One of the very first albums I owned, from the Capitol Records Club, was something called Big Hits of from ENGLAND AND USA: one side contained two songs each from BEATLES, BEACH BOYS, and PETER & GORDON for “the kids”, the other side, two songs by NAT KING COLE and CILLA BLACK, plus one by AL MARTINO for “the grownups.” The intriguing thing I discovered is that Lennon-McCartney were listed as composers not only of the Beatles’ songs, Can’t Buy Me Love and You Can’t Do That, but also of the songs of Peter & Gordon, A World Without Love and Nobody I Know. I wasn’t then up on the Beatles’ trivia that Peter was the brother of Paul’s girlfriend Jane Asher.
So, I have a LOT of music written by John and Paul. Some of it the Beatles didn’t even release, or appeared for the first time on the Anthology series, including the album pictured, the Songs Lennon & McCartney Gave Away. I read somewhere, though I’ve never confirmed it, that there were over 100 non-Beatles L&M songs.
What’s the cause of this nostalgic look? Why, today is the 50th anniversary of the meeting of John Winston Lennon and James Paul McCartney at the Woolton Garden fête held at St. Peter’s Church. Liverpool. John’s Quarrymen were playing, and after the gig, Ivan Vaughan, a mutual friend, did the intros. Paul showed John what he could do on the guitar, soon joined The Quarrymen, and the rest, as they say…
The bulk of the non-Beatles Beatles songs I own range from classic (Joe Cocker on a few tunes) to banal (The Brady Bunch on Love Me Do) to awful (Elvis doing Hey Jude). I’ve listened to a LOT of versions of their songs recently, from classical to Latin to soul. There are remakes of entire albums, including my most recent acquisition, Meet the Smithereens, a very competent, but hardly essential, redo of Meet the Beatles, which, annoyingly, attributes ALL of the songs to Lennon & McCartney; George Harrison wrote Don’t Bother Me and Meredith Wilson wrote ‘Til There Was You. Thanks to Fred Hembeck for turning me on to several of these.
The funniest, and by that, I mean the funniest L&M song that wasn’t intended to be funny, has to be Mitch Miller and the Gang doing Give Peace a Chance; that straight-laced, but well-sung, choir doing the chorus, while the lead vocalist doing the verses, and lines such as “Stick it to the man.” This is as goofy as some of those old Dragnet shows, where Joe Friday confronts “the hippies”. (And yes, I know Give Peace a Chance was Plastic Ono Band, but the songwriting credits were still citing John and Paul.)
So, happy anniversary to a partnership that, thanks to technology, has managed to recreate their music into this century.
Folks, I’d love you share your lists of favorite and least favorite songs written by Lennon-McCartney, and who performed them.
Johnny B. directed us to a series of articles about Paul and the Beatles; the part 3 best encapsulates the magic which was the Beatles.
Yes, I watched Larry King last week, when Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Olivia were on. I don’t think he’s a great interviewer, but the occasion, the first anniversary of the Cirque du Soleil show LOVE, was…nice.
Ringo, the eldest of the four Beatles who made it big, turns 67 tomorrow.