There’s A Place

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

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

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

Available on:
Please Please Me
On Air - Live At The BBC Volume 2

The first song to be recorded at the 11 February 1963 session for the Please Please Me album, There's A Place was completed in 10 takes, apart from a harmonica overdub later that afternoon.

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There's A Place was my attempt at a sort of Motown, black thing. It says the usual Lennon things: 'In my mind there's no sorrow…' It's all in your mind.
John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The song was co-written by Lennon and McCartney in the latter's home at 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool. It was based loosely upon the song Somewhere from the West Side Story soundtrack album, a copy of which McCartney owned.

In our case the place was in the mind, rather than round the back of the stairs for a kiss and a cuddle. This was the difference with what we were writing: we were getting a bit more cerebral. We both sang it. I took the high harmony, John took the lower harmony or melody. This was a nice thing because we didn't actually have to decide where the melody was till later when they boringly had to write it down for sheet music.
Paul McCartney
Many Years from Now, Barry Miles

There's A Place encapsulates the drive and hunger of The Beatles in 1963. The song is full of the energy familiar to those who saw them live in Liverpool or Hamburg, and a sense of urgency and desire for success pervades the recording.

In the studio

The song was first recorded with another Lennon-McCartney composition - I Saw Her Standing There - on 11 February 1963, during the 10am-1pm morning session for Please Please Me. Recording took place in Studio Two at EMI Studios in Abbey Road, London.

The song was mostly completed in 10 takes. In the afternoon session, from 2.30-6pm, John Lennon overdubbed a harmonica part onto take 10. This addition was recorded in three attempts, with the final version becoming known as take 13.

14 responses on “There’s A Place

  1. M. Whitener

    There’s a lot of playing to their strengths here, the dual lead is McCartney singing high with Lennon almost just talking along with him until he breaks out & takes over the lead & Paul falls back into the harmony with George. The harmonica is extra on this song, and doesn’t have a real defining purpose in this song, but Ringo’s drumming is especially strong throughout.

      1. AutomaticButt

        I think it sounds like them both, compare with Baby’s In Black for example, very similar touches, like the relative minor (John), wide melody (Paul), elaborate chords (Paul) and unusual section lengths (John)

      2. James Ferrell

        +1

        I love this song. It was the B-side of the Twist and Shout single in the US (on Tollie Records). I always loved the harmonies on the verses.

        The middle eight sounds a little Motown-y to me but the verses sound like John and Paul.

    1. Richard Boene

      “Specious” means superficially plausible but ultimately untrue. So what your basically saying is that McCartney is wrong about being influenced by the song “Somewhere.” I have to ask you if you have any legitimate proof to back up your claim.

      If your only relying on Lennon’s quotes alone, I guarantee you’re not going to convince everyone here that your opinion is as close to the truth as can be got to.

      1. Martin

        I agree, Richard. Not necessarily wishing to paint present company with this brush, but there really is a certain kind of cool Lennon acolyte who would love to be able to airbrush McCartney entirely from Beatles history and we see the pattern very often. Personally I find it fascinating to observe in a ghastly sort of way and wonder what the psychological root of it is. It is a sort of wilful blinkering of vision, a self-destructive sickness really.There should be syndrome to name it by ;-)

        Anyway, in the case of There’s a Place, I find it very plausible that it owed something to Bernstein/Sondheim’s phrase “there’s a place for us” both lyrically and musically. I can very easily accept that Paul owned West Side Story and admired it (I am less sure that John would have done, and in later years Paul singled out Sondheim as an admired writer). The rising figure “[there] is a place” bears comparison to “there’s a place [for us]”, in my opinion, and I can easily imagine Paul playing with this phrase and the two of them saying “what place? where do they go?” and John (probably) snapping his fingers and saying, “In his mind! They’re not really going anywhere, are they?” “Yeah! That’s it!” and away they go…

    1. pepperland

      You can hear George singing a lower “aaah” harmony in the bridge; “don’t you know that it’s so” in octave with Paul; and the ending singing in three part harmony with John and Paul.

  2. Michael

    This is definitely co-written. John himself admitted to lying in many interviews, He contradicted himself constantly. He is not credible. He would admit Paul had been involved in writing a song in 1965 for example and by the early 70’s Paul’s participation according to John would have magically disappeared and be zero lol. It would be amusing that people place so much store in John’s quotes if they weren’t so in earnest.

    The song was written at Paul’s house, they were writing together. It is from the period when they ‘wrote up each others noses’. The song is inspired by one of Paul’s favorites from Westside Story a favorite musical which he owned.

    To suggest, the song was based on something special to Paul, written at Paul’s house, with Paul present, during a period when they were writing together but that he didn’t participate… now that is specious.

    1. Baggio

      Hmmm, I think you’re being unfair there.
      John wasn’t the only one who contradicted himself and I don’t think he was a liar.

      I think many of Paul’s remarks on how he contributed to John’s song are vague and confusing…
      If I Fell, for instance, he said that’s an example that John could write good ballads… Then he said they wrote it together… Then later he said he wrote it(!).

      Another one… John said he contributed to the middle eight in “And I Love Her”. Paul disagreed… But music publisher Dick James agreed with John that they both wrote it together.

      I don’t favour John nor Paul but they recorded a lot of songs, they did a lot of drugs etc. I’m sure they firmly believe on whatever they claim, but you can’t fully rely on the recollections of either one of them as there are obviously going to be mistakes.
      I don’t think John wrote Eleanor Rigby. I don’t think Paul wrote If I Fell.

      Was this co-written? We’ll likely never know, up to anyone to believe what they want. Or just accept they were two talented musicians and that in the end it doesn’t really matter!

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