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Melody or lyrics, which was first?
15 August 2016
5.58pm
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Oudis
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Hello BeatleBiblers, I’d like to start a thread to discuss the process through which the songs of The Lads were created. My guess, being a songwriter myself, is that in many cases melody and lyrics were written at the same time; the song appearing in the songwriter’s mind as a whole. However I do know, for instance, that All My Loving was composed lyrics first, music later (Paul playing the piano and finding a melody to accompany the words) Shall we discuss this topic here, so that we have all the information in one place? What do we know about this? Cheers, Oudis.

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Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit” (“Perhaps one day it will be a pleasure to look back on even this”; Virgil, The Aeneid, Book 1, line 203, where Aeneas says this to his men after the shipwreck that put them on the shores of Africa)

16 August 2016
4.18am
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Leppo
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I also dabble in songwriting. You are right about All My Loving and I might be wrong but I think I heard Paul say this was the first and only time he worked this way. He wrote the lyrics on a tour bus and later wrote the music and melody around it.

I believe the way John Paul and George wrote their songs was to come up with a chord sequence on guitar or piano followed by a melody or occasionally chords and melody at the same time. They would often sing the melody to some temporary or gobbledegook lyrics and work to improve the words later. Hence the story about Paul coming up with the line "The movement you need is on your shoulder" for Hey Jude which he was intending on replacing. Not saying this was always the process but my belief is that was the general method, which is also how I like to work. I think with In My Life John started with a lyrical theme. I'll see if I can think of any other variations for songs.

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Oudis

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16 August 2016
4.49am
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Shamrock Womlbs
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I think John went, mostly, lyrics first and then the melody. That is the main reason why most of his songs have those signature changes. 

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16 August 2016
5.20am
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Starr Shine?
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Paul is more a melody guy, Yesterday was melody first.

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16 August 2016
9.33am
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William Shears Campbell
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@Starr Shine? said
Paul is more a melody guy, Yesterday was melody first.  

Scrambled eggsa-hard-days-night-paul-11

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16 August 2016
11.09am
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Ahhh Girl
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In his song, It's Not True, Paul sings "If she helps me write the melody / I'll let the words take care of themselves". That seems to be a comment on his songwriting style.

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16 August 2016
12.09pm
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limitlessundyinglove
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Shamrock Womlbs said
I think John went, mostly, lyrics first and then the melody. That is the main reason why most of his songs have those signature changes.   

This seems correct for me.  I remember reading somewhere (probably on this sitea-hard-days-night-george-10) that John repeated the words "sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun" over and over again until a melody came to him.  As for Paul, I'm willing to bet he did the melody first most of the time.

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Oudis

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16 August 2016
2.40pm
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Oudis
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You’re right @William Shears Campbell, it was “scrambled eggs” until George Martin told him it was too good a melody to have silly lyrics. And yes, @Leppo, In My Life was written lyrically first, John was trying to write about his memories from Liverpool. Somewhere in this site there’s a photo of the original manuscript –very different from the final lyrics.

Thanks to you all for posting replies in this thread 🙂

Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit” (“Perhaps one day it will be a pleasure to look back on even this”; Virgil, The Aeneid, Book 1, line 203, where Aeneas says this to his men after the shipwreck that put them on the shores of Africa)

16 August 2016
3.13pm
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Ron Nasty
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Oudis said
[snip] And yes, fabbeatlebooks, In My Life was written lyrically first, John was trying to write about his memories from Liverpool. Somewhere in this site there’s a photo of the original manuscript –very different from the final lyrics.

Thanks to you all for posting replies in this thread 🙂  

If interested in the original lyric of In My Life @Leppo, I explore it in depth here in posts 1 & 13, going through the places which John mentions.

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16 August 2016
4.33pm
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Leppo
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Thanks @Ron Nasty  I just had a good read through it. I'll leave a comment on the other thread so not to go off topic.

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Pivotal Moments in Beatles History No.118:  Yoko helps herself to one of George's digestives. 

2 September 2016
6.29pm
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Oudis
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limitlessundyinglove said

[...] I remember reading somewhere (probably on this site) that John repeated the words "sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun" over and over again until a melody came to him. 

@limitlessundyinglove 

I’ve just read, yes, in the “Songs” section of the BB, that I Am The Walrus was a composite of three song fragments. The first part was inspired by a two-note police siren John heard while at home in Weybridge; it became the “Mister city policeman sitting pretty little policemen in a row.” The third part, as you said, started from the phrase "sitting in an English country garden" which, according to Davies, John repeated to himself until a melody came. So you have a first part that was inspired by a sound (and the melody came first) and a middle part the lyrics of which were written first. It’s such a complex song that the process of composing it must have been complex as well. Cheers, Oudis.

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Leppo

Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit” (“Perhaps one day it will be a pleasure to look back on even this”; Virgil, The Aeneid, Book 1, line 203, where Aeneas says this to his men after the shipwreck that put them on the shores of Africa)

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