One of the songs Paul McCartney wrote for The Beatles’ Abbey Road was based on a poem from the 1600s. Paul owned the sheet music for another song based on the same poem. Despite this, Paul decided to write his own song using the same words.
According to the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, Paul received some sheet music his stepsister owned. One of the pieces of sheet music was a song based on the poem “Cradle Song” from Thomas Dekker’s play Patient Grissel, which was first published in 1603. “I liked the words so much,” Paul said.
Despite this, Paul couldn’t play the song as written. “I thought it was very restful, a very beautiful lullaby, but I couldn’t read the melody, not being able to read music,” he recalled. “So I just took the words and wrote my own music. I didn’t know at the time it was four hundred years old.”