The Beatles, album "The Beatles' Ballads"
Lyrics of the album
Listen the album
LP - collections - Studio EMI Studios - 1980
02:02 Yesterday (Paul McCartney – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 14.06.1965
But Paul helped me on the lyric.'GEORGE 1980:
'I had bought, earlier, a crummy sitar in London… and played the 'Norwegian Wood' bit.'JOHN 1980:
''Norwegian Wood' is my song completely.
It was about an affair I was having.
I was very careful and paranoid because I didn't want my wife, Cyn, to know that there really was something going on outside of the household.
I'd always had some kind of affairs going on, so I was trying to be sophisticated in writing about an affair… but in such a smoke-screen way that you couldn't tell.
But I can't remember any specific woman it had to do with.'PAUL 1985:
'It was me who decided in 'Norwegian Wood' that the house should burn down… not that it's any big deal.'
'Well, I can't say I wrote it 'for' George.
My mother was always… she was a good comedienne and a singer.
Not professional, but she used to get up in pubs and things like that.
She had a good voice.
She could do Kay Starr.
She used to do this little tune when I was one or two years old… she was still living with me then.
The tune was from a Disney movie: (sings) 'Do you want to know a secret? Promise not to tell? You are standing by a wishing well.' So, I had this sort of thing in my head, and I wrote it and just gave it to George to sing.
I thought it would be a good for him, because it had only three notes and he wasn't the best singer in the world.
He has improved a lot since then; but in those days, his ability was very poor.'PAUL 1984:
'A song we really wrote for George to sing.
Before he wrote his own stuff, John and I wrote things for him and Ringo to do.'GEORGE 1994:
''Do You Want To Know A Secret' was my song on the album.
I didn't like the vocal on it.
I didn't know how to sing.'
01:57 For No One (Paul McCartney – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 19.05.1966
'Another of his I really liked.'JOHN 1980:
One of my favorites of his.
A nice piece of work.'PAUL 1984:
'I wrote that on a skiing holiday in Switzerland.
In a hired chalet amongst the snow.'PAUL circa-1994:
'I suspect it was about another argument.
I don't have easy relationships with women, I never have.
I talk too much truth.'
'Both of us.
I wrote the middle with him.'PAUL 1977:
''Michelle' was like a joke French tune for when you go to a party or something.
That's all it was.
And then after a while you say, 'Well, that's quite a good tune.
Let's put some real words to it.''JOHN 1980:
'He and I were staying somewhere and he walked in and hummed the first few bars, with the words, and he says, 'Where do I go from here?' I had been listening to (blues singer) Nina Simone.
I think it was 'I Put A Spell On You.' There was a line in it that went, 'I love you, I love you.' That's what made me think of the middle-eight for 'Michelle.' So, my contributions to Paul's songs was always to add a little bluesy edge to them.
Otherwise, 'Michelle' is a straight ballad, right? He provided a lightness, an optimism, while I would always go for the sadness, the discords, the bluesy notes.'PAUL 1988:
'I'll never forget putting the bass line in 'Michelle' because it was a kind of Bizet thing.
It really turned the song around.
You could do that with bass.
It was very exciting.'
02:41 Nowhere Man (John Lennon – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 22.10.1965
'I'd spent five hours that morning trying to write a song that was meaningful and good, and I finally gave up and lay down.
Then 'Nowhere Man' came, words and music… the whole damn thing, as I lay down.
So letting it go is what the whole game is.
You put your finger on it, it slips away, right? You know, you turn the lights on and the cockroaches run away.
You can never grasp them.'PAUL 1984:
'That was John after a night out, with dawn coming up.
I think at that point in his life, he was a bit wondering where he was going.'PAUL 1988:
'I remember we wanted very treble-y guitars – which they are – they're among the most treble-y guitars I've ever heard on record.
The engineer said, 'Alright, I'll put full treble on it,' and we said, 'That's not enough.' He said, 'But that's all I've got.' And we replied, 'Well, put that through another lot of faders and put full treble up on that.
And if that's not enough we'll go through another lot of faders.' They said, 'We don't do that,' and we would say, 'Just try it… if it sounds crappy we'll lose it, but it might just sound good.' You'd then find, 'Oh it worked,' and they were secretly glad because they had been the engineer who put three times the allowed value of treble on a song.
I think they were quietly proud of those things.'
'One I do which I like is, 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away.' But it's not commercial.'JOHN 1971:
'It's one of those that you sort of sing a bit sadly to yourself, 'Here I stand/Head in hand.' I started thinking about my own emotions.
I don't know when exactly it started, like 'I'm A Loser' or 'Hide Your Love Away,' or those kind of things.
Instead of projecting myself into a situation I would just try to express what I felt about myself which I had done in me books.
I think it was Dylan helped me realize that – I had a sort of professional songwriter's attitude to writing Pop songs, but to express myself I would write 'Spaniard In The Works' or 'In His Own Write' – the personal stories which were expressive of my personal emotions.
I'd have a separate 'songwriting' John Lennon who wrote songs for the sort of meat market, and I didn't consider them, the lyrics or anything, to have any depth at all.
Then I started being me about the songs… not writing them objectively, but subjectively.'JOHN 1980:
'That's me in my Dylan period again.
I am like a chameleon… influenced by whatever is going on.
If Elvis can do it, I can do it.
If the Everly Brothers can do it, me and Paul can.
Same with Dylan.'PAUL 1984:
'That was John doing a Dylan… heavily influenced by Bob.
If you listen, he's singing it like Bob.'
'One of my best songs.
Not one of the best recordings, but I like the lyrics.'JOHN 1980:
'I was a bit more artsy-fartsy there.
I was lying next to my first wife in bed, (song originally written in 1967) you know, and I was irritated.
She must have been going on and on about something and she'd gone to sleep – and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream.
I went downstairs and it turned into a sort of cosmic song rather than an irritated song – rather than 'Why are you always mouthing off at me?' or whatever, right? …and I've sat down and looked at it and said, 'Can I write another one with this meter?' It's so interesting.
'Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup/ They slither while the pass, they slip away across the universe.' Such an extraordinary meter and I can never repeat it! It's not a matter of craftsmanship – it wrote itself.
It drove me out of bed.
I didn't want to write it… and I couldn't get to sleep until I put it on paper… It's like being possessed – like a psychic or a medium.
The thing has to go down.
It won't let you sleep, so you have to get up, make it into something, and then you're allowed to sleep.
That's always in the middle of the night when you're half-awake or tired and your critical facilities are switched off.'
02:05 All My Loving (Paul McCartney – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 30.07.1963
'This was one of his first biggies.'JOHN 1980:
''All My Loving' is Paul, I regret to say.
Because it's a damn fine piece of work.
But I play a pretty mean guitar in back.'PAUL 1984:
'Yeah, I wrote that one.
It was the first song I ever wrote where I had the words before the music.
I wrote the words on a bus on tour, then we got the tune when I arrived there.
The first time I've ever worked upside down.'PAUL 1988:
'I think that was the first song where I wrote the words without the tune.
I wrote the words on the tour bus during our tour with Roy Orbison.
We did alot of writing then.'PAUL circa-1994:
'It was a good show song.
It worked well live.'
07:05 Hey Jude (Paul McCartney – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 12.08.1968
'Well, when Paul first sang 'Hey Jude' to me… or played me the little tape he'd made of it… I took it very personally.
'Ah, it's me,' I said, 'It's me.' He says, 'No, it's me.' I said, 'Check.
We're going through the same bit.' So we all are.
Whoever is going through a bit with us is going through it, that's the groove.'JOHN 1972:
'That's his best song.'PAUL 1974:
'I remember I played it to John and Yoko, and I was saying, 'These words won't be on the finished version.' Some of the words were: 'The movement you need is on your shoulder,' and John was saying, 'It's great!' I'm saying, 'It's crazy, it doesn't make any sense at all.' He's saying, 'Sure it does, it's great.''JOHN 1980:
'He said it was written about Julian.
He knew I was splitting with Cyn and leaving Julian then.
He was driving to see Julian to say hello.
He had been like an uncle.
And he came up with 'Hey Jude.' But I always heard it as a song to me.
Now I'm sounding like one of those fans reading things into it… Think about it: Yoko had just come into the picture.
He is saying.
'Hey, Jude' – 'Hey, John.' Subconsciously, he was saying, 'Go ahead, leave me.' On a conscious level, he didn't want me to go ahead.
The angel in him was saying, 'Bless you.' The devil in him didn't like it at all, because he didn't want to lose his partner.'PAUL 1985:
'I remember on 'Hey Jude' telling George not to play guitar.
He wanted to do echo riffs after the vocal phrases, which I didn't think was appropriate.
He didn't see it like that, and it was a bit of a number for me to have to 'dare' to tell George Harrison – who's one of the greats – not to play.
It was like an insult.
But that's how we did alot of our stuff.'PAUL circa-1994:
'There is an amusing story about recording it… Ringo walked out to go to the toilet and I hadn't noticed.
The toilet was only a few yards from his drum booth, but he'd gone past my back and I still thought he was in his drum booth.
I started what was the actual take – and 'Hey Jude' goes on for hours before the drums come in – and while I was doing it I suddenly felt Ringo tiptoeing past my back rather quickly, trying to get to his drums.
And just as he got to his drums, boom boom boom, his timing was absolutely impeccable.'
'I like George's song 'Something.' For me I think it's the best he's written.'GEORGE 1969:
'I wrote the song 'Something' for the album before this one, but I never finished it off until just recently.
I usually get the first few lines of words and music together, both at once… and then finish the rest of the melody.
Then I have to write the words.
It's like another song I wrote when we were in India.
I wrote the whole first verse and just said everything I wanted to say, and so now I need to write a couple more verses.
I find that much more difficult.
But John gave me a handy tip.
He said, 'Once you start to write a song, try to finish it straight away while you're still in the same mood.' Sometimes you go back to it and you're in a whole different state of mind.
So now, I do try to finish them straight away.'GEORGE 1980:
''Something' was written on the paino while we were making the White Album.
I had a break while Paul was doing some overdubbing so I went into an empty studio and began to write.
That's really all there is to it, except the middle took some time to sort out.
It didn't go on the White Album because we'd already finished all the tracks.'
'Now that's Paul.
Another good lyric.
Shows he's capable of writing complete songs.'PAUL circa-1994:
''Fool On The Hill' was mine and I think I was writing about someone like the Maharishi.
His detractors called him a fool.
Because of his giggle he wasn't taken too seriously… I was sitting at the piano at my father's house in Liverpool hitting a D6 chord, and I made up 'Fool On The Hill.''
'The album was finished a year ago, but a few months ago American record producer Phil Spector was called in by John Lennon to tidy up some of the tracks.
But a few weeks ago, I was sent a re-mixed version of my song 'The Long And Winding Road' with harps, horns, an orchestra, and a women's choir added.
No one had asked me what I thought.
I couldn't believe it.
The record came with a note from Allen Klein saying he thought the changes were necessary.
I don't blame Phil Spector for doing it, but it just goes to show that it's no good me sitting here thinking I'm in control because obviously I'm not.
Anyway, I've sent Klein a letter asking for some things to be altered, but I haven't received an answer yet.'JOHN 1980:
He had a little spurt just before we split.'PAUL circa-1994:
'It's rather a sad song.
I like writing sad songs, it's a good bag to get into because you can actually acknowledge some deeper feelings of your own and put them in it.
It's a good vehicle, it saves having to go to a psychiatrist.
Songwriting often performs that feat – you say it, but you don't embarrass yourself because it's only a song, or is it? You are putting the things that are bothering you on the table and you are reviewing them, but because it's a song, you don't have to argue with anyone… It's a sad song because it's all about the unattainable; the door you never quite reach.
This is the road that you never get to the end of.'
GEORGE 1980: '…written at a time when Apple was getting like school, where we had to go and be businessmen – all this signing accounts, and 'sign this' and 'sign that.' Anyway, it seems as if winter in England goes on forever; by the time spring comes you really deserve it.
So one day I decided, 'I'm going to sag-off Apple,' and I went over to Eric Clapton's house.
I was walking in his garden.
The relief of not having to go and see all those dopey accountants was wonderful.
And I was walking around the garden with one of Eric's acoustic guitars, and wrote 'Here Comes The Sun.'
02:19 Blackbird (Paul McCartney – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 19.07.1968
'It's simple in concept because you couldn't think of anything else to put on it.
Maybe on 'Pepper' we would have sort of worked on it until we could find some way to put violins or trumpets in there.
But I don't think it needs it, this one.
You know, it's just… There's nothing to the song.
It is just one of those 'pick it and sing it' and that's it.
The only point where we were thinking of putting anything on it is where it comes back in the end… sort of stops and comes back in… but instead of putting any backing on it, we put a blackbird on it.
So there's a blackbird singing at the very end.
And somebody said it was a thrush, but I think it's a blackbird!'JOHN 1980:
'I gave him (Paul) a line on that one.'PAUL circa-1994:
'The original inspiration was from a well-known piece by Bach, which I never know the title of, which George and I had learned to play at an early age – he better than me actually.
Part of its structure is a particular harmonic thing between the melody and the bass line which intrigued me… I developed the melody based on the Bach piece and took it somewhere else, took it to another level, then I just fitted words to it.
I had in my mind a black woman, rather than a bird.
Those were the days of the civil-rights movement, which all of us cared passionately about.
So this was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the states… 'Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith, there is hope.' As is often the case with my things, a veiling took place.
So, rather than say 'Black woman living in Little Rock' and be very specific, she became a bird, became symbolic, so you could apply it to your particular problem.'
'Both of us wrote it.
The first half was Paul's and the middle-eight is mine.'JOHN 1980:
''And I Love Her' is Paul again.
I consider it his first 'Yesterday.' You know, the big ballad in 'A Hard Day's Night.'PAUL 1984:
'It's just a love song.
It wasn't for anyone.
Having the title start in midsentence, I thought that was clever.
Well, Perry Como did 'And I Love You So' many years later.
Tried to nick the idea.
I like that… it was a nice tune, that one.
I still like it.'
PAUL 1984: 'I wrote that.
My kind of ballad from that period.
One of my daughters likes that.
The other thing I remember is that George Martin was offended that I used another arranger.
He was busy and I was itching to get on with it; I was inspired.
I think George had a lot of difficulty forgiving me for that.
It hurt him; I didn't mean to.'
'This was a great one of his.'JOHN 1980:
'That's Paul's song completely, I believe.
And one of my favorite songs of the Beatles.'PAUL 1984:
'I wrote that by John's pool one day.
When we were working together, sometimes he came in to see me.
But mainly, I went out to see him.'PAUL circa-1994:
''Here, There and Everywhere' has a couple of interesting structural points about it… each verse takes a word.
'Here' discusses here, Next verse, 'there' discusses there, then it pulls it all together in the last verse with 'everywhere.' …John might have helped with a few last words.'
03:47 Let It Be (Paul McCartney – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 03.01.1970
'That's Paul… I think it was inspired by 'Bridge Over Troubled Water.' That's my feeling, although I have nothing to go on.
I know he wanted to write a 'Bridge Over Troubled Water.''PAUL 1986:
'I had alot of bad times in the '60s.
We used to lie in bed and wonder what was going on and feel quite paranoid.
Probably all the drugs.
I had a dream one night about my mother.
She died when I was fourteen so I hadn't really heard from her in quite a while, and it was very good.
It gave me some strength.'PAUL circa-1994:
'One night during this tense time I had a dream I saw my mum, who'd been dead ten years or so.
And it was great to see her because that's a wonderful thing about dreams, you actually are reunited with that person for a second… In the dream she said, 'It'll be alright.' I'm not sure if she used the words 'Let it be' but that was the gist of her advice, it was 'Don't worry too much, it will turn out okay.' It was such a sweet dream I woke up thinking, 'Oh, it was really great to visit with her again.' I felt very blessed to have that dream.'
Songs of Beatles