A Taste Of Honey

Please Please Me album artworkWritten by: Scott-Marlow
Recorded: 11 February 1963
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 22 March 1963 (UK), 22 July 1963 (US)

Paul McCartney: vocals, bass
John Lennon: backing vocals, rhythm guitar
George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar
Ringo Starr: drums

Available on:
Please Please Me
Live At The BBC

A favourite of Paul McCartney’s, A Taste Of Honey was originally the theme tune for the 1961 film version of Shelagh Delaney’s play of the same name, starring Rita Tushingham.

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A Taste Of Honey had previously been recorded by a number of artists, mostly in instrumental versions. The Beatles adapted the arrangement from the first vocal version, released by Lenny Welch on 17 September 1962. They did, however, make some minor lyrical changes to the chorus – Welch’s version contains the lines “A taste of honey/A taste much sweeter than wine”.

While the wholesomeness of the song was to McCartney’s liking (similarities can be drawn with Besame Mucho and Till There Was You), its sentimental tone sat uneasily with the raw energy evident on songs such as Twist And Shout and I Saw Her Standing There.

It did, however, demonstrate The Beatles’ versatility as a group, something they were keen to push as they sought to establish a name for themselves. A Taste Of Honey was part of The Beatles’ live repertoire in 1962 and 1963.

A Taste Of Honey was one of my big numbers in Hamburg – a bit of a ballad. It was different, but it used to get requested a lot. We sang close harmonies on the little echo mikes, and we made a fairly good job of it. It used to sound pretty good, actually.
Paul McCartney
Anthology

The song was included on Please Please Me, and on the US LPs Introducing The Beatles and The Early Beatles. It was also one of four songs on The Beatles’ first UK EP, Twist And Shout, released on 12 July 1963.

In the studio

The Beatles recorded it on 11 February 1963, the day 10 songs were recorded for the Please Please Me album.

A Taste Of Honey was the first song recorded during the day’s afternoon session, which took place between 2.30pm and 6pm. They recorded five takes, and – following the recording of Do You Want To Know A Secret – Paul McCartney double-tracked his lead vocals, the only such instance on the Please Please Me album.

The overdub took the number of takes up to seven. Mono and stereo mixes were made on 25 February, without The Beatles being present in the studio.

BBC sessions

The Beatles recorded A Taste Of Honey seven times for BBC radio, one of which pre-dated the EMI version.

  • Here We Go; recorded 25 October 1962; first broadcast the following day.
  • Side By Side; recorded 1 April 1963; broadcast 13 May.
  • Pop Go The Beatles, episode three; recorded 1 June 1963; broadcast 6 June.
  • Easy Beat; recorded 19 June 1963; broadcast 23 June.
  • Beat Show; recorded 3 July 1963; broadcast the following day.
  • Pop Go The Beatles, episode six; recorded 10 July 1963; broadcast 23 July.
  • Pop Go The Beatles, episode 13; recorded 3 September 1963; broadcast 10 September.

The 10 July 1963 version for Pop Go The Beatles, recorded at the Aeolian Hall, London, was included on the 1994 collection Live At The BBC.

Lyrics

A taste of honey
Tasting much sweeter than wine

I dream of your first kiss and then
I feel upon my lips again

A taste of honey
Tasting much sweeter than wine

I will return, yes I will return
I’ll come back for the honey and you

Yours was the kiss that awoke my heart
There lingers still, though we’re far apart

That taste of honey
Tasting much sweeter than wine

Oh I will return, yes I will return
I’ll come back (he’ll come back)
For the honey (for the honey)
And you

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10 Responses to “A Taste Of Honey”

  1. Rob

    one of my favorite cover songs…. it’s just a weird piece but there’s something great about it… it’s hard to explain. i’ve always loved this song

    Reply
  2. Aaron Montefusco

    It always sounded to me like it was Ringo and Paul…idk why but the A Taste of Honey… part sounded like them.

    Reply
  3. Von Bontee

    I’ve always liked this one too, especially those descending guitarpeggios and the effortless way they switch from 3/4 to 4/4 during the bridge.

    Reply
  4. Zig

    This song always makes me smile. Those who were just boys when the Herb Alpert album featuring this song came out, know what I mean. I believe my fondness for whipped cream started at the same time!

    Reply
    • Von Bontee

      Ah yes, “Whipped Cream and Other Delights”, the all-time budget-bin classic! I think every used-record store in the Americas was legally required to have a scratched, dusty copy in stock. (I paid a quarter for my copy!)

      Reply
  5. M. Whitener

    I don’t know, this one doesn’t connect with me. It could be the placement on the album or the fact Paul’s vocal sounds a bit off on it. The background vocals overtake the lead a bit much for me too.

    Reply
  6. Howard Patterson

    Yes, that album cover was the sexiest thing my pre-adolescent brain had ever been exposed to. My best friend was Herb Alpert’s cousin, and at age 11 we got a tour of A&M studios, ending with meeting the Man himself. We shook hands, and his was the softest adult male hand I’d ever touched. The complete lack of callouses in part inspired me to take up a career in the arts.

    Reply
  7. pepperland

    George does sing in this which is surprising because you can’t hear him until the final section and in Take 6 you can’t hear him at all. If you want to hear his vocal, listen to the BBC version. If you listen really carefully, you can hear his voice above John’s for example at 1:19. So I guess that when they double-tracked Paul they also added the backing vocals or at least just George’s vocal but George was too far away from the mic on the takes or the mic wasn’t on which would also mean that they had already put on Johns vocal before or he had a different mic. So they probably didn’t notice that you couldn’t hear George until it was too late and the Beatles had left.

    Reply
  8. John K. Walker

    Dos anyone know which specific BBC version contains Paul’s singing the line (“No other lips may cling to mine…”) from Lenny Welch’s hit that The Beatles removed on their studio recordng? Because of this difference, this should have been the version released by EMI on the LIVE AT THE BBC album, if the fidelity was acceptable.

    Reply
  9. Tutu888

    I read somewhere (I believe it is in Mark Lewisohn’s book of all the recordings) that John changed the lyrics live to “A Waste of Money” to express his feelings about this song. Does anybody know this is true?

    Reply

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