The Beatles' song “Please Please Me,” which was released 50 years ago today on Jan. 11, 1963, was a huge step from “Love Me Do,” Alex Hendler, author of the ebook “Please Please Me,” told Beatles Examiner Friday.
“While 'Love Me Do' charted nicely in England, the 'Please Please Me' single was a quantum leap for the Beatles and pop music in general,” he told us. “It was a harbinger for how all the future Beatle hits would be crafted: John arrives in the studio and plays his newly written song with a pleasant, loping Roy Orbison rhythm; George Martin immediately recognizes its possibilities and suggests they "speed it up;" and the Beatles respond with a song that, once they put it on record, exploded from transistor radios like a cannon, waking up frigid ol' England during their coldest winter in over 200 years.”
John Lennon admitted the Orbison influence in an interview in 1980.
“‘Please Please Me’ is my song completely. It was my attempt at writing a Roy Orbison song, would you believe it? I wrote it in the bedroom in my house at Menlove Avenue, which was my auntie’s place. I heard Roy Orbison doing ‘Only The Lonely’ or something. That’s where that came from. And also I was always intrigued by the words of ‘Please Lend Your Ears To My Pleas,’ a Bing Crosby song. I was always intrigued by the double use of the word ‘please.’ So it was a combination of Bing Crosby and Roy Orbison,” he said.
Hendler says the chorus also gave the song a killer musical attraction for listeners. “The 'c'mon, c'mon' call-and-response bit leading up to the chorus, where Paul kicks it up an octave in his harmony with John, was very unique, and, ultimately, too irresistible of a hook,” Hendler said.
Journalist Ray Connolly admitted when he first heard "Please Please Me" it changed his mind about the group. In "The Ray Connolly Beatles Archive," the e-book chronology of his past writings on the group, he recalled, "Then in January 1963, I was in the sitting room of the hall of residence where I lived when, on its day of release, 'Please Please Me' came on the radio. I knew in the moment I heard that opening harmonica that I’d been wrong. Everything I’d been told about the Beatles had been true. They were different."
In addition to the musical advancement of the song, Gordon Thompson, author of “Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out,” says the song also put the Beatles in the British mainstream.
“'Although 'Love Me Do' had been the Beatles’ induction into Britain’s recording industry, 'Please Please Me' would bring them prominently into the nation’s consciousness. The songwriters, the band, the producer, and the manager all thought that they had finally found a winning formula. An advertisement in the New Musical Express proclaimed that the disc would be the 'record of the year,' even as it raised a chuckle among industry insiders; but the hyperbole would prove prophetic.”
As they finished recording it, George Martin prophetically told them, "Gentlemen, you have just made your first number one record."
Mark Lewisohn in “The Complete Beatles Chronicle” describes 1963, the year "Please Please Me" was released, as “the year it all went berserk.” He notes it only took six days after it was released for the song to debut on the British charts.
It was clear that nothing stopping the Beatles now.
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