Version Tracker: All our “Yesterday”s, from The Beatles to Jimmy Fallon

Version Tracker examines how different artists have performed the same song over the years, adapting it to suit their own needs and times.

During the heyday of VH1’s Behind The Music, most of the episodes about mega-popular arena-rock acts had the same arc: years of obscurity, followed by a change of style and/or personnel, then multi-platinum success, before internal dissension over the ultimate direction of the band, typically necessitated by a hit ballad perceived as “too wimpy.” For Styx that song was “Babe.” For Journey, “Open Arms.” And if The Beatles had been born in the 1970s instead of a decade earlier, they may well have fractured over “Yesterday.”

Even in the mid-1960s, The Beatles sat on “Yesterday” for nearly a year. After Paul McCartney literally dreamed up the melody, he spent months tinkering with the arrangement and lyrics, while dealing with the growing consternation of bandmates who …

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