- John Lennon convinced Paul McCartney to write a French-flavored song for The Beatles.
- The song won a Grammy in favor of a famous Frank Sinatra song.
- Sinatra’s song was a hit in the United States while The Beatles’ was not.
Paul McCartney started writing a Beatles song at parties where some partygoers tried to dress like French people. John Lennon encouraged him to finish the track. Subsequently, Frank Sinatra lost a Grammy to the song.
Paul McCartney started writing a Beatles song while trying to seem French
During a 2018 interview with 60 Minutes, Paul discussed the origin of The Beatles’ “Michelle.” “I had lots of these little things going, a lot of which were unfinished and didn’t have any words, it was just a little thing,” he recalled. “I just knew the chords and knew the melody and everything. And the song ‘Michelle’ … Which was just, really just me at parties … Mainly at art school parties. John went to art school.
“So me and George [Harrison] were like the young kids who were kind of, y’know, crashing the party,” he added. “John would say ‘Come on, alright.’ So we wore roll neck sweaters to try to look very French. And I’d often take the guitar and sit in the corner and [started humming].” Paul hoped girls at these parties would think he was French.
Paul remembered how he finished “Michelle.” “Years later, John did say, ‘Remember that crazy little French thing you had — you should finish that!’” Paul recalled. That’s when Paul added lyrics to “Michelle.”
How The Beatles and Frank Sinatra both won at 1 Grammy ceremony
“Michelle” was nominated for the 1967 Grammy Award for Song of the Year. It was up against Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night,” Richard Kiley’s “The Impossible Dream,” Ray Conniff’s “Somewhere, My Love,” and “Born Free,” a song written by Roger Williams. “Michelle” won the award.
Sinatra didn’t go home empty-handed that night. His album A Man and His Music and The Beatles’ Revolver were nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The former won.
The way the world reacted to The Beatles’ ‘Michelle’ and Frank Sinatra’s ‘Strangers in the Night’
The Beatles did not release “Michelle” as a single in the U.S., so the song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. “Michelle” appeared on The Beatles’ Rubber Soul. Rubber Soul was No. 1 for six of its 70 weeks on the Billboard 200.
Meanwhile, “Strangers in the Night” became a bona fide hit. It peaked at No. 1 for one of its 15 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. The song appeared on the album of the same name. Strangers in the Night became Sinatra’s only No. 1 hit on the Billboard 200, being No. 1 for one of its 73 weeks on the chart.
“Michelle” and “Strangers in the Night” are both classic 1960s ballads — even if only one of them topped the chart in the U.S.
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