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Please Please Me

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“Please Please Me”
“Please Please Me” cover
"Please Please Me" 45
(1963 UK issue)
Single by The Beatles
from the album Please Please Me
B-side "Ask Me Why"
Released 11 January 1963
Format Gramophone record
Recorded 26 November 1962
Genre Rock
Length 2:03
Label Parlophone
Writer(s) McCartney/Lennon
Producer George Martin
The Beatles singles chronology
"Love Me Do""
"Please Please Me"
"From Me to You"
'Please Please Me' is my song totally. 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 remember the day and the pink eyelet on the bed and 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 [sings] '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.

—John Lennon, The Playboy Interviews, p.143, 1980

We almost abandoned it as the B-side of 'Love Me Do'. We changed our minds only because we were so tired the night we did 'Love Me Do'. We'd been going over it a few times and when we came to the question of the flipside, we intended using 'Please Please Me'. Our recording manager, George Martin, thought our arrangement was fussy, so we tried to make it simpler. We were getting very tired, though, and we just couldn't seem to get it right. We are conscientious about our work and we don't like to rush things. Eventually George Martin suggested we do another song and leave 'Please Please Me' for some other time, asking if we can tidy it up a bit, and we're glad we did. In the following weeks, we went over and over it again and again. We changed the tempo a little bit, we altered the words slightly and we went over the idea of featuring the harmonica, just like we did on 'Love Me Do'. By the time the session came round, we were so happy with the result, we couldn't get it recorded fast enough.

—John Lennon, in 1963, The Beatles Anthology, p.90, 2000

We wrote 'Please Please Me', but that hasn't exhausted our supply of compositions. We've still got nearly 800 up our sleeves, and we're working all the time. I suppose writing is the wrong word really. John and I just hammer out a number on our instruments and if we want anyone to hear it, we record it, and then send them a tape. George Martin's contribution on 'Please Please Me' was quite a big one, actually. It was the first time that he actually ever showed that he could see beyond what we were offering him. 'Please Please Me' was originally conceived as a Roy Orbison type thing, you know. George Martin said, 'Well, we'll put the tempo up.' He lifted the tempo and we saw that it was much better.

—Paul McCartney, 1963

The group arrived at the studio at 6:00pm for a one-hour rehearsal. Later, when they started recording, it was decided that 'Please Please Me' should be taped without the distinctive harmonica wailing. This was superimposed later, by doing a tape-to-tape overdub, because it was difficult for John to sing, play harmonica, and play guitar simultaneously. Including the harmonica edit pieces the song was recorded in 18 takes, and at the end George Martin spoke to the group over the talkback. 'You've just made your first number one.' He was not wrong.

The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn, p.23, 1988

On my first visit in September we just ran through some tracks for George Martin. We even did 'Please Please Me'. I remember that, because while we were recording it I was playing the bass drum with a maraca in one hand and a tambourine in the other.

—Ringo Starr, 19__

At that stage 'Please Please Me' was a very dreary song. It was like a Roy Orbison number, very slow, bluesy vocals. It was obvious to me that it badly needed pepping up. I told them to bring it in next time and we'd have another go at it.

—George Martin, quoted in The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn, p.20, 1988

We sang it and George Martin said, 'Can we change the tempo?' We said, 'What's that?' He said, 'Make it a bit faster. Let me try it.' And he did. We thought, 'Oh, that's all right, yes.' Actually, we were a bit embarrassed that he had found a better tempo than we had.

—Paul McCartney, 19__

Once 'Please Please Me' was in the can, we went for a celebratory meal in London's West End where our distinctive hairstyles and stylish taste for suede clothes caused quite a stir. As we were hardly known in our own right, we decided to impersonate The Shadows. We were shouting from table to table, 'Have you seen the menu, Hank?' and replying, 'Not yet, Liquorice.' This was a job made easier because I was wearing my heavy rimmed Hank Marvin glasses. When the waiter began to take our order, he asked me, 'What would you like to order Hank?' Interestingly enough, some distance away, a young man and his girlfriend were watching and, after a while, he came over and asked us, 'You're The Tornados, aren't you?'

—John Lennon, 1963

The Beatles perform this on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.

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