Please Please Me album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 11, 20 February 1963
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 22 March 1963 (UK), 10 January 1964 (US)

Available on:
Please Please Me

On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2


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

The second song on the Please Please Me album, Misery was written by Lennon and McCartney during The Beatles’ tour with Helen Shapiro in late January 1963.

It was kind of a John song more than a Paul song, but it was written together.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

They began writing it backstage before The Beatles’ performance at the King’s Hall, Stoke-on-Trent on 26 January, later completing at McCartney’s family home at 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool.

It was our first stab at a ballad and had a little spoken preface. It was co-written. I don’t think either of us dominated on that one, it was just a job, you could have called us hacks, hacking out a song for someone.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

The Beatles originally hoped the song would be recorded by Shapiro herself, but her manager Norrie Paramor considered the lyrics unsuitable.

She turned it down. It may not have been that successful for her because it’s a rather downbeat song. It was quite pessimistic.
Paul McCartney

Instead, they gave it to singer/actor Kenny Lynch, who was on the same tour. As a result, Lynch became the first performer to cover a Lennon-McCartney composition.

He was another lad with an eye for an opportunity, and he had a minor hit with it. He used to do it on tour with us… not amazingly well.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

In the studio

The Beatles recorded Misery in 11 takes during their marathon 11 February 1963 session, in which the bulk of Please Please Me was put to tape.

The song was recorded with the tapes running at double speed – 30 inches per second – to allow for a piano overdub to be laid down at the slower speed at a later date. This was added on 20 February by George Martin, without The Beatles being present.