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"Your Mother Should Know" is titled after a line in the 1961 film A Taste of Honey, its lyrical premise centers on the history of hit songs across generations. McCartney said he wrote it as a plea for generational understanding and respect for a mother's life experience. In the Magical Mystery Tour television film, the song serves as a big production number in the style of a 1930s Hollywood musical. Some commentators view the sequence as cultural satire, as the Beatles are seen dancing and dressed in white evening tails.
"Your Mother Should Know" is in the music hall style, further to McCartney's earlier composition "When I'm Sixty-Four". He first offered it as the Beatles' contribution to the Our World satellite broadcast in June 1967, but the band favoured John Lennon's "All You Need Is Love" for its social significance. The initial sessions for the song took place at Chappell Recording Studios in London towards the end of August. The group were visited there by their manager, Brian Epstein, a visit that marked the last time he joined them in the studio before his death on 27 August.
Paul McCartney began writing "Your Mother Should Know" on a harmonium at his house in St John's Wood, London. He wrote it in the company of his Aunty Jin and Uncle Harry, and drew from his father's love of music hall. The conversation he had with his family members that day inspired the subject matter of the song. Its lyrical premise centers on the history of hit songs across generations. McCartney took the title from a line in the 1961 film A Taste of Honey, which tells of a white teenage girl who falls pregnant with a black man's child and withholds the pregnancy from her domineering mother.
Discussing "Your Mother Should Know" in his 1997 authorized biography, Many Years from Now, McCartney said he sought to address the issue of generation barriers. He lamented how an argument between a mother and her child could have enduring consequences for their relationship, and added: "So I was advocating peace between the generations ... I was basically trying to say, your mother might know more than you think she does. Give her credit."
McCartney said he envisaged the song as a "production number" while planning the Beatles' 1967 television film Magical Mystery Tour. After the band finished recording the film's title song in May that year, the project lay dormant since John Lennon and George Harrison had little enthusiasm for it. McCartney first offered "Your Mother Should Know" as the Beatles' contribution to the Our World satellite broadcast in June, but the band favoured Lennon's "All You Need Is Love" for its social significance.