"Michelle" is a Grammy Award–winning love ballad by the Beatles, mainly written by Paul McCartney, which is featured on their Rubber Soul album. The song departs from most of the Beatles' other recordings in that some of the lyrics are in French (like "Sun King", which is partly in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese).
McCartney decided to remain with the French feel of his song and asked Jan Vaughan, a French teacher and the wife of his old friend Ivan Vaughan, to come up with a French name and a phrase that rhymed with it. "It was because I'd always thought that the song sounded French that I stuck with it. I can't speak French properly so that's why I needed help in sorting out the actual words", McCartney said.
Vaughan came up with "Michelle, ma belle", and a few days later McCartney asked for a translation of "these are words that go together well" — sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble. When McCartney played the song for Lennon, Lennon suggested the "I love you" bridge. Lennon was inspired by a song he heard the previous evening, Nina Simone's recording of "I Put a Spell on You", which used the same phrase but with the emphasis on the last word, "I love you".
Although this is one of the most famous McCartney compositions, many other individuals contributed to the song other than Vaughan and Lennon. Beatles producer George Martin has said he has written the lead guitar melody, which is played twice — in the middle, and at the end of the song, in the coda.
"Michelle" was also covered by David and Jonathan, who scored a Top 20 hit on both sides of the Atlantic with it in 1966.
The song has also been covered by Ben Harper in a reggae style and by the Four Tops. In 1995 Thomas Anders (of Modern Talking fame) recorded a soul / r'n'b version for his solo album Souled. The Punkles did a Punk cover of this song on their second album "Punk!". Jason Castro sang the song on American Idol Season 7.
Tommy Emmanuel has an instrumental acoustic guitar version of this song.
Booker T. & the MGs also recorded a jazz version.
The "Michelle, ma belle..." chorus is sung in "The Show", a 1985 rap song by Slick Rick.
The song is parodied on the Radio/TV morning talk show Mike and Mike in the Morning whenever Mel Kuiper comes on to talk to them. ("He's Mel, He's swell)