John and I wrote “She’s Leaving Home together.” It was my inspiration. We’d seen a story in the newspaper about a young girl who’d left home and not been found, there were a lot of those at the time, and that was enough to give us a story line. So I started to get the lyrics: she slips out and leaves a note and then the parents wake up ... It was rather poignant. I like it as a song, and when I showed it to John, he added the long sustained notes, and one of the nice things about the structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly. Before that period in our song-writing we would have changed chords but it stays on the C chord. It really holds you. It’s a really nice little trick and I think it worked very well.
While I was showing that to John, he was doing the Greek chorus, the parents’ view: ‘We gave her most of our lives, we gave her everything money could buy.’ I think that may have been in the runaway story, it might have been a quote from the parents. Then there’s the famous little line about a man from the motor trade; people have since said that was Terry Doran, who was a friend who worked in a car showroom, but it was just fiction, like the sea captain in “Yellow Submarine”, they weren’t real people.
—Paul McCartney to Barry Miles in 1997
The Daily Mirror story that inspired “She’s Leaving Home” was about Melanie Coe, then aged 17. “Wild child” Coe snuck out of her parents’ comfortable North London home in February of 1967. She was pregnant and afraid of what her mother might do, but had not run off with the father of her unborn child—or “a man from the motor trade,” for that matter—but rather with a croupier she’d just met. They shacked up for ten days before her parents found her. She returned home and had an abortion.
But here’s the weird part: three years earlier Coe had actually met Paul McCartney when he was the judge of a miming contest that Coe won on Ready, Steady, Go! Coe mimed to Brenda Lee’s “Let’s Jump The Broomstick” and Macca gave her the award. Winning the contest meant Coe would be a dancer on the show for an entire year.