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"Love Me Do" is an early Lennon/McCartney song, principally written by Paul McCartney in 1958–59 while playing truant from school. John Lennon wrote the middle eight. The song was The Beatles' first single, backed by "P.S. I Love You" and released on 5 October 1962. When the single was originally released in the UKmarker, it peaked at number seventeen; in 1982 it was re-issued and reached number four. In the U.S.marker the single was a number one hit in 1964.

Recording

"Love Me Do" begins with bluesy harmonica played by John Lennon, then features Lennon and McCartney on joint lead vocals. McCartney sings the solo vocal line on the song's title phrase and also its middle eight. Lennon had previously sung the title sections, but this change in arrangement was made in the studio under the direction of producer George Martin when he realised that the harmonica part encroached on the vocal (Lennon needed to begin playing the harmonica again on the same beat as the "do" of "love me do"). This is illustrative of the live characteristics of this particular session - as, when a similar situation later occurred on the "Please Please Me" single session, the harmonica was superimposed afterwards using tape-to-tape overdubbing.

"Love Me Do" was recorded by The Beatles on different occasions with three different drummers:
  • The Beatles first recorded it on 6 June 1962 with Pete Best on drums, as part of their audition at EMI Studios at 3 Abbey Roadmarker, Londonmarker. This version (previously thought to be lost) is available on Anthology 1.
  • By 4 September, Best had been replaced with Ringo Starr (producer George Martin did not approve of Best's drumming), and on that day The Beatles with Starr recorded a version again at EMI Studios.
  • One week later, on 11 September, The Beatles returned to the same studio and they made a recording of "Love Me Do" with session drummer Andy White on drums while Starr played tambourine. As the tambourine was not included on the 4 September recording, this is the easiest way to distinguish between the Starr and White recordings.


First issues of the single, however, did feature the Ringo Starr version, which was also included much later on the compilation albums Rarities (American version) and Past Masters, Volume One.The Andy White version of the track was included on The Beatles' debut UK album, Please Please Me, The Beatles' Hits EP, and all subsequent album releases on which "Love Me Do" was included.For the 1976 single re-issue and the 1982 "20th Anniversary" re-issue, the Andy White version was used.The CD single issued on 2 October 1992 contains both versions. The Pete Best version remained unreleased until 1995, when it was included on the Anthology 1 album.

"Love Me Do", featuring Starr drumming, was also recorded eight times at the BBC and played on the BBC radio programmes Here We Go, Talent Spot, Saturday Club, Side By Side, Pop Go The Beatles and Easy Beat between October 1962 and October 1963. The version of "Love Me Do" recorded on 10 July 1963 at the BBC and broadcast on the 23 July 1963 Pop Go The Beatles programme can be heard on The Beatles album Live at the BBC. The Beatles also performed the song live on the 20 February 1963 Parade of the Pops BBC radio broadcast.

In 1969, during the Get Back sessions, The Beatles played the song in a slower, more bluesy form than they had in earlier recordings. This version of "Love Me Do" is one of many recordings made during these sessions and subsequently appeared on some bootlegs. The song featured no harmonica by Lennon, and McCartney sang the majority of the song in the same vocal style he used for "Lady Madonna".

Background information

On 4 September 1962, Brian Epstein paid for the group to fly down from Liverpoolmarker to Londonmarker. They arrived at EMI Studiosmarker on Abbey Road in the early afternoon, where they set up their equipment in Studio 3 and began rehearsing "Please Please Me", "Love Me Do" and a song originally composed for Adam Faith by Mitch Murray called "How Do You Do It?" that George Martin wanted them to try, and which he expected would be their first single. To a large extent, George Martin had decided to sign The Beatles on the strength of their charisma: "It wasn't a question of what they could do [as] they hadn't written anything great at that time." "But what impressed me most was their personalities. Sparks flew off them when you talked to them".The Beatles were keen to record their own material, but Martin felt that unless they could write something as commercial as "How Do You Do It?" then the Tin Pan Alleymarker practice of having the group record songs by professional songwriters (which was and still is common) would be employed. During the course of an evening session (7:00 pm to 10:00 pm in Studio 2) they recorded "How Do You Do It" and "Love Me Do". An attempt at "Please Please Me" was made, but at this stage it was quite different to its eventual treatment, and it was dropped by Martin. This was a disappointment for the group as they had hoped it would be the B-side to "Love Me Do".

It was on the 4 September session that, according to McCartney, Martin suggested using a harmonica. However, Lennon's harmonica part was present on the Anthology 1 version of the song recorded during the 6 June session. Also, Martin's own recollection of this is different, saying: "I picked up on 'Love Me Do' because of the harmonica sound", adding: "I loved wailing harmonica — it reminded me of the records I used to issue of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. I felt it had a definite appeal." Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee would be an influence on Bob Dylan, who, in turn, would later influence The Beatles.

Lennon had learned to play a chromatic harmonica that his Uncle George (late husband of his Aunt Mimi) had given to him as a child. But the instrument being used at this time was one stolen by Lennon from a music shop in Arnhemmarker, the Netherlandsmarker, in 1960, as The Beatles first journeyed to Hamburgmarker by road. Lennon would have had this with him at the EMI audition as Bruce Channel's "Hey Baby", with its harmonica intro (a hit in the UK in March 1962) was one of the 33 songs The Beatles had prepared. Brian Epstein had in fact booked American Bruce Channel to top a NEMS Enterprises promotion at New Brightonmarker's Tower Ballroom on 21 June 1962, just a few weeks after "Hey Baby" had charted, with The Beatles a prestigious second on the bill. Lennon was particularly impressed with Channel's harmonica player, Delbert McClinton and later approached him for advice on how to play the instrument. The harmonica was to become a feature of The Beatles' early records such as "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me" and "From Me to You". Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones asked Lennon in April of 1963 if Lennon was using a blues harp on "Love Me Do", Lennon replied: "A harmonica...y'know, with a button!" and told Jones he used a chromatic.

Martin came very close to issuing "How Do You Do It?" as The Beatles first single before deciding instead on "Love Me Do", as a mastered version of it was made ready for release (and which still exists to this day). Martin commented later: "I looked very hard at 'How Do You Do It?', but in the end I went with 'Love Me Do', it was quite a good record." McCartney would remark: "We knew that the peer pressure back in Liverpool would not allow us to do 'How Do You Do It'."

Martin then decided that as "Love Me Do" was going to be the group's debut single it needed to be re-recorded as he was unhappy with the original drum sound (Abbey Road's Ken Townsend also recalls McCartney being dissatisfied with Starr's timing). Record producers at that time were used to hearing the bass drum "lock in" with the bass guitar as opposed to the much looser R & B feel that was just beginning to emerge, and so professional show band drummers were often used for recordings. Ron Richards, in charge for the 11 September re-recording session, booked Andy White, whom he had used in the past. Whether this solved the problem is unclear though as session engineer Norman Smith was to comment: "It was a real headache trying to get a [good] drum sound, and when you listen to the record now you can hardly hear the drums at all." George Martin remarked later that he never intended to offend either Best or Starr by employing a session drummer.

"P.S. I Love You" was recorded first; initially it was a contender for the A-side but was ruled out as there was another song with the same title by Peggy Lee. On this Starr was asked to play the maracas. "Love Me Do" was then recorded with White playing drums and Starr on tambourine. However, early pressings of the single are the 4 September version—minus tambourine—with Starr playing drums. But later pressings of the single, and the version used for the Please Please Me album, are the 11 September re-record with Andy White on drums and Starr on tambourine. This difference has become fundamental in telling the two recordings of "Love Me Do" apart. Regarding the editing sessions that then followed all these various takes, Ron Richards remembers the whole thing being a bit fraught, saying: "Quite honestly, by the time it came out I was pretty sick of it. I didn't think it would do anything."

  • In his 2005 biography of the group, Bob Spitz wrote that Epstein tried to help make Love Me Do a hit in England by buying 10,000 copies of the single for his Liverpool record store. This story had been told previously in several other Beatles-related books, but has never been verified. In addition, during an interview clip on the 2009 documentary The Beatles: On Record, Lennon specifically denies the allegation.
  • There are only two Lennon & McCartney songs that John Lennon's estate and Paul McCartney wholly own: "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You". This is because until Dick James had set up their own publishing company, Northern Songs, EMI had placed The Beatles' first two (released) recordings with their own in-house publishers, Ardmore and Beechwood. Brian Epstein however, was dissatisfied with the lack of promotion EMI gave the single, and through George Martin (who later declined an offer by Brian Epstein on ethical grounds of a percentage of Northern Songs) was introduced to ex-singer Dick James, whom Martin had once produced. Later, Lennon and McCartney were able to buy back ownership of these two titles which have always remained separate from Lennon & McCartney's main catalogue of material.
  • #1 on US charts (30 May 1964), Top 100 for 14 weeks. When it entered the charts, it was due to sales of imported copies from Canada with Starr on drums. On 27 April, 1964 it was released in the USA by Vee-Jay Records on the Tollie label with White on drums.


Ron Richards

There are major discrepancies regarding the White session, and who actually produced it. In his book Summer of Love Martin concedes that his version of events differs from some accounts, saying: "On the 6 June Beatles' session (audition) I decided that Pete Best had to go [and said to Epstein] I don't care what you do with Pete Best; but he's not playing on any more recording sessions. I'm getting a session drummer in." When Starr turned up with the group for their first proper recording session on 4 September, Martin says that he was totally unaware that The Beatles had fired Best. And, not knowing "how good bad or indifferent" Starr was, was not prepared to "waste precious studio time finding out." Martin, therefore, has this as the White session in which Martin was present, and not 11 September. This definitely contradicts Mark Lewisohn's account, as in his book The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, he has Starr on drums on 4 September and White for the 11 September re-make. Lewisohn also says that Richards was in charge on 11 September, which means, if accurate, that Richards was sole producer of the White version of "Love Me Do". Martin says, "My diary shows that I did not oversee any Beatles recording sessions on 11 September - only the one on 4 September." But, if Lewisohn's account is correct and "the 4 September session really hadn't proved good enough to satisfy George Martin," it might seem odd that Martin was not then present for the 11 September re-make.

In his memoirs, assistant engineer Geoff Emerick supports the Lewisohn version, recounting that Starr played drums at the 4 September session (Emerick's second day at EMI!), and that Martin, Smith and McCartney were all dissatisfied with (the under rehearsed) Starr's timekeeping. Emerick places White firmly at the second session, and describes the reactions of Mal Evans and Starr to the substitution. Emerick also noted that Martin only came in very late in the 11 September session, after work on "Love Me Do" was complete.

Missing master tape

No original master tapes of the 4 September version of "Love Me Do" are known to exist. Standard procedure at Abbey Road Studios at the time was to erase the original two-track session tape for singles once they had been "mixed down" to the (usually monaural) master tape used to press records. This was the fate of two Beatles singles (four songs): "Love Me Do", "P.S. I Love You", "She Loves You", and "I'll Get You". However, at some point the mixdown master tape for this song was also lost, and apparently no backup copies had been made. Thus, for many years the only extant recorded copies were the red label Parlophone 45 rpm vinyl records pressed in 1962. This version was also issued in Canada as Capitol 72076.

By the time the tapes had disappeared, the song's 11 September 1962 remake featuring Andy White had been released. EMI would not have been too concerned about the loss of the 4 September take, therefore, as it was now considered obsolete, and they may not have anticipated ever having any use for it again anyway.

Around 1980, a reasonably clean, original 45 from EMI's archives was used as the "best available source" for the track's inclusion on the Capitolmarker compilation LP Rarities. A few years later, a new master tape was struck, this time using another, better-sounding 45 supplied by a record collector, and this has served as the official EMI master tape for the original "Love Me Do" ever since.

Quotations

In 1972, Lennon commented,

In 1982, McCartney remarked,

Similarly Starr in 1976 enthused,

Personnel

On the version released on single, Rarities and Past Masters, Volume One:

On the version released on single, Please Please Me, The Beatles' Hits and 1:
  • John Lennon – harmonica, joint lead vocal
  • Paul McCartney – bass, joint lead vocal
  • George Harrison – acoustic guitar
  • Ringo Starr – tambourine
  • Andy White – drums


On the Anthology 1 version:
  • John Lennon – harmonica, joint lead vocal
  • Paul McCartney – bass, joint lead vocal
  • George Harrison – electric guitar
  • Pete Best – drums


Recording and mixing details

  • 6 June 1962: an unknown number of takes recorded for what was most likely an artist test.
  • 4 September 1962: 15 takes recorded. Mono mixing of the song from an unknown take number.


Cover versions

"Love Me Do" has been covered by (among others):

In pop culture

  • This song is referenced in Bad Company's song "Shooting Star" in the lyric "Love Me Do I think it was and from there it didn't take him long".


Charts

Chart Year Peak
position
UK Singles Chart 1962 17
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1964 1
Canada CHUM Chart 1964 4
UK Singles Chart 1982 4


Notes

References



External links




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