Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Can't Buy Me Love"

"Can't Buy Me Love" is the title of a song composed by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon/McCartney) and released by The Beatles on the A side of their sixth British single, "Can't Buy Me Love/You Can't Do That."


When pressed by American journalists in 1966 to reveal the song's "true" meaning, McCartney denied that "Can't Buy Me Love" was about prostitution, stating that, although it was open to interpretation, that suggestion was going too far, saying: "The idea behind it was that all these material possessions are all very well, but they won't buy me what I really want." Although he was to later comment: "It should have been 'Can Buy Me Love' " when reflecting on the perks that money and fame had brought him.

The line "I don't care too much for money / Money can't buy me love" expresses the opposite sentiment from their earlier cover, "Money (That's What I Want)."


While in Paris, The Beatles stayed at the five star George V hotel and had an upright piano moved into one of their suites so that song writing could continue. It was here that McCartney wrote "Can't Buy Me Love." The song was written under the pressure of the success achieved by "I Want to Hold Your Hand" which had just reached number one in America. When producer George Martin first heard "Can't Buy Me Love" he felt the song needed changing: “I thought that we really needed a tag for the song’s ending, and a tag for the beginning; a kind of intro. So I took the first two lines of the chorus and changed the ending, and said “Let’s just have these lines, and by altering the second phrase we can get back into the verse pretty quickly”. And they said, “That’s not a bad idea, we’ll do it that way.” The song's verse is a twelve bar blues in structure, a formula that The Beatles would actually seldom apply to their own material. It was also one of the first Beatles songs not to include any other singers other than the lead vocalist (in this case, McCartney).


"Can't Buy Me Love" was recorded on 29 January 1964 at EMI's Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, France, where The Beatles were performing 18 days of concerts at the Olympia Theatre. At this time, EMI's West Germany branch, Odeon, insisted that The Beatles would not sell records in any significant numbers in Germany unless they were actually sung in the German language and The Beatles reluctantly agreed to re-record the vocals to "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" prior to them being released in Germany. George Martin traveled to Paris with a newly mastered rhythm track for what was to be “Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand”. “Sie Liebt Dich” (She Loves You) required The Beatles to record a new rhythm track as the original two track recording had been scrapped. EMI sent a translator to be present for this recording session which had been hurriedly arranged to tie in with The Beatles Paris commitments. This was accomplished well within the allotted studio time allowing The Beatles an opportunity to record the backing track (with just an English guide vocal) to the recently composed "Can't Buy Me Love." McCartney's final vocal was overdubbed at Abbey Road Studios, London, on 25 February.

Also re-recorded on this day at Abbey Road was George Harrison's modified guitar solo, although his original solo can still just be heard in the background. George said, "What happened was, we recorded first in Paris and re-recorded in England. Obviously they'd tried to overdub it, but in those days they only had two tracks, so you can hear the version we put on in London, and in the background you can hear a quieter one." Helen Shapiro, a friend of The Beatles and present at this overdub session, says that Ringo Starr also added extra cymbals “over the top” and that “apparently this was something he did quite often on their records.” "Can't Buy Me Love" is also the only English-language Beatles track that The Beatles themselves recorded in a studio outside the UK, although the instrumental portion of The Beatles' B-side "The Inner Light" was recorded in India by Indian session musicians.


* John Lennon – acoustic rhythm guitar
* Paul McCartney – double tracked vocal, bass
* George Harrison – double tracked lead guitar
* Ringo Starr – drums

U.S. music charts

The Beatles established four records on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Can't Buy Me Love" at number one:

1. Until Billboard began using SoundScan for their charts, it had the biggest jump to number one: (number twenty-seven to number one; no other single ever did this).
2. It gave The Beatles three consecutive number-one songs ("I Want to Hold Your Hand" was replaced at number one by "She Loves You" which was in turn replaced by "Can't Buy Me Love").
3. When "Can't Buy Me Love" went to number one (4 April 1964), the entire top five of the Hot 100 was by The Beatles, the next positions being filled by "Twist and Shout", "She Loves You", "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "Please Please Me," respectively. No other act has held the top five spots simultaneously.
4. During its second week at number one (11 April 1964), The Beatles had fourteen songs on the Hot 100 at the same time.

Rolling Stone ranked "Can't Buy Me Love" at #289 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

U.K. music charts

Can't Buy Me Love became The Beatles fourth UK number-one single and their third single to sell over a million copies in the UK.

The song was also released in the following albums: "A Hard Day's Night" (both the American United Artists and British Parlophone versions), "Big Hits From England And The U.S.A.", a various artists compilation album from Capitol issued in 1964; the British-only LP release "A Collection Of Beatles Oldies", the 1970 compilation "Hey Jude (also known as "The Beatles Again"), the 1973 double disc collection "The Beatles/1962-1966" (The Red Album), the 1982 release "Reel Music" which features songs from Beatles films, the 1982 compilation "20 Greatest Hits" (both in England and America), and "The Beatles 1", released in November 2000.

Cover versions

* Paul McCartney (2003)
* The Chipmunks (1964)
* The Eliminators (1964)
* Ella Fitzgerald (1964)
* Johnny Rivers (1964)
* George Martin (1964)
* The Supremes (1964)
* Dave "Baby" Cortez (1965)
* Henry Mancini (1965)
* Peter Sellers (1965)
* Chet Atkins (1966)
* Count Basie and his Orchestra (1966)
* Cathy Berberian (1967)
* Phil Seaman (1968)
* David Clayton-Thomas (1973)
* Shirley Scott & Stanley Turrentine (1978)
* Stanley Turrentine (1981)
* The King's Singers (1988)
* The Allen Toussaint Orchestra (1989)
* Elena Duran, Stephane Grappelli & Laurie Holloway (1991)
* Giovanni (1993)
* Shenandoah (1995)
* Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck (Joe Alaskey) (1995)
* Blackstreet (1996)
* John Pizzarelli (1998)
* The Punkles (1998)
* Laurence Juber (2000)
* Jive Bunny & the Mastermixers (2001)
* Michael Bublé (2005)
* Wayne Brady (2008)
* House of Heroes (2009)

B-side: "You Can't Do That"
Released: 20 March 1964 (UK), 16 March 1964 (US)
Format: 7"
Recorded: Pathé Marconi Studios, 29 January 1964
Genre: Rock
Length: 2:11
Label: Parlophone R5114 (UK), Capitol 5150 (US)
Writer(s): Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


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