Album: Rubber Soul (1965)
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  • John Lennon invited McCartney over to college parties when he was still in high school, and French culture was a trend. Paul would try to fit in by sitting in a corner and pretending to be French. He would play little tunes in French, but he only knew a few French words so he would groan or make words up. John told him that he should make it into a real song for Rubber Soul, so he asked his friend Ivan Vaughan, whose wife was a French teacher, for a French name and some words to rhyme with it. Vaughan came up with "Michelle, ma belle." McCartney came up with the next line, "These are words that go together well," and Vaughan taught him the French translation, "Sont des mots qui vont tres bien ensemble," which he used in the song as well. When he played it for Lennon, John suggested the "I love you" part in the middle. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Klasic Rok - Battle Ground, WA
  • This is not based on any particular woman. They chose the name because it sounded good.
  • None of The Beatles spoke French. They picked up some German when they went there in 1962, but no French.
  • This won a Grammy in 1966 for Song of the Year, one of just four Grammys The Beatles won while they were still active.
  • In France, this went to #1.
  • McCartney mailed a check to Ivan Vaughn's wife, Jan, for helping with the French lyrics. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The French verse is often misheard as "Sunday monkey won't play piano song." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Patrick - Tallapoosa, GA
  • Paul McCartney said in Observer Music Monthly October 2007: "We used to go to these art school parties because John was at art school and me and George were at the school next door, which is now a performing arts school. John was that little bit older than us, which at that age is impressive. He was a year-and-a-half older than me and you really look up to people like that. But it's funny because I don't think I had that same feeling with Ringo, who I think was a few months older than John. John was a pretty impressive cat - being a year-and-a-half older and going to art school, all that was a pretty cool combination for us. So we'd tag along to these parties, and it was at the time of people like Juliette Greco, the French bohemian thing. They'd all wear black turtleneck sweaters, it's kind of where we got all that from, and we fancied Juliette like mad. Have you ever seen her? Dark hair, real chanteuse, really happening. So I used to pretend to be French, and I had this song that turned out later to be 'Michelle.' It was just an instrumental, but years later John said: 'You remember that thing you wrote about the French?' I said: 'Yeah.' He said: 'That wasn't a bad song, that. You should do that, y'know.'"
  • The singer-songwriter Michelle Branch was named after this song. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    George - Calumet City, IL
  • Encouraged by the successful foray into French on this song, Beatles ami Donovan sang a verse of his 1968 hit "Jennifer Juniper" in French.
  • When Paul McCartney received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song award at a White House ceremony in 2010, he did something he later said he'd been itching to do for a while: sing "Michelle" to the First Lady. President Obama credited McCartney with helping "to lay the soundtrack for an entire generation." For his part, Sir Paul managed to work in a line hinting at his view of American presidential politics. "After the last eight years, " he joked, "it's great to have a president who knows what a library is." McCartney is the third recipient of the award - Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder are previous honorees - which recognizes songwriters "whose careers reflect a lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of artistic expression and cultural understanding." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

Comments: 79

  • Michele H from Los AngelesMy Dad sang this to me every night when I was little. I would pretend to fall asleep so he’d stop singing, hahaha. I did appreciate the song though, but one serenade per night was enough.
  • AnonymousI am a mother of 9 children, I lost my eldest son in a moterbike accident and then my daughter Michelle took her own life in 1996. It is lovely to hear the Beatles singing Michelle, always brings a tear to my eyes, not sad, just remembering the good times. Liz Dries Australia.
  • Trebor from TexasLook at all of the comments from writers named Michelle or with Michelle in their name. And they mostly seem to be very pleased with "their" song. Nice that such a simple thing in such a nice song can make one so happy.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 16th 1966, Bud Shank's instrumental covered version of the Beatles' "Michelle" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #92; it stayed on the chart for six weeks, peaking at #65 {it was his only Top 100 record}...
    And also in 1966 he provided the alto flute solo on the Mamas & the Papas’ debut record "California Dreamin"; it reached #4 on the Top 100...
    R.I.P. Clifford Everett 'Bud' Shank, Jr. {1926 - 2009}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyForgot to add to my post below; but on the same day that David & Jonathan's "Michelle" entered the Top 100 Billy Vaughn's instrumental version of the song also charted...
    His version reached #77 and stayed on the Top 100 for 6 weeks, it was the last of his 28 records that made the Top 100...
    R.I.P. Mr. Vaughn, born Richard Vaughn, (1919 - 1991).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 2nd 1966, "Michelle" by David and Jonathan entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on ?? it peaked at #18 and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on February 28th, 1966 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart...
    Peaked at #3 on the Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    David & Jonathan, real names Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook, composed the Fortunes #7 hit "You've Got Your Troubles"...
    "Michelle" won the 1967 Grammy Award for 'Song of the Year'; the other songs nominated were "Born Free", "The Impossible Dream", "Somewhere My Love" and "Strangers in the Night".
  • Michael from Peoria, AzMichel is the French masculine version of Michael whereas Michelle is the feminine version, in reference to how it is spelled in the title.
  • Carl from Apg, MdYou mention Brian Wilson and the Rubber Soul LP (which had "Michelle" in both the UK and US versions). He presumably had the US version of Rubber Soul, but discussing it here is beyond the range of the discussion of just "Michelle".
  • Megan from Stevenson, AlI'm going to go out on a limb and say this is my favorite song of The Beatles...but who could choose just one?! Love the bass in this.
  • Michelle from Carlisle, PaI was first going to be named Maria Pia (I'm from a Spanish country) but then one day my dad came up to my mom screaming with a book of names in his hand "Honey look look at this name!" and it was Michelle. Then my mom said "Isn't that also a Beatles song?" and he said "Yes, you're right!" and my dad also loved the Beatles. When I tell people my name they also say "Oh, Michelle? Michelle, ma belle, these are words that go together well, my Michelle!" and I laugh because I LOVE that song. Also in my french class we use french names (this is my second year) and I used the name Céline but then I said that I was tired of that name and that I was going to use my real name. There is a kid in that class with the same name but it is Michele. When my teacher calls someone he says Michelle and we both look up until he makes the difference with "ma belle" or "le beau."
  • George from Belleville, NjIf ever a song sounded so quietly haunting,this is it.This song is sweet and simple and beautiful and complex at the same time because no one else could come up with such a timeless melody the way Lennon and McCartney crafted their songs.No wonder this won song of the year back in 1966.
  • Alyssa from Harford, Pai love the song so much i am going to name my daughter after it
  • Steph from Liverpool, United Kingdomactually this song was written after a particular female who 2 of the beatles met a mother of a young baby girl in the streets of liverpool in 1965 when the very naive mother went on to explain when asked that her daughters name she replied michele and it was the french version with a grav accent over the e to the amusement of the beatle members who had commented on how beautiful the baby girl was, it was a few months later that the song michelle came out and french lyrics included in the song. I dont care what anyone says but this is the true story and the beatles members and whoever deals with royalties are stating that it doesnt relate to anyone in particular in order to save money as witnesses to this event are still living in liverpool and are well and happy knowing the truth without recognition as being the baby and mother responsible for the inspiration of the song.
  • Jack from Ames, IaI read that Doris day burst onto the Tele saying or singing "I love you I love you I love you" and that's how either John or Paul added the bit to the tune one afternoon when Paul excitedly showed up at John's pad with the new idea...
    Great tune in F minor ... what a nice bass part ... fits right in the hand. The note you need is on your shoulder Paul. ;]
  • Michelle from , United StatesWhen I was 13 years old, I entered a Beatle Contest. The first prize was a phone call from the Beatles. All I can really say is that I won that contest with 500 words or less. I did recieve a phone call and They did say they were going to write a song with my name.
  • Deethewriter from Saint Petersburg, Russia FederationPaul McCartney dedicated the 1965 Beatles classic "Michelle" to first lady Michelle Obama during his concert on Friday night (August 1st) at Landover, Maryland's Fed Ex Field, according to maccareport.com. This was the first time that McCartney tackled the Rubber Soul favorite since his 2007 Paris show.
  • Mem from Melbourne, Australiathe rumour around at the time was that paul was secretly singing about michelle phillips of mamas & papas i dont think that was true BUT you never know about them! lol
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Mohahaha, id never heard that story before...that cracks me up, that he'd sit there and pretend to be french to impress girls! lol, i freaking love paul.
  • Nate from A-town, VaIs it just me or does the end of this song remind anyone else of the end of Bungalow Bill?
  • Cor from Rocklands, United KingdomI like the Michelle background choirs by John and George. Although they are simple, I just love singing them. I even can see them singing and enjoying it as well.
  • Mark from Dublin, Irelandmatt monro again does the best cover of this song...what a song...what a voice
  • Faith from Liverpool, --How wonderful that Paul would pretend to be french. Can't you just imagine young Paul sitting in a corner surronded by college kids as he sings random lines in French? Paul is such an amazing guy. i LOVE YOU PAULiE!!
  • Julia from *, OhI just love this song so much, Paul's so romantic! My Aunt Mike (who passed away in October of 2007 at age 55) wasn't my mom's real sister, but her cousin. But she was a true sister to both my mom and my mom's three sisters. They all were (and still are) huge Beatles fans. One of my aunts liked John the best, and another liked George, I'm not sure about the youngest one being a fan, though. But my mom and Aunt Mike loved Paul the most, and my mom was madly in love with him even at her young age of 9 in 1965! My Aunt Mike was 13 at the time, and she used to tell my mom "Paul wrote that song for me!", because her real name is Michelle. My mom was young, and actually used to believe her! So now I think of my aunt, who was one of the nicest people I knew, whenever I hear this lovely song which is one of Paul's best. I'm trying to learn it on guitar, too.
  • Kayla from Nashville, Tni like this song because my middle name is Michelle! also in the remake of Halloween Michael's stepdad calls him "Michelle my bell" as a reference to the song
  • Michelle from Fontana, CaI love this song. My parents were going to name me Lacey after some Dodger. But on the way to the hospital Michelle came on the radio and my mom said that's her name. My grandfather used to play this song for me on the organ and when he passed away 3 1/2 years ago that was the first song I heard on the radio. Now whenever I hear Michelle I feel like he's with me. It's such a beautiful and melodic song. I'm lucky to have been named after a song from one of the greatest bands of all time.
  • Bob from New York City, Nyi think michelle in french means mikal(spelling?) because my freind said her french teacher called this guy name mike michelle
  • Michelle from Brook Park, MnMy dad and his friends even my teachers sing this song to me. I used to hate it when they did that, but it doesn't really bother me no more.
  • Michelle from Provo, UtI can't listen to this song properly. My mother named me "Mi'chelle" (exactly like the song... the french version) and every time it comes on if I don't pay attention and think about it I turn to whoever I'm with and ask them what they want.
  • Caitlin from Upper Township, NjPossibly my favorite Beatles song!
  • Michelle from Benton, ArThis song came out when my father was 11 years old and he told his mother if he ever had a daughter he'd namer her Michelle. My grandmother verifies this and I am proud to be named after this song. Im glad that my Dad shared his love of the Beatles with me and now I am sharing with my kids.
  • Yunasa from South Pasadena, CaIt's: Sons des mot qui vent tres bien ensemble. These are words that go together well.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyWhen asked at the time if he spoke French, Paul replied "Non". Later he said he spoke "Double Dutch French". This was a term Liverpool teenage guys used when they'd speak French-sounding gibberish but throw in the few French words that they knew, to impress girls.
  • Hermione from Los Angeles, CaI read somewhere in a book about Michelle Kwan that she was named after this particular song. It was her fathers favorite song and he named his daughter after it.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyIf a man (or group of men) could do for my name what Paul and John did for "Michelle," I'd follow them, close the door behind me and never come out! The only musician that did so well (or possibly better) with a woman's name is Buddy Holly, with "Peggy Sue."
  • Michelle from Annville, PaMy dad always sang this song to me as a child, so when I got married in 2004, I asked the DJ to ask my father over the microphone if he had any ideal what song I choose for our special dance. My dad didn't have a clue, but as soon as the first note played, my dad immediately knew. We danced to this song this for the father/daughter dance and for one last time, my dad sang it to me while we danced, just like I remember from being a child......What a tear jerker! Thank you dad for the man you were and for the man you are today. I love you!
  • Jessa from Brampton, On, Canadai'm DYING of laughter i'd never heard of the misheard lyric before, that is hilarious. it actually sounds like Sunday monkey won't play piano song
  • Julie Michelle from St. Louis, Mothis is my baby song! (i think my mom made up that whole baby song concept? lol) but i love it and i was gona be named michelle after this song cus my mom loved it so much but it ended up being my middle name cus no one could think of a good middle name to go with michelle so they chose julie michelle!
  • Krista from Elyria, OhMy aunt was named after this song!
  • Joe from Fort Meade, MdThis song wasn't cliche. It invented the cliche.
  • Vickie from Sydney, AustraliaThere are so many Michelles in my generation (born in the late sixties).There were probably a lot in France before this song was written but I'm sure the name exploded in popularity around the world after the song was released.
  • Michelle from Minesota, Mni love that song its a good one
  • Sarah from Usa, IaActually John Lennon wrote the I love you, I love you, I love you music/lyrics as he had been listening to Nina Simone's version of I Put A Spell On You. Paul McCartney had written the opening intro/verse when he asked Lennon "where should he go with it" It is a definite Co-write.
  • Michelle from Wrjct, VtI was named after this song :-)
  • Ryan from Brentwood, CaIm going to name my daughter Michelle after this song : )
  • Kelsi from Rowlett, TxAlexandre- the second most covered Beatles song is "Something".
  • Alexandre Medina from São Paulo, BrazilBy January 8, 1966, a month after the release of the album Rubber Soul, there were twenty cover versions of Michelle recorded in all parts of the world.The song is the second most covered song written by the Beatles
  • Joey R from Boston, MaPaul was soooo not apprieciated as a bass player. He was one of the most revolutionary bass players ever in my opinion.
  • Jerry from Portland, OrAs a quitarist and songwriter, I have to say I really love the chord progression of "Michelle".
    The change from major key to minor and back is sheer genius.
  • Steve from Fenton, MoI liked this song very much for a long time...a great melody. I later tired of it, thinking it was a cliche. Those of us that just enjoy listening to the music but can't play it...and thus can't tell how simple or complex the music is can sometimes assume that a nice melody like Michelle is a simple piece of music. After taking up piano and purchasing the music to the Beatles catalog, I discovered that most of the their music is very sophisticated (including Michelle), there are not many 3 or 4 chord Beatles songs.
  • Michelle from Antigonish, CanadaYes, my name is Michelle, and I smile and giggle ever single time I hear this tune, I very much dought the fact that someone won a contest to get a phone call from the Beatles, but such, whatever makes your tick. Anyway, I like the fact that they didn't make it for any one, therefore every Michelle in the world can claim it their own, like me! GO MICHELLES EVERYWHERE
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnThis was one of the first songs since Dominique by The Singing Nun to use French lyrics.
  • Paul from Houston, CtGreat bass line. Paul was seriously underrated as a bass player, he was one of the best ever during his Beatle period.
  • Lee from Clearwater, FlMichelle. I heard Paul say that he wrote the song in a class in high school. In 1963 the Beatles were on their way to the U. S. Seems like you have stretched the truth a bit.
  • MichelleThe song Michelle. was written for someone. in 1963 I won a beatles contest by writing an essay for 5oo words or less. My prize was a phone call from the Beatles. They told me they would write a song with my name.
  • Michelle from Boca Raton, FlGrowing up, my parents told me that Ringo saw me in a baby carriage and stopped my parents to ask my name. They told him my name was Michelle and he proceeded to write a song based on how lovely I was. I grew up believing their story for a long long time. Needless to say, I was crushed when I found out the truth.

    Being a very shy child, it was nice to think someone thought me very special.

    The song still makes me smile :)
  • Sum Sum from New Delhi, Indiaearlier in school days when we never used to understand the french verse inside the song we made our own english verse..it goes like..."michelle my belle, someday more he wont play the game on some...the game on some"...please appreciate us.
  • Rick from San Juan, United StatesThe British duo David & Jonathan had a top 20 hit with their cover version of "Michelle" in early 1966, released on Capitol records.
  • Rick from San Juan, United StatesI wonder how many parents named their daughters "Michelle" after this beautiful Lennon/McCartney song (my niece is one of them). The total number would probably be the highest among song-derived names.
  • Barry from New York, NcThis is another McCartney compostion where Lennon claims some credit to the lyrics. However, the actual lyrics penned by Lennon are in question.
  • Jon from Danville, CaI first thought that at the end of the chorous he said "plays piano on some"... no hoablo frances!
  • Mandy from Calgary, CanadaBilly, from Boston Area. I would just like to say that Guns and Roses will never have better acoustics than the Beatles. This song is beautifully put together- every single part of it is haungtingly beatiful and it takes a real artist to make this work of art.
    i.e. The Beatles.
  • Scott from Chicago, IlTHis is the most hauntingly beautiful beatles song ever made...so perfectly short and succinct,
    like a shakeaspeares's sonnet.....brings the
    sweet ballads beginning with "if I fell" to a
    conclusion......after this they lost their innocence....this is why some people prefer the
    early beatles......they lost this pure balladry after the 1000 acid trips from revolver on....
  • Matt Ford from Buffalo, MnWhat's the connection between the Beatles version and the Overlander's version? They must have been released around the same time.
  • Dwight from Calgary, CanadaVery cool bass line if you turn the bass up. Very sweet.
  • Michelle from Boca Raton, FlMy parents told me this song was written for me. Needless to say, when I found out the truth I was very disappointed. I still love it though :)
  • Peter from Bratislava, Europe"I love you, I love you, I love you " - in this part, beatles were inspired by Nina Simone (her most famous hit is probably 'my baby just cares for me').
  • Britt from Foutain Valley, Cathis song is very soothing i love it
  • Piti from El Ferrol, SpainI have heard to comment that Bob Dylan said something as "Michelle is the worst song ever written". Of course, it means a true jealous Zimmerman sense.
  • Alex from New Orleans, LaYes, the lyrics do sound like "Someday monkey won't play piano song". But they do make interesting interpretations.
  • Liliana from Huntley, Ilhola maria! me da gusto ver a otra latina aqui!
  • Ashlee from Jacksonville, FlSont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble means "Are the words which go very well together"
  • Charles from Charlotte, NcWas never released as a single due to Lennon quashing the idea (he may have resented the recent success of 'Yesterday').
  • Randy from Beaumont, TxAccording to Marc Lewison (the Beatles' Biographer) Paul sung it in French because he thought the sexiness of the language would help get him women. As if he needed any help!!
  • MarÃ?a from Buenos Aires, ArgentinaAguante los Beatles!Tengo todos los discos y cds..aguante!
    bye bye!
  • Marvin from East Brady, PaI found the interview I origninally read. McCartney discovered the style on his own but was blown away when he heard the elaborate usage on Pet Sounds.
  • Marvin from East Brady, PaBrian Wilson of the Beach Boys was inspired to write Pet Sounds because of Rubber Soul. However, McCartney did pick up the bassline structure he used on this song(and quite often for the rest of The Beatles career together) listening to someone else. It's not much, he just plays off-notes, fifths and thirds, to add tension to the mood of the song. Possibly it was from the Beach Boys but I can't remember. I'll look it up.

    P.S. This is something the Beach Boys used all over the Pet Sounds album. They also used several unusual chords mixed w/ such basslines to create the tension that defines the mood of the album.
  • Jerry from Atlanta, GaThanks, Susan!
  • Carolyn from P'ville, CaYES thank you for translating!
  • Susan from Huntington Beach, CaMichelle, ma belle (Michelle, my beautiful one)
    These are words that go together well, My Michelle.
    Michelle, ma belle, sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble (these are words that go together [very] well - just like they say!)
    I love you, I love you, I love you, that's all I want to say,
    Until I find a way,
    I will say the only words I know that you understand.

    I need to I need to I need to,
    I need to make you see,
    Oh what you mean to me,
    Until I do I'm hoping you will know what I mean.
    I love you...

    Hope that helps!
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