The Beatles’ “I’m Looking Through You” and the “Shattering” Fight That Inspired It

The best songwriters evoke emotions and experiences even if they haven’t lived through it themselves, but in the case of the Beatles’ “I’m Looking Through You,” the song’s meaning hit close to home.

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More specifically, the home of Richard Asher and Margaret Eliot, who invited a young Paul McCartney to live in their attic while he was dating their daughter, Jane Asher. McCartney wrote a number of songs for and about Jane during his time in their London home, including the B-side track to the Beatles’ 1965 album ‘Rubber Soul.’

What Paul McCartney Was Seeing In “I’m Looking Through You”

Shortly after Paul McCartney and Jane Asher began dating in 1963, Asher’s parents invited McCartney to live in their home on London’s Wimpole Street while he forged his up-and-coming musical career. While some songs he wrote in the Ashers’ attic space were decidedly romantic, like “All My Loving” and “We Can Work It Out,” McCartney wrote “I’m Looking Through You” during a lover’s quarrel.

As McCartney would later recall in Hunter Davies’ The Beatles, he and Asher’s fighting got worse around the time she decided to work for a theatre company in Bristol for a few months. “I said, ‘Okay, then leave. I’ll find someone else,'” McCartney remembered. “It was shattering to be without her.” He elaborated on the same experience to Barry Miles in Many Years From Now. “As is one’s wont in relationships, you will from time to time argue or not see eye to eye on things. [“I’m Looking Through You”] I remember particularly as me being disillusioned over her commitment.”

McCartney told Miles he “was seeing through her façade and realizing that it wasn’t quite all that it seemed.” He wrote “I’m Looking Through You” in an attempt to process and alleviate his emotional baggage. I’m looking through you, where did you go? McCartney sang to his girlfriend, who was nearly three hours west of London. I thought I knew you. What did I know?

The Result Of Paul McCartney and Jane Asher’s Tense Relationship

Paul McCartney’s “I’m Looking Through You” paints a rather grim image of a relationship on its last leg. Why, tell me, why did you not treat me right? The singer continues in the bridge. Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight. And indeed, his and Jane Asher’s love not only disappeared overnight. Much to McCartney’s chagrin, it also disappeared on television.

Despite the song’s suggestion that the protagonist (in this case, Paul) didn’t know why his partner seemed to be such a stranger, the writing on the wall was clear for the Beatle and his girlfriend. After Asher caught McCartney in bed with another woman—he later admitted to having multiple romantic affairs even when steadily dating a serious girlfriend—she decided to end things in a way that would hit the rising star where it hurt: on TV. 

Asher appeared on the television show Dee Time in the summer of 1968, announcing that she had planned to end things with her Liverpudlian beau. “I haven’t broken it off, but it’s finished. I know it sounds corny, but we still see each other and love each other, but it hasn’t worked out, Asher admitted (via Gold Radio UK). 

However, Asher’s unexpected comments differed from McCartney’s musical take on their relationship. While the actor and journalist might’ve assumed both parties saw each other clearly, as McCartney said himself, I’m looking through you. You’re not the same.

Photo by Keystone/Getty Images

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