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McCartney reveals inspiration for Lady Madonna

This photograph, called Mountain Madonna, of a woman whose way of life was threatened, has been the inspiration for Paul McCartney to write the 1968 Beatles’ hit single Lady Madonna. McCartney saw the photo, of a woman surrounded by three small children, one of them nursing, in a 1965 issue of National Geographic magazine. It ultimately served as the inspiration for the song. McCartney:
I love National Geographic and I've loved it since I was a kid. It's sort of always there, that yellow frame and you know exactly what it is and you know you're gonna get great photos and great stories about the world. (…) One particular issue, I saw in the '60s, had a woman…and she looked very proud and she had a baby ... I saw that as a kind of Madonna thing, mother and child…... You know, sometimes you see pictures of mothers and you go, 'She's a good mother.' You could just tell there's a bond and it just affected me, that photo. So I was inspired to write Lady Madonna, my song, from that photo.

Another inspiration for Lady Madonna was the song Blue Monday, by Fats Domino, who passed away last week, aged 89. The song seems to be one of McCartney’s personal favorites, because he plays it live on regular base since 1976. In the 2005 tv-special Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road McCartney performed an alternative version, calling it “an old lady in new clothes”.

Video: Lady Madonna (2005)

McCartney revealed the inspiration for Lady Madonna in an interview with National Geographic magazine about releasing a new documentary film, One Day a Week, in support of his campaign ‘Meat Free Monday’. Launched by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney in 2009, ‘Meat Free Monday' is a not-for-profit campaign that aims to raise awareness of the detrimental environmental impact of eating meat, and to encourage people to help slow climate change, preserve precious natural resources and improve their health by having at least one meat-free day each week.
The documentary film One Day a Week is slated to be released Friday, November 3rd and will be available on the Meat Free Monday YouTube page.

André Homan

André Homan is a Dutch writer and journalist.

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