Monday, September 06, 2010

Lennon & McCartney (Songwriters) Ltd. (1963)

If at some future date--possibly around the year 2014 or 2016--The Beatles ceased to be popular with the disc-purchasing public they'd be quite content to fall back upon a variety of other occupations.

Ringo might turn his attention to motor racing and begin to drive himself to fresh glories on tracks which have nothing to do with discs.

George says he fancies himself in the role of a traffic warden because he'd like to stop other wardens parking anywhere in their off-duty hours.

John and Paul, on the other hand, would stick together and write songs from now until Doomsday because it is (a) something at which they are expert (b) something which they treat as a pleasing pastime rather than a job of work.

One Hundred Songs

Over the last four years John and Paul have written more than a hundred songs. Within the last twelve months twenty-three recordings of their compositions have been issued--including those used on each and every single-play side out by The Beatles to date. Billy J. Kramer With The Dakotas scuttled up the best sellers with Lennon/McCartney compositions. "Do You Want To Know A Secret" and "I'll Be On My Way." And a second pair--"Bad To Me" and "I Call Your Name"--made up the most recent Kramer single. Kenny Lynch cut "Misery." The Kestrels made a mighty exciting version of "There's A Place," Tommy Quickly was launched at the end of July via "Tip Of My Tongue," Duffy Power recorded "I Saw Her Standing There" and American visitor Del Shannon was so impressed by the song-writing of John and Paul that he went home to cover "From Me To You" for the American market. The latest Liverpool group, The Fourmost, have put a Beatle-scribed number, "Hello Little Girl," on the top deck of their first release.

Back and Front-Room Boys

It is extraordinary to find good song-writers who are also first class performers. Normally hit tunes and clever lyrics are created by back-room boys who make a full-time career of this one segment of the pop business.

I asked John how the tuneful twosome found time to pen pop chart-smashers when they have so much travelling and performing to fit into their bustling lives. "It isn't a matter of finding time" he declared "it is simply a question of waiting for ideas to arrive, sometimes this will happen in the van or on a train when we're halfway between engagements. Once one of us has come up with a few introductory phrases or a good theme for the lyrics we can bang the whole thing into shape within an hour."

"Hello Little Girl"

On the other hand new songs are not rolling off the assembly line at the pace one might imagine because several recently issued records have carried material which John and Paul penned years ago. Drawn from their stockpile of oldies was "Hello Little Girl" which they've just given to The Fourmost. Says Paul: "This one already has a well-prepared audience in Liverpool. We used to feature 'Hello Little Girl' at the Cavern Club long before we made our own first records. It was one of our most popular request items at one stage."

Are they afraid of giving away too much valuable material to other groups? Not according to Paul: "It works both ways. If someone like Billy J. scores with one of our numbers, people want to hear what The Beatles' version is like. So we can include it in our concert act or on an L.P. album."

Combined Effort

Some people have the impression that Paul writes the music and John puts words to the finished melody. The idea got around because John's flair for writing off-beat poetry is well known. In fact both boys work on both sides of the song construction job--with lots of discussion and modification taking place between the original idea and the completed product.

"Lyrics are very important" says John "because there are hundreds of good and bad ways of saying 'I love you' in song. Romance is almost always the main subject of our lyrics but we don't go for those dreary lines about boys wandering around in tears because some bird has left them. Life's much too hard and fast to dwell on unrequited affection when they're still at the love-'em-and-leave-'em stage. There's no reason why a pop song should distort everyday facts for the sake of fantasy. It should reflect normal happening in every day language." I'll let Paul have the final word on the pop-penning game: "There's never any idea of selling off our second-rate stuff to other artists. We write bad songs like everyone else but they never see the light of day outside our own circle. Of the better songs we select those which are suited to the group's style for Beatle records and pass over others to people who can put them across most effectively."


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