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Paperback Writer
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4 June 2016
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sgtpepper63
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leoc said
MacDonald says

"Paperback Writer " offers a jokey lyric reflecting its era of classless ambition: the generation of 'young metors' who in the mid-Sixties rose from provincial and working-class backgrounds to dazzle the heights of British fashion, film and print.

as well as noting the lyrical connection to the Rubber Soul "comedy songs" ("Norwegian Wood ", "Drive My Car ", and "Day Tripper "). But I think this partly missed the point: it isn't only hot young mid-'Sixties fiction writers or photographers who fit the "Paperback Writer " portrait closely enough to be cut by the satire. An unheralded teenage nobody desperate for success as a lowbrow artist, naively eager to please, showing no obvious promise but mustard-keen to have a go at hacking out anything that could get his foot on the ladder: this is dangerously close to a jaded, unflattering portrait of Lennon and McCartney themselves as they were a few years previously, and there's surely no way that McCartney wasn't self-aware enough to realise it. Put that alongside the fact that it's closely related to "Drive My Car ", another song that takes a jab at fame-obsessed strivers, as well as the "based on a novel by a man named Lear" poke at Lennon himself, and the narrator of "Paperback Writer " looks like another Beatles alter ego to go with the Nowhere Man (a self-portrait of Lennon in his fat-Elvis phase), Sgt. Pepper 's club band, the animal-headed crew from "I Am The Walrus ", and the lounge singers in the "Your Mother Should Know " video.  

Did you just compare Drive My Car to something Weird Al would do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4 June 2016
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sgtpepper63
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Fun fact:

Paul played lead guitar on this one while George played bass, which technically means that there are two bass tracks in the song.

17 June 2016
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I recall Paperback Writer & Rain being a two A-Side hit. The bass exploded out of the box. The guitar work was waaay ahead of previous singles. Then there's the echo bit into reverb. The Frere Jacques took awhile to figure out...What are they singing there? That was a Paul doozie, cheerful & jangly.

Then on the other side was Rain with its prominent drone sound, Ringo's best drumming (no more steady ride the cymbols rock), and John's offer of a bit of philosophy, and the backwards part. NObody had done THAT before! We were stunned and joyful.

It really did reach out towards Revolver and beyond. Of course I was only 15 and easily impressed by genius. LOL! But I remember this single being a whole new direction (neither side was a love song) for the Lads. I'm glad I was there. Maybe, in this case, you HAD to be there!

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17 June 2016
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sgtpepper63 said
Fun fact:

Paul played lead guitar on this one while George played bass, which technically means that there are two bass tracks in the song.  

How does Paul on guitar and George on bass make two bass tracks? ahdn_paul_06

It verges from the sublime to the ridiculote

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17 June 2016
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sigh butterfly
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SaxonMothersSon said
I recall Paperback Writer & Rain being a two A-Side hit. The bass exploded out of the box. The guitar work was waaay ahead of previous singles. Then there's the echo bit into reverb. The Frere Jacques took awhile to figure out...What are they singing there? That was a Paul doozie, cheerful & jangly.

Then on the other side was Rain with its prominent drone sound, Ringo's best drumming (no more steady ride the cymbols rock), and John's offer of a bit of philosophy, and the backwards part. NObody had done THAT before! We were stunned and joyful.

It really did reach out towards Revolver and beyond. Of course I was only 15 and easily impressed by genius. LOL! But I remember this single being a whole new direction (neither side was a love song) for the Lads. I'm glad I was there. Maybe, in this case, you HAD to be there!  

Cool, I was almost 13 when the single was released and could not stop listening. One thing though @SaxonMothersSon, when I look back I don't remember treating the songs as individual efforts. It was always the Beatles. I loved the Lennon-McCartney writing credit and never gave it any thought who might be the driving force behind a particular song. Of course (kind of sadly) that's impossible to do now...

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21 June 2016
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sgtpepper63 said
Fun fact:

Paul played lead guitar on this one while George played bass, which technically means that there are two bass tracks in the song.  

I know Paul played some lead on this song, but what is your source that says George played bass? Every reliable source I've read says Paul played bass - Joe's article, Lewisohn's ...Recording Sessions, etc....

Granted, pictures appeared in an issue of Beatles Monthly that showed George mucking around on a blue bass guitar during those sessions. But, as Babiuk wrote in Beatles Gear, it was never seen or heard from again - most likely just an experiment as it never made it to the final record.

If you have a reliable source that says otherwise, we could definitely use it. Thanks in advance.

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23 June 2016
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Paperback Writer reached No.1 in Uk , 50 years ago today 🙂 

'Put music to our troubles and we'll dance them away..." 

23 June 2016
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I would have bought it!

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18 August 2016
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I believe I read in Geoff Emerick's book that he tried a new method for recording Paul's bass on this song. He used a large amplifier as a microphone by reversing the signal and placed it facing Paul's bass amp. The idea was to try to emulate the bass sounds which Motown achieved on their records. They also put Paul's bass quite high in the mix. You can really hear the different sound when compared to earlier recordings. 

 

I also remember reading Jimmy Saville's account of him asking Paul if he could write a song about anything. He then picked up a book which was lying around and came up with the idea for Paperback Writer (If I remember correctly). I'm not 100% convinced about this account but thought I'd add it.

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18 August 2016
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fabbeatlebooks said
 I also remember reading Jimmy Saville's account of him asking Paul if he could write a song about anything. He then picked up a book which was lying around and came up with the idea for Paperback Writer (If I remember correctly). I'm not 100% convinced about this account but thought I'd add it.  

I thought one of Paul's aunts asked him to write a song not focusing on love/romance. So he wrote Paperback Writer to please her. 

I am you as you are you as you are you and you are all together. 

18 August 2016
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fabbeatlebooks said 

I also remember reading Jimmy Saville's account of him asking Paul if he could write a song about anything. He then picked up a book which was lying around and came up with the idea for Paperback Writer (If I remember correctly). I'm not 100% convinced about this account but thought I'd add it.  

Evangeline said

I thought one of Paul's aunts asked him to write a song not focusing on love/romance. So he wrote Paperback Writer to please her.   

This morning on Beatles For Breakfast, the host said Paul wrote the song after reading a story in The Daily Mail about a guy who was aspiring to be a novelist. Another Beatles mystery. I love being a Beatles fan. So many stories, myths, legends, theories...

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18 August 2016
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Ron Nasty
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@Leppo said
I also remember reading Jimmy Saville's account of him asking Paul if he could write a song about anything. He then picked up a book which was lying around and came up with the idea for Paperback Writer (If I remember correctly). I'm not 100% convinced about this account but thought I'd add it.

@Evangeline said
I thought one of Paul's aunts asked him to write a song not focusing on love/romance. So he wrote Paperback Writer to please her. 

There is indeed a Savile version of the story of the song's origin, and Evangeline's memory is connected to Savile account.

According to him, an aunt asked Paul if he could "write a single that wasn't about love. With that thought obviously still in his mind, he walked around the room and noticed that Ringo was reading a book. He took one look and announced that he would write a song about a book."

@Zig said
This morning on Beatles For Breakfast, the host said Paul wrote the song after reading a story in The Daily Mail about a guy who was aspiring to be a novelist. Another Beatles mystery. I love being a Beatles fan. So many stories, myths, legends, theories...

But, as you've said, Zig, Paul remembers it differently in Many Years from Now, recalling coming up with the idea in prep for a writing session with John out in Weybridge:

You knew, the minute you got there, cup of tea and you'd sit and write, so it was always good if you had a theme. I'd had a thought for a song and somehow it was to do with the Daily Mail so there might have been an article in the Mail that morning about people writing paperbacks. Penguin paperbacks was what I really thought of, the archetypal paperback.

I arrived at Weybridge and told John I had this idea of trying to write off to a publishers to become a paperback writer, and I said, 'I think it should be written like a letter.' I took a bit of paper out and I said it should be something like 'Dear Sir or Madam, as the case may be...' and I proceeded to write it just like a letter in front of him, occasionally rhyming it. And John, as I recall, just sat there and said, 'Oh, that's it,' 'Uhuh,' 'Yeah.' I remember him, his amused smile, saying, 'Yes, that's it, that'll do.' Quite a nice moment: 'Hmm, I've done right! I've done well!' And then we went upstairs and put the melody to it. John and I sat down and finished it all up, but it was tilted towards me, the original idea was mine. I had no music, but it's just a little bluesy song, not a lot of melody. Then I had the idea to do the harmonies and we arranged that in the studio.

Myself, for what it's worth, I prefer Paul's account to that of Savile.

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27 April 2017
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This is really such a great song it's a shame I only learned to love it recently. 

Everything just works in this song: the fantastic bassline and the chord the rhythm guitar plays after the first and the third beat is really giving the song an edge. Then there are the amazing harmony vocals, of course and the lyrics. Not long ago I was looking the lyrics up when I suddenly noticed it said 'Frere Jacques' at some point. Completely puzzled I listened to Paperback Writer again and there they were! I've never noticed they've included a well-known children's song!paul-mccartney-facepalm_gif

But that's just another one of these little jokes The Beatles have left all over their discography and every time you find one it makes you smile. Another reason to love the Fab Four!

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27 April 2017
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I was thinking about who played guitar on this song, most sources claim that it was George and Paul with George overdubbing some fills, whereas beatlesebooks says that it was John and Paul, as well as photographic evidence suggesting John and Paul, so I thought to myself, what if all 3 of them play guitar on the song, John and Paul playing on the backing track while George overdubs some fills, it seems to make perfect sense. Is my theory rubbish or do you guys think that I'm on to something.

Here's my theory for the instrumentation of the song by the way:

Paul McCartney : Lead and Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar (1962 Epiphone ES-230TD Casino), Bass Guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S)

John Lennon : Rhythm Guitar (1963 Gretsch 6120 Nashville), Backing Vocals

George Harrison : Lead Guitar (1964 Gibson SG Standard), Backing Vocals, Tambourine

Ringo Starr : Drums

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28 April 2017
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Where did you find that George played tambourine?

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28 April 2017
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What I assumed at first was that George switched from playing bass to tambourine but after a closer look at this picture and I realized something:

nusonic5gw.jpgImage Enlarger

The tambourine is on a stand, which I didn't realize was possible until now because I thought tambourines were meant for shaking. This means that Ringo could've played the tambourine on the backing track with the drums. After noticing that, I realized George didn't play the tambourine and that I had made a mistake and that all 3 Beatles played guitar on the backing track until I noticed this picture.

revolver1.jpgImage Enlarger

As you can see, you can notice the bass drum and the tabla from the above picture in this one which makes me believe that this picture was taken during the Paperback Writer sessions and it looks like George is overdubbing some fills while Paul is working out his bass part, here's a rough composite of the 2 shots.

composite.pngImage Enlarger

As you can see everything looks the same except that George removed his hat and one of the amps have been moved, The Beatles are even all wearing the same shirts, even after looking at Paul do his bass overdub.

f2ef73343f27a7e2d82f6ab4ab27b75e.jpgImage Enlarger

Since there is only 1 bass part in this song, it's my guess that what you see through the run thru is what was on the backing track, although they recorded George's bass part through DI with the intent of it being overdubbed later by Paul, with this being the updated instrumentation:

Paul McCartney : Lead and Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar (1962 Epiphone ES-230TD Casino), Bass Guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S)

John Lennon : Rhythm Guitar (1963 Gretsch 6120 Nashville), Backing Vocals

George Harrison : Lead Guitar (1964 Gibson SG Standard), Backing Vocals, Bass Guitar (1966 Burns Nu-Sonic)

Ringo Starr : Drums, Tambourine

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Since others have also mentioned the strange appearance of a bunch of promotional videos on YouTube, here's the one from Paperback Writer . Hilarious in every way due to the apparent influence of some substances...

(I humbly apologise if it isn't appropriate to post it here.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....fwq3MyBvYw

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20 August 2019
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Did you just compare Drive My Car to something Weird Al would do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  

Well, first, the 'comedy songs' label wasn't my idea: MacDonald was sure he remembered seeing the Beatles themselves use it in an (almost certainly) 1965 Melody Maker interview, though he wasn't able to find the interview itself. (See his "Norwegian Wood " entry.) If the Beatles did say it, they were definitely being a bit facetious, but it's also pretty accurate. And it's not as if Weird Al is the only example of someone combining pop songs with comedy: it's been done by many people in all kinds of different ways, from Chuck Berry to the Bonzo Dog Band to Dylan to Lewis Carroll to the Goons to ...

Supposedly there's an old joke that in Hollywood everyone wants to be someone else. Writers want to direct; directors want to act; actors also want to direct (no-one wants to write, of course ...!) I think the Beatles had a case of that too. They were likely the world's best pop songwriters at that time, and mostly strong instrumentalists too, but it seems that they had a longing to be successful as comedians, especially once the first thrill of making it big as rockers had worn off. Comedy's a big aspect of the things they did from about mid-'65, especially before and after their peak acid phase, and in 1964 there's already "I'm A Loser " and "Baby's In Black ". And it was always there as a sidelight to the music: see In His Own Write, the A Hard Day's Night film, the Christmas recordings, and their in-person banter. From about '65 they're integrating the two. It's often off-kilter comedy, more like the Goons than a rat-a-tat stand-up joker or Weird Al filk, but still very much comedy.

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I was watching a documentary a couple years ago, and they were interviewing David Crosby. He made a comment like "I'd write some thing that I was really proud of, then the Beatles would come along with 'Paperback Writer ' and I'd think 'aw man, I'm terrible'" or something to that effect. 

One thing I thoroughly enjoy is listening to major artists of that time talking about how they felt in light of what else was going on. We tend to think of them all standing on the pantheon together but there was indeed a hierarchy (Beatles at the top) and even major bands like the Rolling Stones truly felt like they were always looking up at them. 

Not to mention what it must have felt like for the Beatles to be at the top and feel, despite their confidence and talent, the pressures that go with that. That's the one thing I am amazed they never seem to talk about - any fear about having to continue always at that level. Maybe they were just too proud to talk about it or truly were so confident that they didn't think about their rep or the need to have another hit.

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