Similarities Between the Chord Progressions of Ray Charles' "Georgia On My Mind" and The Beatles' "Yesterday"
"Yesterday" features strikingly similar chord progressions with Ray Charles' 1960 cover of Hoagy Carmichael's “Georgia on My Mind". These similarities, however, are not terribly easy to hear. They are much more easily understood visually, hence the example below (click it to enlarge), which displays "Georgia on top with "Yesterday" on the bottom, each with chords with red lines denoting similarities between the progressions.
Of the 11 different chords used in the verses of “Georgia on My Mind”, all but one corresponds to a comparable – if not identical – chord in the verses from “Yesterday”.
Attempting to prove Paul's awareness of Ray Charles' recording of “Georgia on My Mind” prior to the composition of “Yesterday” would be utterly futile, but it does seem extremely probable that Paul knew of the song because he uses that title phrase in his lyrics to “Back in the USSR”.
I can't recall where, but I seem to remember reading that when the chords and melody of "Yesterday" came to McCartney, he resisted recording it at first…because he was sure it was actually someone else's song. But when he played his song to people, no one came up with anything…so he went on ahead.
9/13/2014 12:54:40 pm
Many years ago we were at the Lodge of the Four Seasons on the Lake of the Ozarks and found ourselves in the lounge where a trio was playing a song in which Georgia On My Mind was sung by one musician and Yesterday by another. Was one of the most beautiful songs/arrangements we've ever heard. Am stunned that I can't remember the group or that I haven't heard a recording of it.
9/13/2014 02:49:43 pm
1/18/2015 11:36:34 am
Harry Nilsson heard the similarity as well: http://youtu.be/hlerlDWsdT0
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This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.