A favourite song of Paul McCartney’s, ‘A Taste Of Honey’ was originally the theme tune for the 1961 film version of Shelagh Delaney’s play of the same name, starring Rita Tushingham.

‘A Taste Of Honey’ had previously been recorded by a number of artists, mostly in instrumental versions. The Beatles adapted the arrangement from the first vocal version, released by Lenny Welch on 17 September 1962. They did, however, make some minor lyrical changes to the chorus – Welch’s version contains the lines “A taste of honey/A taste much sweeter than wine”.

While the wholesomeness of the song was to McCartney’s liking (similarities can be drawn with ‘Besame Mucho’ and ‘Till There Was You’), its sentimental tone sat uneasily with the raw energy evident on songs such as ‘Twist And Shout’ and ‘I Saw Her Standing There’.

It did, however, demonstrate The Beatles’ versatility as a group, something they were keen to push as they sought to establish a name for themselves. ‘A Taste Of Honey’ was part of The Beatles’ live repertoire in 1962 and 1963.

‘A Taste Of Honey’ was one of my big numbers in Hamburg – a bit of a ballad. It was different, but it used to get requested a lot. We sang close harmonies on the little echo mikes, and we made a fairly good job of it. It used to sound pretty good, actually.
Paul McCartney

The song was included on Please Please Me, and on the US LPs Introducing The Beatles and The Early Beatles. It was also one of four songs on The Beatles’ first UK EP, Twist And Shout, released on 12 July 1963.

In the studio

The Beatles recorded ‘A Taste Of Honey’ on 11 February 1963, the day 10 songs were recorded for the Please Please Me album.

‘A Taste Of Honey’ was the first song recorded during the day’s afternoon session, which took place between 2.30pm and 6pm. They recorded five takes, and – following the recording of ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret’ – Paul McCartney double-tracked his lead vocals, the only such instance on the album.

The overdub took the number of takes up to seven. Mono and stereo mixes were made on 25 February, without The Beatles being present in the studio.

BBC sessions

The Beatles recorded ‘A Taste Of Honey’ seven times for BBC radio, one of which pre-dated the EMI version.

  • Here We Go – recorded 25 October 1962; first broadcast the following day.
  • Side By Side – recorded 1 April 1963; broadcast 13 May.
  • Pop Go The Beatles, episode three – recorded 1 June 1963; broadcast 6 June.
  • Easy Beat – recorded 19 June 1963; broadcast 23 June.
  • Beat Show – recorded 3 July 1963; broadcast the following day.
  • Pop Go The Beatles, episode six – recorded 10 July 1963; broadcast 23 July.
  • Pop Go The Beatles, episode 13 – recorded 3 September 1963; broadcast 10 September.

The 10 July 1963 version, recorded at the Aeolian Hall, London, was included on the 1994 collection Live At The BBC.


A taste of honey
Tasting much sweeter than wine

I dream of your first kiss and then
I feel upon my lips again

A taste of honey
Tasting much sweeter than wine

I will return, yes I will return
I’ll come back for the honey and you

Yours was the kiss that awoke my heart
There lingers still, though we’re far apart

That taste of honey
Tasting much sweeter than wine

Oh I will return, yes I will return
I’ll come back (he’ll come back)
For the honey (for the honey)
And you

Previous song: ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret’
Next song: ‘There’s A Place’
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