Please Please Me
Originally released in the UK, March 22, 1963
From Me To You/Thank You Girl (UK release: 4/1/63)
She Loves You/I'll Get You (UK release: 8/23/63)
I SAW HER STANDING THERE(Lennon/McCartney)
JOHN 1980: "That's Paul doing his usual job of producing what George Martin used to call a 'potboiler.' I helped with a couple of the lyrics."
PAUL 1988: "I wrote it with John. We sagged off school and wrote it on guitars. I remember I had the lyrics, 'Just seventeen/Never been a beauty queen,' which John... it was one of the first times he ever went, 'What? Must change that!' And it became, 'you know what I mean.'"
PAUL circa-1994: "Sometimes we would just start a song from scratch, but one of us would nearly always have a germ of an idea, a title, or a rough little thing they were thinking about and we'd do it. 'I Saw Her Standing There' was my original. I'd started it and I had the first verse, which therefore gave me the tune, the tempo, and the key. It gave you the subject matter, alot of information, and then you had to fill in. So it was co-written... and we finished it that day.
JOHN 1980: "It was kind of a John song, more than a Paul song... but it was written together."
PAUL 1988: "John and I were a songwriting team, and what songwriting teams did in those days was wrote for everyone. 'Misery' was for Helen Shapiro, and she turned it down. It may not have been that successful for her because it's rather a downbeat song... 'the world is treating me bad, misery.' It was quite pessimistic. And in the end Kenny Lynch did it. Kenny used to come out on tour with us, and he used to sing it. That was one of his minor hits."
PLEASE PLEASE ME(Lennon/McCartney)
JOHN 1963: "Our recording manager (George Martin) thought our arrangement was fussy, so we tried to make it simpler. We were getting tired though, and just couldn't seem to get it right. In the following weeks we went over it again and again. We changed the tempo a little, we altered the words slightly, and we went over the idea of featuring the harmonica just as we'd done on 'Love Me Do.' By the time the session came around we were so happy with the result, we couldn't get it recorded fast enough."
JOHN 1980: "'Please Please Me' is my song completely. It was my attempt at writing a Roy Orbison song, would you believe it? I wrote it in the bedroom in my house at Menlove Avenue, which was my auntie's place. I heard Roy Orbison doing 'Only The Lonely' or something. That's where that came from. And also I was always intrigued by the words of 'Please Lend Your Ears To My Pleas,' a Bing Crosby song. I was always intrigued by the double use of the word 'please.' So it was a combination of Bing Crosby and Roy Orbison."
PAUL 1988: "It's very Roy Orbison when you slow it down. George Martin up-tempo'd it. He thought it was too much of a dirge, and probably too like Orbison. So he cleverly speeded us up... and we put in the little scaled riff at the beginning, which was very catchy."
LOVE ME DO(Lennon/McCartney)
JOHN 1963: "It came to the charts in two days. And everybody thought it was a 'fiddle' because our manager's stores send in these... what is it... record returns. And everybody down south thought, 'Aha! He's just fiddling the charts.' But he wasn't."
JOHN 1972: "Paul wrote the main structure of this when he was sixteen, or even earlier. I think I had something to do with the middle."
RINGO 1976: "The first record, 'Love Me Do,' for me that was more important than anything else. That first piece of plastic. You can't believe how great that was. It was so wonderful. We were on a record!"
JOHN 1980: "'Love Me Do' is Paul's song. He had the song around in Hamburg even, way, way before we were songwriters."
PAUL 1982: "In Hamburg we clicked... At the Cavern we clicked.. but if you want to know when we 'knew' we'd arrived, it was getting in the charts with 'Love Me Do.' That was the one. It gave us somewhere to go."
PAUL 1984: "'Love Me Do' ...the first song we recorded, like, for real. First serious audition. I was very nervous, I remember. John was supposed to sing the lead, but they changed their minds and asked me to sing lead at the last minute, because they wanted John to play harmonica. Until then, we hadn't rehearsed with a harmonica; George Martin started arranging it on the spot. It was very nerve-wracking."
PAUL 1988: "'Love Me Do' was us trying to do the blues. It came out whiter because it always does. We're white, and we were just young Liverpool musicians. We didn't have the finesse to be able to actually sound black. But 'Love Me Do' was probably the first bluesy thing we tried to do."
PAUL circa-1994: "George Martin said, 'Can anyone play a harmonica? It would be rather nice. Couldn't think of some sort of bluesy thing, could you John?' John played a chromatic harmonica... I actually had one too but he'd been clever-- he learned to play it. John expected to be in jail one day and he'd be the guy who played the harmonica. The lyric crossed over the harmonica solo, so I suddenly got thrown the big open line, 'Love me do,' where everything stopped. Until that session John had always done it. I didn't even know how to sing it... I can still hear the nervousness in my voice."
P.S. I LOVE YOU(Lennon/McCartney)
JOHN 1980: "That's Paul's song. He was trying to write a 'Soldier Boy' like the Shirelles. He wrote that in Germany, or when we were going to and from Hamburg. I might have contributed something. I can't remember anything in particular. It was mainly his song."
PAUL circa-1994: "A theme song based on a letter... It was pretty much mine. I don't think John had much of a hand in it. There are certain themes that are easier than others to hang a song on, and a letter is one of them... It's not based in reality, nor did I write it to my girlfriend from Hamburg, which some people think."
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET(Lennon/McCartney)
JOHN 1980: "Well, I can't say I wrote it 'for' George. My mother was always... she was a good comedienne and a singer. Not professional, but she used to get up in pubs and things like that. She had a good voice. She could do Kay Starr. She used to do this little tune when I was one or two years old... she was still living with me then. The tune was from a Disney movie: (sings) 'Do you want to know a secret? Promise not to tell? You are standing by a wishing well.' So, I had this sort of thing in my head, and I wrote it and just gave it to George to sing. I thought it would be a good vehicle for him, because it had only three notes and he wasn't the best singer in the world. He has improved a lot since then; but in those days, his ability was very poor."
PAUL 1984: "A song we really wrote for George to sing. Before he wrote his own stuff, John and I wrote things for him and Ringo to do."
GEORGE 1994: "'Do You Want To Know A Secret' was my song on the album. I didn't like the vocal on it. I didn't know how to sing."
THERE'S A PLACE(Lennon/McCartney)
JOHN 1980: "'There's a Place' was my attempt at a sort of Motown, black thing. It says the usual Lennon things: 'In my mind there's no sorrow...' It's all in your mind."
TWIST AND SHOUT
JOHN 1963: "I always hate singing the song, 'Twist And Shout' when there's a colored artist on the bill with us. It doesn't seem right, you know. I feel sort of embarrassed... It makes me curl up. I always feel they could do the song much better than me."
JOHN 1971: "The more interesting songs to me were the black ones because they were more simple. They sort of said shake-your-arse, or your prick, which was an innovation really. The blacks were singing directly and immediately about their pain, and also about sex, which is why I like it."
JOHN 1976: "The last song nearly killed me. My voice wasn't the same for a long time after-- everytime I swallowed it was like sandpaper. I was always bitterly ashamed of it because I could sing it better than that, but now it doesn't bother me. You can hear I'm just a frantic guy doing his best."
PAUL 1988: "There's a power in John's voice there that certainly hasn't been equaled since. And I know exactly why-- It's because he worked his bollocks off that day. We left 'Twist And Shout' until the very last thing because we knew there was one take."
RINGO 1994: "We started (recording the album) about noon and finished it at midnight, with John being really hoarse by 'Twist And Shout.'"
FROM ME TO YOU(Lennon/McCartney)
PAUL 1964: "'From Me To You.' It could be done as an old Ragtime tune... especially the middle-eight. And so, we're not writing the tunes in any particular idiom. In five years time, we may arrange the tunes differently. (jokingly) But we'll probably write the same old rubbish!!"
JOHN 1980: "We were writing it in a car, I think... and I think the first line was mine. I mean, I know it was mine. (humms melody) And then after that we just took it from there. We were just writing the next single. It was far bluesier than that when we wrote it. The notes, today.. you could rearrange it pretty funky."
PAUL circa-1994: "The thing I liked about 'From Me To You' was it had a very complete middle. It went to a surprising place. The opening chord of the middle section of that song heralded a new batch for me. That was a pivotal song. Our songwriting lifted a little with that song. It was very much co-written."
THANK YOU GIRL(Lennon/McCartney)
JOHN 1980: "'Thank You Girl' was one of our efforts at writing a single that didn't work. So it became a B-side or an album track."
PAUL 1988: "We knew that if we wrote a song called, 'Thank You Girl' that alot of the girls who wrote us fan letters would take it as a genuine thank you. So alot of our songs were directly addressed to the fans."
SHE LOVES YOU(Lennon/McCartney)
JOHN 1963: "We wrote that two days before we recorded it, actually."
PAUL 1963: "John and I wrote it together. We were in a van up in Newcastle somewhere, and we'd just gone over to our hotel. I originally got an idea of doing one of those answering songs, where a couple of us sing about 'she loves you' ...and the other one sort of says the 'yes, yes' bit. You know, 'yeah yeah' answering whoever is saying it. But we decided that was a crummy idea anyway. But we had the idea to write a song called 'She Loves You' then. And we just sat up in the hotel bedroom for a few hours and wrote it, you know."
JOHN 1963: "'Yeah.' That's sort of the main catch phrase from 'She Loves You.' We'd written the song, and then suddenly realized we needed more... so we added 'yeah, yeah, yeah' and it caught on."
JOHN 1964: "We arrange them in the studio normally, you know. We get a basic idea, because you write a song and you get a sound in your head that you think it's gonna sound like. And it usually turns out different, you know. We've given up trying to plan it too much before we go in. None of us can read music. Our A&R man (George Martin) can read music, so sometimes he'll say 'That note's just... it doesn't work, you know. You can't have it.' And we have to go into detail with the piano and everything and work it out and say 'It DOES work. You know, we're singing it. It works.' And sometimes he's right, sometimes he's wrong, you know. (giggling) But it usually all works out in the end."
JOHN 1980: "It was written together (with Paul) and I don't remember how. I remember it was Paul's idea-- instead of singing 'I love you' again, we'd have a third party. The 'Woooo' was taken from the Isley Brothers 'Twist And Shout,' which we stuck into everything."
PAUL 1982: "Occasionally, we'd overrule George Martin, like on 'She Loves You,' we end on a sixth chord, a very jazzy sort of thing. And he said, 'Oh, you can't do that! A sixth chord? It's too jazzy.' We just said, 'No, it's a great hook, we've got to do it.'"
PAUL 1988: "We rehearsed the end bit of 'She Loves You' and took it to George. And he just laughed and said, 'Well, you can't do the end of course... that sixth... it's too like the Andrew Sisters.' We just said, 'Alright, we'll try it without,' and we tried it and it wasn't as good. Then he conceded, 'You're right, I guess.' But we were both very flexible. We would listen to George's ideas too, because he was a producer and a musician, and he obviously knew what he was talking about. There was good to-and-fro. We loved that bit, and we rehearsed it alot. John and I wrote that in a hotel room, on twin beds during an afternoon off-- I mean, God bless their little cotton socks, those boys WORKED! Here I am talking about an afternoon off, and we're sitting there writing! We just loved it so much. It wasn't work."
I'LL GET YOU(Lennon/McCartney)
JOHN 1963: "The B-side of 'She Loves You' was meant to be the A-side."
PAUL 1963: "If we write one song, then we can get going after that and get more ideas. We wrote 'I'll Get You,' which is the B-side, first. And then 'She Loves You' came after that. You know-- We got ideas from that. Then we recorded it."
JOHN 1980: "That was Paul and me trying to write a song... and it didn't work out."
PAUL circa-1994: "It's got an interesting chord in it-- 'It's not easy/ To pre-TEND...' That was nicked from a song called 'All My Trials' which is on an album I had by Joan Baez."
ON SONGWRITING (DURING THE 'PLEASE PLEASE ME' PERIOD)
JOHN 1963: "All the better songs that we have written-- the ones that anybody wants to hear-- those were co-written. Sometimes half the words are written by me and he'll finish them off. We go along a word each, practically."
ON RECORDING THE 'PLEASE PLEASE ME' ALBUM
JOHN 1963: "We sang for twelve hours nonstop. Waiting to hear the LP played back was one of our most worrying experiences. We're perfectionists. If it had come out any old way we'd have wanted to do it all over again. As it happens we're very happy with the result."
JOHN 1976: "That record tried to capture us live, and was the nearest thing to what we might have sounded like to the audiences in Hamburg and Liverpool. You don't get that live atmosphere of the crowd stomping on the beat with you, but it's the nearest you can get to knowing what we sounded like before we became the 'clever' Beatles."
PAUL 1988: "The whole album only took a day... so it was amazingly cheap, no-messing, just a massive effort from us. But we were game. We'd been to Hamburg for Christ's sake, we'd stayed up all night, it was no big deal. We started at ten in the morning and finished at ten at night... it sounded like a working day to us! And at the end of the day you had your album. There's many a person now who would love to be able to say that. Me included."
- Beatles At The Movies- Roy Carr, 1996
- Beatles Book Monthly
- Beatles Recording Sessions- Mark Lewisohn, 1988
- Beatlesongs- William J. Dowlding, 1989
- Billboard Magazine/Harrison, 1999
- David Frost Interview/McCartney
- Final Testament: 'Unedited' Lennon/Playboy Interviews
- Let It Be- movie/sessions dialog
- Many Years From Now- Barry Miles, 1997
- Playboy Magazine/McCartney
- Press conferences and archived audio interviews
- Rolling Stone Magazine/Lennon
- The Beatles- Hunter Davies
- The Beatles In Their Own Words- Barry Miles 1978