How did George Martin improve Please, Please Me?
In his later years, George Martin expressed a robust opinion about the early Lennon and McCartney originals.
The songs the Beatles first gave me were crap.PLEASE PLEASE ME was a John Lennon original and a calculated attempt to emulate the Big O, then a rising star
This was 1962 and they played a dreadful version of 'Please Please Me' as a Roy Orbison-style ballad.
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.
George Martin was not initially impressed. 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.' I was joking but they took me at my word.
At this stage in their songwriting career, Lennon and McCartney were very much apprentices at Abbey Road. What George wanted, George got up. Overnight they made radical changes.
They came back and played it to me sped up and put a harmonica on it.
Impressed by the dramatic improvement, 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'. When we finally finished, I said: 'Gentlemen, you're going to have your first Number OneSources: Interview with George Martin, The Observer Music Monthly, 2006/Paul McCartney Inside the Songs (2021)