Beatles – Please Please Me

This song broke it open for the Beatles in the UK. After Love Me Do peaked at #17 in the UK charts…this one shot to #1 in the New Musical Express, Disc and Melody Maker charts in 1963. The song would later peak at #3 in the Billboard 100 in 1964 after Beatlemania had hit.

George Martin never cared much for Love Me Do and told the Beatles that. He did like Please Please Me and thought it had potential if they would increase the tempo. They had played it to him very slow like a Roy Orbison song. They worked on it for the next studio visit and it started to take shape.

The song was a vast improvement over Love Me Do. The quick catchy riff with those harmonies are hard to resist. The climbing “come on come on come on” led to a perfect chorus hook.

John Lennon was partly inspired by a line from a Bing Crosby song that read, “Please lend a little ear to my pleas.” He recalled: “I remember the day I wrote it, I heard Roy Orbison doing “Only The Lonely”, or something. And I was also always intrigued by the words to a Bing Crosby song that went, ‘Please lend a little ear to my pleas’. The double use of the word ‘please’. So it was a combination of Roy Orbison and Bing Crosby.”

From Songfacts

This was The Beatles first single released in America, and getting it issued in the States was a struggle. The Beatles first recorded “Please Please Me” on September 11, 1962. That version was rejected for release. They re-recorded the song on November 26, 1962 and that version was first issued in England on the EMI-owned Parlophone label on January 12, 1963. After EMI’s US affiliate, Capitol Records, rejected the song (and a lot of other early Beatles material), the small, Chicago-based Vee Jay label stepped in and released “Please Please Me” stateside on February 25, 1963 and again on January 30, 1964 and August 10,1964. The only release that charted was the second, when The Beatles finally made a name for themselves in America.

John Lennon, who was a big Roy Orbison fan, wrote this in the style of Orbison’s overly dramatic singing. Beatles producer George Martin suggested it would sound better sped up. In 2006, Martin told The Observer Music Monthly, “The songs the Beatles first gave me were crap. This was 1962 and they played a dreadful version of ‘Please Please Me’ as a Roy Orbison-style ballad. But I signed them because they made me feel good to be with them, and if they could convey that on a stage then everyone in the audience would feel good, too. So I took ‘Love Me Do’ and added some harmonica, but it wasn’t financially rewarding even though Brian Epstein bought about 2,000 copies. Then we worked for ages on their new version of ‘Please Please Me,’ and I said: ‘Gentlemen, you’re going to have your first #1.'”

This was rumored to be about oral sex. The Beatles denied this, since they had a very clean image to maintain at the time. Lennon said of the song: “I was always intrigued by the double use of the word ‘please.'”

Although in the UK this was officially a #2 record, three of the four charts used at the time – Melody Maker, NME and Disc – listed it #1. Only the Record Retailer chart had it at #2.

The group’s name was misspelled “Beattles” on the record label on the first American release of the single.

Typical for the verse in “Please Please Me,” and for many of Lennon’s songs, are the long notes (legato) that are also used in hymns – even sounding a bit like Mendelssohn’s Wedding March in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. When Lennon was a little boy he used to go to church on Sunday. Afterwards he improvised his own counterpoints to the hymns.

The climbing in the melody “Come on, come on…” is similar to parts of two traditional folk songs: “New’s Evens Song” and “Come Fair One.” >>

In the UK, this was re-released in 1983 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of it’s initial release.

The Beatles performed this on their second Ed Sullivan Show appearance in 1964. Sullivan was not a fan of many rock groups, but loved The Beatles and had them on his show whenever he could.

This was the second Beatles single released in England, the first being “Love Me Do.”

An early version of this song with session drummer Andy White playing drums instead of Ringo can be found on Anthology 1.

The Please Please Me album was The Beatles debut long player. When they recorded it at Abbey Studios in London, John Lennon was struggling with a streaming cold and all were tired after a tour supporting Helen Shapiro. However with the help and encouragement of producer George Martin within nine hours and 45 minutes they had recorded their groundbreaking LP.

The album was released to cash in on the success of this single in the UK. It took them about 12 hours to record, and was basically a re-creation of their live show, which was mostly cover songs. The album was released with the text “Please Please Me with Love Me Do and 12 other songs.” >>

The Beatles performed this on Thank Your Lucky Stars on January 19, 1963. It was their first ever UK television appearance.

The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown revealed in an interview on the British TV program GMTV that this was the first record that he ever bought.

George Martin told Music Week magazine that the first time the Beatles played this to him, he wasn’t very impressed. He recalled: “I listened to it and I said: ‘Do you know that’s too bloody boring for words? It’s a dirge. At twice the speed it might sound reasonable.’ They took me at my word. I was joking and they came back and played it to me sped up and put a harmonica on it, and it became their first big hit.”

Lennon was a great fan of Bing Crosby and when in 1978, Yoko gave him a vintage ’50s Wurlitzer jukebox for his birthday he loaded the machine with as many 78-rpm records by the easy-listening vocalist as he could find.

This is Keith Richards’ favorite Beatles song. He told Jimmy Fallon: “I’ve always told McCartney, ‘Please Please Me.’ I just love the chimes, and I was there at the time and it was beautiful. Mind you, there’s plenty of others, but if I’ve got to pick one, ‘Please Please Me’… oh, yeah!”

Lennon-McCartney was the standard alphabetical credit for their Beatles songwriters compositions except on Please Please Me, where for reasons unknown, the names were reversed.

Please Please Me

Last night I said these words to my girl
I know you never even try, girl
Come on, come on, come on, come on
Please, please me, woah yeah, like I please you

You don’t need me to show the way, love
Why do I always have to say, love
Come on, come on, come on, come on
Please, please me, woah yeah, like I please you

I don’t want to sound complaining
But you know there’s always rain in my heart
I do all the pleasing with you,
It’s so hard to reason with you
Woah yeah, why do you make me blue?

Last night I said these words to my girl
I know you never even try, girl
Come on, come on, come on, come on
Please, please me, woah yeah, like I please you
Woah yeah, like I please you
Woah yeah, like I please you

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

13 thoughts on “Beatles – Please Please Me”

  1. Didn’t know how Martin changed the tempo of it…another example of how he really was the last piece of the puzzle for them. I’m not actually that fond of their real early work (for me it kicked in in a big way around ‘Rubber Soul’… of course, pretty much everything pre-Sgt. pepper was before i was born so that might be a factor) but this is probably the best of their first half dozen or so singles, to me at least.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I looked over the Billboard chart history and I think, personally , “And I Love Her” was the first single they put out that I would term great. but soon after that… they rarely made a misstep!


  2. Some controversy over this not being a Uk #1 single, as it topped pretty much every chart apart from the ‘official’ Record Retailer, back when the charts were surveys, rather than a precise count… Which is a shame, as I think this is better than ‘From Me To You’, their actual first #1.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: