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It took a long time for the band to get this right in the studio.
Definitely in the top five of Most Irritating Songs Paul Mc Cartney Ever Wrote.After hitting dead ends with all of the established British labels of the time, he put together a last-shot meeting with an exec at Parlophone, an overlooked division of the conglomerate EMI.The exec was named George Martin; he was really a producer, classically trained, who’d fashioned a career making hit comedy albums with the likes of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, and Peter Cook.It was a Lennon song from long after he’d left the Beatles; he sounded so vulnerable, and the studio work that had gone into making this distant-sounding, crummily recorded demo sound presentable felt like too big a burden for the martyred star to bear.His former songwriting partner, one Paul Mc Cartney, added six lines as a sort of bridge.Of the six lines, two were taken from a Shangri-Las song, and they weren’t particularly good ones, either. (1963): You keep waiting for a redeeming melody to rise to the surface, but it doesn’t come. The call-and-response chorus is labored; the whole thing reeks of having come from a squaresville Off Broadway musical about kids these days.
(“Whatever happened to / The love that we once knew? The weirdest thing about the song is how the title words come on a low note that Lennon doesn’t quite hit, a rarity for a band with such vocal precision from the start. The instrumentation is unusual; there are no actual Beatles playing on the track, but no one cares because the song is so bad.
After the first visit to Parlophone, Mc Cartney and Lennon went back to Liverpool and did what needed to be done. (1969): It’s possible George Harrison was the first pop star to attack his record label, or, in this case, his publishing company in a song.
With a professionalism they might not have possessed, they forthrightly confronted Rory Storm, the leader of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, a prominent Liverpool band, and told him they wanted to steal his drummer, who went by the name Ringo Starr. Band manager Brian Epstein had let many lucrative deals slip through his fingers; but particular concern was directed at Dick James, their song publisher, who made 1, 2, 10, 20 fortunes from this deal.
They didn’t fuss about it; it’s what they wanted to do. Mc Cartney’s piano playing, which graced so many Beatles songs, right up to “A Day in the Life,” is a parody of itself.
It’s the worst song in the Beatles’ classic period.
Note that the subject of the song is essentially the same as David Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” which does much more with it. “Real Love,” single (1995): This was another Lennon demo from the late 1970s, already known via the collection of outtakes and unreleased material. Docked 100 notches for grave robbing and general dishonesty.