The Beatles FAQ

Fun stuff about the Fab Four. Linked to The Beatles Teaching Pack



Thursday, 10 March 2016

How did George Martin improve Please, Please Me?

Recording session 1962
The songs the Beatles first gave me were crap.
This was 1962 and they played a dreadful version of 'Please Please Me' as a Roy Orbison-style ballad.  George Martin
George Martin was initially unconvinced by the first songs Lennon & McCartney presented to him consistently write hit songs. He gave  PLEASE PLEASE ME a resounding thumbs down:
I listened to it and I said: 'Do you know that's too boring for words? It's a dirge. At twice the speed it might sound reasonable.' They took me at my word. I was joking and they came back and played it to me sped up and put a harmonica on it.
Impressed by the dramatic improvement, George Martin agreed to give the song a second chance. He was not to regret his decision:
 We worked for ages on their new version of 'Please Please Me', and I said: 'Gentlemen, you're going to have your first #1.
Source: Interview with George Martin, The Observer Music Monthly, 2006

Fun Facts: Hymns, Roy Orbison, Bing Crosby
  • Music historian Johan Cavalli has noted how the ascending melody line "Come on, come on..." resembles sections  of two traditional folk songs: "New's Evens Song" and "Come Fair One."
  • John Lennon had sung in a church choir as a boy. This influence can be detected in his fondness for legato or long notes in his songs.
  •  "I remember the day I wrote it, I heard Roy Orbison doing "Only The Lonely", or something. And I was also always intrigued by the words to a Bing Crosby song that went, 'Please lend a little ear to my pleas'. The double use of the word 'please'. So it was a combination of Roy Orbison and Bing Crosby."
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