Released: 18 March 1996 (UK), 19 March 1996 (US)
Although written by Lennon and McCartney for the Help! album, That Means A Lot remained unreleased until 1996, when it appeared on Anthology 2.
The song was mainly written by Paul McCartney, who sang lead vocals. With a drum pattern similar to Ticket To Ride‘s, and an arrangement plastered with tape echo and vibrato, on their first attempt The Beatles created a wall of sound arrangement quite unlike anything else they’d previously recorded.
The song is a ballad which Paul and I wrote for the film but we found we just couldn’t sing it. In fact, we made a hash of it, so we thought we’d better give it to someone who could do it well.
New Musical Express, 1965
That Means A Lot was given to American singer PJ Proby, who had become friends with the group after taking part in the TV special Around The Beatles in April 1964.
Released in September 1965, Proby’s version – slightly slower than The Beatles’, and with a string arrangement written and conducted by George Martin – reached number 30 in the UK singles chart.
In the studio
The Beatles attempted to record That Means A Lot on two separate occasions. The first was on 20 February 1965, just two days after they abandoned another Lennon-McCartney song, If You’ve Got Trouble.
The Beatles rehearsed the song four times, before recording a single take of the rhythm track, with McCartney on vocals and piano, Lennon and Harrison playing guitars and singing backing vocals, and Starr on drums. They then overdubbed more guitars and vocals.
Although the group briefly considered it suitable for the Help! album, a remake was begun on 30 March. Following a light-hearted swing run-through, they began with take 20, and recorded four attempts.
Take 20 of That Means A Lot was a country-rock performance, played slightly faster than the previous version, and transposed from E major up to G major. The following take was similar, though without the guitar flourishes previously added by Harrison.
For take 22 the group revived the original arrangement and key, performing it this way through to take 24. However, all the day’s attempts were incomplete, and The Beatles took the song no further.
The 20 February version of That Means A Lot was released in 1996 on Anthology 2. The second session’s attempts, however, are available only on unofficial bootleg releases.