Paul McCartney and Jane Asher
The danger with being involved with an artist who writes, be in a songwriter, or a writer of any kind, is that all of the contents, the high highs and low lows, the passion, the personal pieces, and especially the turmoil of a break-up have the ever potential of being part of the art. I myself hold things back because of this, keeping some writing tucked away out of the light because so much of my insides, and those of people who have been close to me, are blatantly there in the verbs and adjectives and nouns, in all the word rubble. The thing is, though, it is the personal that pushes the art deeper, and that moves people the most, don’t you think?
You Won’t See Me was written about Paul McCartney’s tumultuous 5-year relationship with actress Jane Asher. A song, it is said, that he wrote one night when she had walked out on him. It is the third song on Rubber Soul, and though credited to Lennon-McCartney, it is definitely a Paul song. It is also a rare musical instance of Paul singing in a lower harmony to Lennon and Harrison’s higher harmonies.
The song is about a crisis in McCartney’s relationship with his then-girlfriend Jane Asher. After the walk out it has been said that Jane was rejecting Paul by not returning phone calls and ignoring him — a vulnerable position that he was not all that familiar with anymore.
The more biting tone of the song marks a change away from his, and the band’s, earlier, happier love songs. You Won’t See Me was recorded during the last session for Rubber Soul on the night of November 11, 1965. The deadline for completing the album was up and the band needed to record three songs that evening to wrap up the album. As a result, they cut the song in only two takes. At 3:22, the song was the longest that The Beatles had recorded to that point and marked a trend by Bob Dylan and others at the time to start writing longer songs.
Mal “Organ” Evans (one of The Beatles’ roadies throughout their career) is credited on the album sleeve as having played Hammond organ on this track, his contribution consisting solely of an A note quietly held throughout the last part of the song.
You Won’t See Me was never a part of The Beatles’ concert repertoire, but McCartney played the song live during his 2005-06 concert tour.
Rolling Stone Magazine ranked You Won’t See Me at # 94 on their The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs list.
You Won’t See Me was never released as a single.
Jane met Paul McCartney when she interviewed The Beatles for the Radio Times in 1963 and they dated through the rest of the 60’s. That was until Jane supposedly caught Paul in bed with another woman in ’68 and subsequently broke off their engagement. Jane has never, even now, commented on her relationship or break up with Paul. I do wonder, though, what she thinks of songs like this one as there is always another side to every story.
What do you think Jane’s refrain would sound like?
My choice for favorite cover version of You Won’t See Me is Bryan Ferry’s 1973 version. Bryan has seemed to prefer Paul and John’s more bitter relationship songs, also covering John Lennon’s Jealous Guy on a later album.