How Do You Do It

Anthology 1 album artworkWritten by: Mitch Murray
Recorded: 4 September 1962
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 21 November 1995

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

Available on:
Anthology 1

The Beatles' producer George Martin wanted How Do You Do It to be The Beatles' debut single. They reluctantly recorded it, but eventually convinced Martin to release Love Me Do instead.

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It was common in those days to find material for artists by going to Tin Pan Alley and listening to the publishers' wares. That was a regular part of my life: I spent a lot of time looking for songs, and what I wanted for The Beatles was a hit. I was convinced that How Do You Do It was a hit song. Not a great piece of songwriting, not the most marvellous song I had ever heard in my life, but I thought it had that essential ingredient which would appeal to a lot of people.
George Martin
Anthology

How Do You Do It was by Mitch Murray, a budding English songwriter. George Martin's deputy Ron Richards first heard the demo, and suggested that an up-tempo version would be a chart success.

How Do You Do It was brought into my office by the man who wrote it, Mitch Murray, along with Barry Mason, later to write a number of hits himself. They offered me first option on the recording and played me Mitch's demonstration acetate. I liked it so much that I immediately called Dick James, the singer turned music publisher, and he signed the song up straightaway. But the acetate stayed in my desk for a long time after that. We didn't know who to give it to. Much later, when George was pondering about The Beatles' first record, I played him Mitch's acetate. He felt that it would be ideal for them and sent a copy to Liverpool right away so that they could learn their parts.
Ron Richards
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

At the time, Martin was unconvinced by the quality of Lennon and McCartney's own songwriting, just as he was unsure of Ringo Starr's drumming. Having taken a chance by agreeing to release a Beatles single, he was under an obligation as an EMI producer to ensure it sold well.

He knew it was a number one hit so he gave us it on a demo, a little white acetate. We took it back to Liverpool and said, 'What are we gonna do with this? This is what he wants us to do, he's our producer, we'll have to do it, we'll have to learn it.' So we did, but we didn't like it and we came back to George and said, 'Well it may be a number one but we just don't want this kind of song, we don't want to go out with that kind of reputation. It's a different thing we're going for, it's something new'. I suppose we were quite forceful really, for people in our position. And he understood. George later took our demo and played it to Gerry [and the Pacemakers] and said, 'They don't want it, it's a major hit, you do it,' and Gerry leapt at the chance. He kept it very similar in tempo to our version which was quite changed from the original demo because it was our arrangement, basically.
Paul McCartney
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles knew that their credibility as musicians, particularly in Liverpool, would be adversely affected by such a breezy pop song, and persuaded George Martin to release Love Me Do instead of How Do You Do It. Martin still considered releasing the song as the follow-up to Love Me Do, convinced of its potential.

In the first year, I had the final decision on songs, but they persuaded me to let them have their own songs on both sides of their first single. I was still thinking that we should release their recording of How Do You Do It. They said, 'Couldn't we do one of our own, Please Please Me?'
George Martin
Anthology

How Do You Do It was eventually released by Gerry and the Pacemakers in March 1963. The group's debut single, it topped the UK singles charts for three weeks, before being deposed by The Beatles' From Me To You.

The Beatles' version surfaced on bootlegs in the 1970s, and was eventually released in 1995 on Anthology 1.

At least there was some credibility in the fact it [Love Me Do] was a bluesy song rather than How Do You Do It. So that was it, we were started and our credibility as songwriters had started then.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

In the studio

Although The Beatles diligently recorded How Do You Do It on 4 September 1962, they didn't put too much effort into it. It was dashed off quickly at the start of the session, in order to spend more time on Love Me Do.

The session began at 7pm, following a studio rehearsal between 2.30 and 5.30pm. In that time they practised six songs, including How Do You Do It.

John took the lead. They didn't like doing it, but we made a good record.
George Martin
Anthology

It is unknown how many takes were recorded, but a mono mix was made later that evening, from take two. Martin made acetates of this and Love Me Do, so that he and Brian Epstein could decide the next day which song should be The Beatles' debut.

Lyrics

How do you do what you do to me?
I wish I knew
If I knew how you do it to me
I'd do it to you

How do you do what you do to me?
I'm feeling blue
Wish I knew how you do it to me
But I haven't a clue

You give me a feeling in my heart, ooh la la
Like an arrow passing through it
I suppose that you think you're very smart
But won't you tell me how do you do it?

How do you do what you do to me?
I wish I knew
If I knew how you do it to me
I'd do it to you

You give me a feeling in my heart, ooh la la
Like an arrow passing through it
I suppose that you think you're very smart
But won't you tell me how do you do it?

How do you do what you do to me?
I wish I knew
Wish I knew how you do it to me
But I haven't a clue
Wish I knew how you do it to me
I'd do it to you
Wish I knew how you do it to me
I'd do it to you

9 responses on “How Do You Do It

  1. Elsewhere Man

    The recording of “How Do You Do It” is a testament to how professional The Beatles were even at this early stage in their career. They didn’t like the song (with good reason) and yet they did a fantastic job recording what would easily have been their first #1 hit single as surely as it was for Gerry & The Pacemakers. Their version is naturally superior to the Pacemakers’…

  2. Bill

    I’d have to agree. Even though they didn’t care for it, I think the Beatles’ version is much better than Gerry and The Pacemakers’ version. Gerry’s version sounds a little forced & rushed to my ears.

  3. Rick

    This is a great song that should have been released years ago. Breezy pop song? They released Hello, Goodbye & Maxwell’s Silver Hammer which although very good songs, much more trite than How Do You Do It. What were the Beatles thinking?

  4. Peter

    I Have a 7 inch demo acetate of “love me do” on a white label typed with group name being “THE BEETLES”. It’s a 45rpm mono no year or other details except timing. I bought it from a London dj who bought it from a reputable London record store which said it had come from a customer in Liverpool who found it in a Liverpool pub. Which pub I don’t know, if story genuine I don’t know either. Trying to find some light on the matter.

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