The Beatles, album "Past Masters"
Lyrics of the album
Listen the album
LP - collections - Studio EMI Studios - 1988
'It came to the charts in two days.
And everybody thought it was a 'fiddle' because our manager's stores send in these… what is it… record returns.
And everybody down south thought, 'Aha! He's just fiddling the charts.' But he wasn't.'JOHN 1972:
'Paul wrote the main structure of this when he was sixteen, or even earlier.
I think I had something to do with the middle.'RINGO 1976:
'The first record, 'Love Me Do,' for me that was more important than anything else.
That first piece of plastic.
You can't believe how great that was.
It was so wonderful.
We were on a record!'JOHN 1980:
''Love Me Do' is Paul's song.
He had the song around in Hamburg even, way, way before we were songwriters.'PAUL 1982:
'In Hamburg we clicked… At the Cavern we clicked… but if you want to know when we 'knew' we'd arrived, it was getting in the charts with 'Love Me Do.' That was the one.
It gave us somewhere to go.'PAUL 1984:
''Love Me Do' …the first song we recorded, like, for real.
First serious audition.
I was very nervous, I remember.
John was supposed to sing the lead, but they changed their minds and asked me to sing lead at the last minute, because they wanted John to play harmonica.
Until then, we hadn't rehearsed with a harmonica; George Martin started arranging it on the spot.
It was very nerve-wracking.'PAUL 1988:
''Love Me Do' was us trying to do the blues.
It came out whiter because it always does.
We're white, and we were just young Liverpool musicians.
We didn't have the finesse to be able to actually sound black.
But 'Love Me Do' was probably the first bluesy thing we tried to do.'PAUL circa-1994:
'George Martin said, 'Can anyone play a harmonica? It would be rather nice.
Couldn't think of some sort of bluesy thing, could you John?' John played a chromatic harmonica… I actually had one too but he'd been clever – he learned to play it.
John expected to be in jail one day and he'd be the guy who played the harmonica.
The lyric crossed over the harmonica solo, so I suddenly got thrown the big open line, 'Love me do,' where everything stopped.
Until that session John had always done it.
I didn't even know how to sing it… I can still hear the nervousness in my voice.'
''From Me To You.' It could be done as an old Ragtime tune… especially the middle-eight.
And so, we're not writing the tunes in any particular idiom.
In five years time, we may arrange the tunes differently.
(jokingly) But we'll probably write the same old rubbish!!'JOHN 1980:
'We were writing it in a car, I think… and I think the first line was mine.
I mean, I know it was mine.
(humms melody) And then after that we just took it from there.
We were just writing the next single.
It was far bluesier than that when we wrote it.
The notes, today… you could rearrange it pretty funky.'PAUL circa-1994:
'The thing I liked about 'From Me To You' was it had a very complete middle.
It went to a surprising place.
The opening chord of the middle section of that song heralded a new batch for me.
That was a pivotal song.
Our songwriting lifted a little with that song.
It was very much co-written.'
''Thank You Girl' was one of our efforts at writing a single that didn't work.
So it became a B-side or an album track.'PAUL 1988:
'We knew that if we wrote a song called, 'Thank You Girl' that alot of the girls who wrote us fan letters would take it as a genuine thank you.
So alot of our songs were directly addressed to the fans.'
'We wrote that two days before we recorded it, actually.'PAUL 1963:
'John and I wrote it together.
We were in a van up in Newcastle somewhere, and we'd just gone over to our hotel.
I originally got an idea of doing one of those answering songs, where a couple of us sing about 'she loves you' …and the other one sort of says the 'yes, yes' bit.
You know, 'yeah yeah' answering whoever is saying it.
But we decided that was a crummy idea anyway.
But we had the idea to write a song called 'She Loves You' then.
And we just sat up in the hotel bedroom for a few hours and wrote it, you know.'JOHN 1963:
''Yeah.' That's sort of the main catch phrase from 'She Loves You.' We'd written the song, and then suddenly realized we needed more… so we added 'yeah, yeah, yeah' and it caught on.'JOHN 1980:
'It was written together (with Paul) and I don't remember how.
I remember it was Paul's idea – instead of singing 'I love you' again, we'd have a third party.
The 'Woooo' was taken from the Isley Brothers 'Twist And Shout,' which we stuck into everything.'PAUL 1982:
'Occasionally, we'd overrule George Martin, like on 'She Loves You,' we end on a sixth chord, a very jazzy sort of thing.
And he said, 'Oh, you can't do that! A sixth chord? It's too jazzy.'
We just said, 'No, it's a great hook, we've got to do it.''PAUL 1988:
'We rehearsed the end bit of 'She Loves You' and took it to George.
And he just laughed and said, 'Well, you can't do the end of course… that sixth… it's too like the Andrew Sisters.' We just said, 'Alright, we'll try it without,' and we tried it and it wasn't as good.
Then he conceded, 'You're right, I guess.' But we were both very flexible.
We would listen to George's ideas too, because he was a producer and a musician, and he obviously knew what he was talking about.
There was good to-and-fro.
We loved that bit, and we rehearsed it alot.
John and I wrote that in a hotel room, on twin beds during an afternoon off – I mean, God bless their little cotton socks, those boys WORKED! Here I am talking about an afternoon off, and we're sitting there writing! We just loved it so much.
It wasn't work.'
'The B-side of 'She Loves You' was meant to be the A-side.'PAUL 1963:
'If we write one song, then we can get going after that and get more ideas.
We wrote 'I'll Get You,' which is the B-side, first.
And then 'She Loves You' came after that.
You know – We got ideas from that.
Then we recorded it.'JOHN 1980:
'That was Paul and me trying to write a song… and it didn't work out.'PAUL circa-1994:
'It's got an interesting chord in it – 'It's not easy/ To pre-TEND…' That was nicked from a song called 'All My Trials' which is on an album I had by Joan Baez.'
'Let's see, we were told we had to get down to it.
So we found this house when we were walking along one day.
We knew we had to really get this song going, so we got down in the basement of this disused house and there was an old piano.
It wasn't really disused, it was rooms to let.
We found this old piano and started banging away.
There was a little old organ too.
So we were having this informal jam and we started banging away.
Suddenly a little bit came to us, the catch line.
So we started working on it from there.
We got our pens and paper out and just wrote down the lyrics.
Eventually, we had some sort of a song, so we played it for our recording manager and he seemed to like it.
We recorded it the next day.'JOHN 1980:
'We wrote alot of stuff together, one on one, eyeball to eyeball.
Like in 'I Want To Hold Your Hand,' I remember when we got the chord that made the song.
We were in Jane Asher's house, downstairs in the cellar playing on the piano at the same time.
And we had, 'Oh you-u-u/ got that something…' And Paul hits this chord, and I turn to him and say, 'That's it!' I said, 'Do that again!' In those days, we really used to absolutely write like that – both playing into each other's noses.'PAUL circa-1994:
''Eyeball to eyeball' is a very good description of it.
That's exactly how it was.
'I Want To Hold Your Hand' was very co-written.'
02:16 This Boy (John Lennon – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 21.12.1963
'Just my attempt at writing one of those three-part harmony Smokey Robinson songs.
Nothing in the lyrics… just a sound and a harmony.
There was a period when I thought I didn't write melodies… that Paul wrote those and I just wrote straight, shouting rock 'n roll.
But of course, when I think of some of my own songs – 'In My Life,' or some of the early stuff – 'This Boy,' I was writing melody with the best of them.'PAUL 1988:
'Fabulous. And we just loved singing that three-part too.
We'd learned that from: (sings) 'To know know know her is to love love love her…' We learned that in my dad's house in Liverpool.'
02:09 I Call Your Name (John Lennon – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 01.03.1964
'That was my song.
When there was no Beatles and no group, I just had it around.
It was my effort as a kind of blues originally, and then I wrote the middle-eight just to stick it in the album when it came out years later.
The first part had been written before Hamburg even.
It was one of my 'first' attempts at a song.'PAUL circa-1994:
'We worked on it together, but it was John's idea.
When I look back at some of these lyrics, I think, 'Wait a minute.
What did he mean? 'I call your name but you're not there.' Is it his mother? His father? I must admit I didn't really see that as we wrote it because we were just a couple of young guys writing.
You didn't look behind it at the time, it was only later you started analyzing things.'
RINGO 1964: 'I'm featured on it.
Actually it was written by Carl Perkins about six years ago.
Carl came to the session.
I felt very embarrassed.
I did it just two days before I went in the hospital (with tonsilitis) so please forgive my throat.'
02:20 I Feel Fine (John Lennon – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 17.11.1964
'George and I play the same bit on the guitar together – that's the bit that'll set your feet a-tapping, as the reviews say.
The middle-eight is the most tuneful part, to me, because it's a typical Beatles bit.'JOHN 1972:
'This was the first time feedback was used on a record.
It's right at the beginning.'JOHN 1974:
'I wrote this at a recording session.
It was tied together around the guitar riff that opens it.'JOHN 1980:
'That's me completely.
Including the guitar lick with the first feedback anywhere.
I defy anybody to find a record… unless it is some old blues record from 1922… that uses feedback that way.
So I claim it for the Beatles.
Before Hendrix, before the Who, before anybody.
The first feedback on record.'PAUL circa-1994:
'John had a semi-acoustic Gibson guitar.
It had a pick-up on it so it could be amplified… We were just about to walk away to listen to a take when John leaned his guitar against the amp.
I can still see him doing it… and it went, 'Nnnnnnwahhhhh!' And we went, 'What's that? Voodoo!' 'No, it's feedback.' Wow, it's a great sound!' George Martin was there so we said, 'Can we have that on the record?' 'Well, I suppose we could, we could edit it on the front.' It was a found object – an accident caused by leaning the guitar against the amp.
The song itself was more John's than mine.
We sat down and co-wrote it with John's original idea.
John sang it, I'm on harmonies.'
03:03 She's a Woman (Paul McCartney – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 08.10.1964
'That's Paul with some contribution from me on lines, probably.
We put in the words 'turns me on.'
We were so excited to say 'turn me on' – you know, about marijuana and all that… using it as an expression.'PAUL circa-1994:
'This was my attempt at a bluesy thing… instead of doing a Little Richard song, whom I admire greatly, I would use the (vocal) style I would have used for that but put it in one of my own songs.'
02:43 Yes It Is (John Lennon – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 16.02.1965
'That's me trying a rewrite of 'This Boy,' but it didn't quite work.'PAUL circa-1994:
'I was there writing it with John, but it was his inspiration that I helped him finish off.
'Yes It Is' is a very fine song of John's.'
02:32 I'm Down (Paul McCartney – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 14.06.1965
'That's Paul… with a little help from me, I think.'PAUL circa-1994:
'I could do Little Richard's voice which is a wild, hoarse, screaming thing – It's like an out-of-body experience.
You have to leave your current sensibilities and go about a foot above your head to sing it.
Alot of people were fans of Little Richard so I used to sing his stuff, but there came a point when I wanted to do one of my own, so I wrote 'I'm Down.''
But I think Paul helped with the verse.'JOHN 1980:
Including the guitar lick, the guitar break, and the whole bit.
It's just a rock 'n roll song.
Day trippers are people who go on a day trip, right? Usually on a ferry boat or somethng.
But it was kind of – you know, you're just a weekend hippie.
Get it?'PAUL circa-1994:
'Acid was coming on the scene, and we'd often do these songs about 'the girl who thought she was it.' Mainly the impetus for that used to come from John – I think John met quite a few girls who thought they were it… But this was just a tongue-in-cheek song about someone who was a day tripper, a sunday painter, a sunday driver, somebody who was committed only in part to the idea.
Where we saw ourselves as full-time trippers, fully committed drivers, she was just a day tripper.
That was a co-written effort – we were both making it all up but I would give John the main credit.'
'Paul did the first half, I did the middle-eight.
But you've got Paul writing, 'We can work it out/ We can work it out' real optimistic, you know.
And me, impatient, 'Life is very short and there's no time/ for fussing and fighting, my friend.''PAUL circa-1994:
'I wrote it as more of an up-tempo thing, country and western.
I had the basic idea, the title, had a couple of verses… then I took it to John to finish it off and we wrote the middle together, which is nice – 'Life is very short/ And there's no time for fussing and fighting my friend.' Then it was George Harrison's idea to put the middle into waltz time, like a german waltz… The lyrics might have been personal.
It is often a good way to talk to someone or to work your thoughts out.
It saves you going to a psychiatrist, you allow yourself to say what you might not say in person.'
I think I might have helped with some of the lyrics, Yes, I did.
But it was mainly Paul's tune.'JOHN 1980:
''Paperback Writer' is son of 'Day Tripper' …meaning a rock 'n roll song with a guitar lick on a fuzzy loud guitar.'PAUL circa-1994:
'I arrived at Weybridge and told John I had this idea of trying to write off to a publishers to become a paperback writer, and I said, 'I think it should be written like a letter.' I took a bit of paper out and I said it should be something like, 'Dear Sir or Madam, as the case may be…' and I proceeded to write it just like a letter in front of him, occasionally rhyming it… And then we went upstairs and put the melody to it.
John and I sat down and finished it all up, but it was tilted towards me – the original idea was mine.
I had no music, but it's just a little bluesy song, not alot of melody.
Then I had the idea to do the harmonies, and we arranged that in the studio.'
03:02 Rain (John Lennon – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 16.04.1966
'After we'd done the session on that particular song – it ended at about four or five in the morning – I went home with a tape to see what else you could do with it.
And I was sort of very tired, you know, not knowing what I was doing, and I just happened to put it on my own tape recorder and it came out backwards.
And I liked it better.
So that's how it happened.'JOHN 1980:
'That's me again – with the first backwards tape on record anywhere… I got home from the studio and I was stoned out of my mind on marijuana… and, as I usually do, I listened to what I'd recorded that day.
Somehow it got on backwards and I sat there, transfixed, with the earphones on, with a big hash joint.
I ran in the next day and said, 'I know what to do with it, I know… listen to this!' So I made them all play it backwards.
The fade is me actually singing backwards with the guitars going backwards.
(sings) 'Sharethsmnowthsmeanss!' That one was the gift of God… of Ja actually – the god of marijuana, right? So Ja gave me that one.'RINGO 1984:
'My favorite piece of me is what I did on 'Rain.' I think I just played amazing.
I was into the snare and hi-hat.
I think it was the first time I used the trick of starting a break by hitting the hi-hat first instead of going directly to a drum off the hi-hat.
I think it's the best out of all the records I've ever made.
'Rain' blows me away.
It's out in left field.
I know me and I know my playing… and then there's 'Rain.''PAUL circa-1994:
'It was nice.
I really enjoyed that one.'
02:18 Lady Madonna (Paul McCartney – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 06.02.1968
'It sounds like Elvis, doesn't it? No, it doesn't sound like Elvis… it IS Elvis.
Even those bits where he goes very high.'JOHN 1980:
Good piano lick, but the song never really went anywhere.
Maybe I helped him on some of the lyrics.'PAUL 1986:
''Lady Madonna' is all women.
How do they do it? – bless 'em.
Baby at your breast, how do they get the time to feed them? Where do they get the money? How do you do this thing that women do?'PAUL circa-1994:
'The original concept was the Virgin Mary, but it quickly became symbolic of every woman – the Madonna image but as applied to ordinary working-class women.
'Lady Madonna' was me sitting down at the piano trying to write a bluesy boogie-woogie thing.
It reminded me of Fats Domino for some reason, so I started singing a Fats Domino impression.
It took my voice to a very odd place.'
PAUL 1968: 'Forget the Indian music and listen to the melody.
Don't you think it's a beautiful melody? It's really lovely.'
07:08 Hey Jude (Paul McCartney – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 01.08.1968
'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.'
03:25 Revolution (John Lennon – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 12.07.1968
'On 'Revolution' I'm playing the guitar and I haven't improved since I was last playing, but I dug it.
It sounds the way I wanted it to sound.'JOHN 1972:
'I should never have put that in about Chairman Mao.
I was just finishing off in the studio when I did that.'JOHN 1980:
'The statement in 'Revolution' was mine.
The lyrics stand today.
It's still my feeling about politics.
I want to see the plan.
That is what I used to say to Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin.
Count me out if it is for violence.
Don't expect me to be on the barricades unless it is with flowers.
For years, on the Beatles' tours, Brian Epstein had stopped us from saying anything about Vietnam or the war.
And he wouldn't allow questions about it.
But on one of the last tours, I said, 'I'm going to answer about the war.
We can't ignore it.' I absolutely wanted the Beatles to say something about the war.'
03:15 Get Back (Paul McCartney – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 28.01.1969
'We were sitting in the studio and we made it up out of thin air.
We started to write words there and then… When we finished it, we recorded it at Apple Studios and made it into a song to rollercoast by.'JOHN 1980:
''Get Back' is Paul.
That's a better version of 'Lady Madonna.' You know, a potboiler rewrite.'
(to Ringo, regarding the cymbal smash in the intro) 'Give me a big 'kzzzsshhhh!' Give me the courage to come screaming in.'JOHN 1980:
'That's me, singing about Yoko.'PAUL circa-1994:
'It was a very tense period.
John was with Yoko, and had escalated to heroin and all the accompanying paranoias and he was putting himself out on a limb.
I think that, as much as it excited and amused him, at the same time it secretly terrified him.
So 'Don't Let Me Down' was a genuine plea, 'Don't let me down, please, whatever you do.
I'm out on this limb…' It was saying to Yoko, 'I'm really stepping out of line on this one.
I'm really letting my vulnerability be seen, so you must not let me down.' I think it was a genuine cry for help.
It was a good song.
We recorded it in the basement of Apple for 'Let It Be' and later did it up on the roof for the film.
We went through it quite alot for this one.
I sang harmony on it, which makes me wonder if I helped with a couple of the words, but I don't think so.
It was John's song.'
'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.'
03:51 Let It Be (Paul McCartney – John Lennon and Paul McCartney) - 26.11.1969
'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.'
'That was a piece of unfinished music that I turned into a comedy record with Paul.
I was waiting for him in his house, and I saw the phone book was on the piano with the words, 'You know the name, look up the number.' It was like a logo, and I just changed it.
It was going to be a four tops kind of song – the chord changes are like that – but it never developed and we made a joke out of it.'PAUL 1988:
'People are only just discovering the B-sides of Beatles singles.
They're only just discovering things like 'You Know My Name' – probably my favorite Beatles track! Just because it's so insane.
All the memories – I mean, what would you do if a guy like John Lennon turned up at the studio and said, 'I've got a new song.' I said, 'What's the words?' and he replied, 'You know my name look up the number.' I asked, 'What's the rest of it?' '…No.
No other words, those are the words.
And I wanna do it like a mantra!' We did it over a period of maybe two or three years.
We started off and we just did 20 minutes, and we tried it again and it didn't work.
We tried it again, and we had these endless, crazy fun sessions.
Eventually we pulled it all together and I sang, (sings in jazzy voice) 'You know my name…' and we just did a skit.
Mal (Evans) and his gravel.
I can still see Mal digging the gravel.
And it was just so hilarious to put that record together.
It's not a great melody or anything, it's just unique.
Some people haven't discovered that song yet.'PAUL circa-1994:
'I remember at one point we asked Mal (Evans) to shovel a bucket of gravel as a rhythmic device.
We had a bit of a giggle doing those kind of tracks… Brian Jones (Rolling Stones) plays a funny sax solo.
It's not amazingly well played but it happened to be exactly what we wanted.
Brian was very good like that.'
Songs of Beatles