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The Beatles 40 best songs: at 20 Paperback Writer


Paperback Writer was recorded between 13 and 14 April 1966. It was released 30 May 1966 (US) and 10 June 1966 (UK).

“I think I might have helped with some of the lyrics. Yes, I did. But it was mainly Paul’s tune.”
– John Lennon (Hit Parade in 1972) 

“Paperback Writer is son of Day Tripper, but it is Paul’s song. Son of Day Tripper meaning a rock ‘n’ roll song with a guitar lick on a fuzzy, loud guitar.”
– John Lennon (Playboy, 1980)

“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 John, as I recall, just sat there and said, ‘Oh, that’s it,’ ‘Uhuh,’ ‘Yeah.’ I remember him, his amused smile, saying, ‘Yes, that’s it, that’ll do.’ Quite a nice moment: ‘Hmm, I’ve done right! I’ve done well!’ 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 a lot of melody. Then I had the idea to do the harmonies and we arranged that in the studio.”
– Paul McCartney (“Many years from now” by Barry Miles)

I love the sound on this single, Paperback Writer/Rain, the bass lines are incredible. The story according to Mark Lewisohn goes that it was John Lennon who demanded to know why the bass on a certain Wilson Pickett record far exceeded the bass on any Beatles records. This single certainly changed that.

“‘Paperback Writer’ was the first time the bass sound had been heard in all its excitement,” said Beatles’ engineer Geoff Emerick in Mark Lewisohn’s book The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions. “Paul played a different bass, a Rickenbacker. Then we boosted it further by using a loudspeaker as a microphone.

These are the probable credits:

  • Paul McCartney – lead vocal, bass guitar
  • John Lennon – backing vocal, rhythm guitar
  • George Harrison – backing vocal, lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine

The Beatles – Paperback Writer (promo):

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