being interviewed by British comedian and television presenter Bob Mortimer, then recalled a funny bit that Jerry Seinfeld once did as part of his stand-up act that referred to the song’s lyrics.

“[H]e said, ‘…Paul, you wrote, “She was just 17, you know what I mean.” Well, I’m not sure we do know what you mean, Paul,’” McCartney recounted with a laugh.

The video clip was from an event McCartney did to promote his award-winning 2021 book The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, which featured him in conversation with British comedian and television presenter Bob Mortimer.

Later in the clip, Mortimer brought up another popular Beatles song, “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” and pointed out that the lyrics feature a dark twist. The song tells the story of a guy who goes home with a woman and ends up sleeping in her bathtub after the date doesn’t go the way he’d hoped. When the woman leaves him in the morning to go to work, he sets fire to her apartment, which was furnished in Norwegian wood.

McCartney explained what he and Lennon thought was humorous about the tale.

“I mean, we’re just a couple of lads, you know, together, and Norwegian wood was a very popular furnishing thing,” he noted. “And it was just [a] funny idea that it was Norwegian. It wasn’t just pine, it was Norwegian wood, you know. So we always thought that was funny.”

A paperback version of The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present was released earlier this month, and the book is also serving as the basis for the current podcast series McCartney: A Life in Lyrics, which can be heard now at,, and on various popular streaming services.

Meanwhile, McCartney is preparing to launch the final dates of his 2023 Got Back Tour, a series of eight concerts in Brazil running from November 30 to December 16. Check out all the dates at

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