"Paperback Writer" lyrics

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Paperback Writer

‘Paperback Writer’ was a standalone single released in June 1966, written by Paul McCartney and recorded over two consecutive days during the Revolver sessions. The song ‘Rain’ was on the b-side.

‘Paperback Writer’ is son of ‘Day Tripper’ , but it is Paul’s song. Son of ‘Day Tripper’ meaning a rock ‘n’ roll song with a guitar lick on a fuzzy, loud guitar.

At the start of The Beatles’ career, Brian Epstein and George Martin had drawn up a plan of releasing four singles and two albums each year to sustain interest in the group and satisfy popular demand.

The release of ‘Paperback Writer’ came 27 weeks after its predecessor, ‘Day Tripper’/ ‘We Can Work It Out’ . It marked the end of the release plan, and saw The Beatles entering a phase where they were less motivated by commercial demands and more focused on musical development.

‘Paperback Writer’ was an attempt by McCartney to write a song based on a single chord – possibly influenced by Indian music, but most likely a result of their marijuana use; other songs from this period, notably ‘The Word’ , ‘If I Needed Someone’ , and ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ , were similarly modelled.

John and I would like to do songs with just one note like ‘Long Tall Sally’ . We got near it in ‘The Word’.

McCartney wrote ‘Paperback Writer’ after reading a Daily Mail report about an aspiring author, and composed it on the way to Lennon’s house in Weybridge.

You knew, the minute you got there, cup of tea and you’d sit and write, so it was always good if you had a theme. I’d had a thought for a song and somehow it was to do with the Daily Mail so there might have been an article in the Mail that morning about people writing paperbacks. Penguin paperbacks was what I really thought of, the archetypal paperback. I arrived at Weybridge and told John I had this idea of trying to write off to a publishers to become a paperback writer, and I said, ‘I think it should be written like a letter.’ I took a bit of paper out and I said it should be something like ‘Dear Sir or Madam, as the case may be…’ and I proceeded to write it just like a letter in front of him, occasionally rhyming it. And John, as I recall, just sat there and said, ‘Oh, that’s it,’ ‘Uhuh,’ ‘Yeah.’ I remember him, his amused smile, saying, ‘Yes, that’s it, that’ll do.’ Quite a nice moment: ‘Hmm, I’ve done right! I’ve done well!’ And then we went upstairs and put the melody to it. John and I sat down and finished it all up, but it was tilted towards me, the original idea was mine. I had no music, but it’s just a little bluesy song, not a lot of melody. Then I had the idea to do the harmonies and we arranged that in the studio.

‘Paperback Writer’ reflected the can-do attitude of mid-1960s British society; the lyrics can be seen in the same context as Rubber Soul ’s similarly light-hearted ‘Drive My Car’ . The backing vocals found The Beatles singing “Frère Jacques”, and the powerful four-part harmonies of the chorus were swathed in tape echo. It showed the band becoming more confident by the minute; musically, lyrically, and willing to exploit their position as the figureheads of popular culture.

Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for Paperback Writer

Paul was correct in thinking that interviews with musicians would enable IT [ International Times ] to get record-company ads, but the paper was still broke and often unable to pay the printer or its staff. Paul helped out financially, and was thanked by being given a credit in the staff box under the name of ‘Ian Iachimoe’. This was the ‘secret’ name that Paul suggested his friends use when writing to him to make their letters stand out from all the fan mail. It was the sound of his own name played backwards on a tape recorder. He even used it himself: the original manuscript of ‘Paperback Writer’, which was written in the form of a letter, ends with ‘Yours sincerely, Ian Iachimoe’. Paul was happy to lend a hand in laying out the paper and there was one evening when Paul, together with the Beat poet Harry Fainlight, took time out before dinner to draw a half-page psychedelic ad for Indica Books in order to meet the printer’s deadline the following morning. It was published in issue 16. Such were the times.

In the studio

‘Paperback Writer’ is most notable for its heavy bass line, played by Paul McCartney on a Rickenbacker in place of his usual Höfner. Its recording caused some headaches for the EMI technicians, who were subject to strict rules about how microphones and amplifiers should be used.

The song threw away the rulebook. A speaker was used as a microphone, positioned in front of the bass amp for extra boost. Then it was mastered using another Abbey Road invention – the Automated Transient Overload Control (ATOC), which allowed extra bass without risking the stylus jumping on playback.

‘Paperback Writer’ was the first time the bass sound had been heard in all its excitement. For a start, Paul played a different bass, a Rickenbacker. Then we boosted it further by using a loudspeaker as a microphone. We positioned it directly in front of the bass speaker and the moving diaphragm of the second speaker made the electrical current.

The Beatles began recording ‘Paperback Writer’ in the evening of 13 April 1966 , the day they also completed George Harrison ’s ‘Love You To’ .

It took them two takes to record the rhythm track; afterwards they added a series of overdubs. These continued on the following day , on which the distinctive backing vocals and bass were recorded.

‘Paperback Writer’ had a heavier sound than some earlier work – and very good vocal work, too. I think that was just the way it worked out, that the rhythm was the most important part of their make-up by this time.

McCartney played the lead guitar on an Epiphone Casino, and Harrison used a Gibson SG Standard guitar. They also used these instruments for ‘Rain’ and on much of Revolver .


Latest Comments

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First single where the subject matter is not a boy girl relationship.

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I thought Nowhere Man was their first single where the subject matter is not a boy girl relationship.

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I guess it depends which country you’re from. Nowhere Man wasn’t a single in the UK – none of the Rubber Soul songs were.

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From reading the article, I’m guessing this is a British post, and Nowhere Man was not a single there.

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Help! was a single worldwide, definately predates Paperback Writer, and (at least in my humble interpretation) isn’t necessarily a comment on a romantic relationship. In fact John has commented that he felt a little lost, overweight, and searching for meaning around this time.

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First #1 not about Love

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Just read this on Facebook – but its says here Lennon didn’t play Guitar?? – “John Lennon’s Gretsch 6120 guitar, the instrument the rock legend used when recording The Beatles’ 1966 classic “Paperback Writer,” will hit the auction block next month”

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someone paid over a millon for Ringos old drum set. the reason i like this song, is because of Pauls new Rick bass. it just kicks……… there are times now when i hear some of their older stuff and wish he had had that bass earlier in their carreer

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I know what you mean – the most pressing problem that Paul had with his Höfner bass was that it would go out of tune if he played higher on the fretboard, being a cheaper instrument and his 1962 model was made before Höfner introduced truss rods.

I guess it never occurred to him to send it to a London guitar shop to get the problem fixed.

He had actually started using his Rickenbacker bass during the “Rubber Soul” sessions and evidently, he came to love this new bass over the course of the album’s production, using it on most of the tracks, namely “Drive My Car”, “Michelle”, “The Word”, “You Won’t See Me”, “Think for Yourself” and “If I Needed Someone”.

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Paperback Writer Personnel Paul McCartney: Lead Vocals, Bass, Lead guitar John Lennon: Backing Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Tambourine George Harrison: Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar Ringo Starr: Drums

I think Ringo’s actually playing the tambourine, since the rehearsal photos showed one in his drum kit, but you are correct with the guitars and bass.

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according to a pic in Beatles Monthly, Paul played Casino guitar and George played Burns Nu-Sonic bass on the original rehearsels and maybe the early recordings

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Because a picture of George was taken hold ing a differnent instrument than what he usually played is ardly solid evidence that he played that instrument on the final track.

Harrison was a multi-instrumentalist and probably picked up every instrument that was anywhere near him and played around with it during any given recording session/. He also played many different guitars throughout his life and was one of the pioneers of the 12 string electric in rock. his usew of the slide was distinctly all his own but reflected his smooth, subtle, approach to every instrument that he played.

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I saw that photo too. Im not too sure myself who play what between those two in the final cut. One thing i know is George played lead live, which is a given.

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George joined Paul by playing the guitar riff simultansly on the recording session. It can be heard well on inside – Revolver tracks. Nowdays, Paul and his bandmate are seen and heard playing together

You’re right – I have been listening to the instrumental track to “Paperback Writer” and there are evidently two lead guitars, obviously Paul and George like you said, and there’s also a tremolo electric guitar part, which likely would have been played by John. Yes, I think the basic track would’ve been Paul, George and John on guitars and Ringo on drums – before the overdubs, that is.

If you want to listen to the instrumental track on YouTube, just follow this link .

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This song reminds me of Charles Dicken’s famous novel, A Tale Of Two Cities. Specifically it reminds me of the character, Jerry Cruncher’s life.

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Great song, great lyrics–but almost impossible to play/sing live, on stage, with the visible instruments (and people) only. I watched all the live performances of this song, inclusively the famous one in Japan where George waves to the public to make some noise (to cover the false notes).

The question (dilemma?) would be: what do we prefer? An “artefact” or the ‘natural thing’? More precisely: a) an awesome manufactured product that supposes lots of double-tracking and overdubs, that can be listened only on the record (or cd, or mp3, or whatever) and cannot possibly be performed live or b) a spontaneous, live and lively (‘un-cheating’) experience? The elaborate composition, or the ineffable, unique, non-repeatable experience?

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If it is so hard to replicate, why does McCartney always include Paperback Writer in his live shows and do it sounding almost as good as the original

For a start there are five people in McCartney’s band, including a keyboard player who can flesh out the sound a little. Plus they’ve got quite a bit of performing experience under their collective belt!

I saw them do Paperback Writer in Cardiff earlier this year. It was great to see Paul play it on the same Epiphone Casino he recorded it with all those years ago.

I may be wrong, but the Beatles had a quite a bit of experience by ’66

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Another thing to consider is that PA systems, sound-mixing, and the provision of foldback are immensely superior now, whereas The Beatles had woefully inadequate amplification and mixing. Being able to hear your own voice really helps your singing.

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What you’ve got to understand Scott, is that by the time The Beatles got to recording Paperback Writer, touring for them had become something of a joke. As Paul would say in early 1967, “Performing has gone right down for us… whats the point if nobody can hear us.” and that was the problem. Girls screaming louder than the engines on a Boing 707 (Remember them). Also, as The Beatles were forfront of the evolution not only of pop/rock music,but they were the pioneers of many musical techniques and studio innovations which would come to fruition on ‘Pepper’ only so many months after Paperback Writer. They had access for the first time of four-track. I can go and buy a four track tape machine today. (In fact I have one), but back in 1966, a four track was quite the new thing, and The Beatles were happy to try new things which is what kept them ahead of the game.

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You’re right. Their live performance of Paperback Writer was lousy.

I like this song, but they have written much better songs than paperback writer.

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I love the guitar riff and the huge pulsating bass on this song. Also on the fadeout, there’s a moment where the guitar sounds almost scorching. Very cool!

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Paperback writer has always been one of my favorite Beatles songs. Since all I’ve ever had was the stereo version it was a song which was mainly a great vocals song and had a great guitar hook secondary. Until I bought the remastered mono box set last year. Paperback writer in mono is mainly a guitar song with great vocals secondary. The change is so dramatic it’s shocking. I never knew the mono version like that existed and I’ve got an extensive Beatles collection. The first heavy metal song ever. It flows so much better in mono it seems shorter than the stereo version but is 5 seconds longer. The vocals are better in stereo but all of that switching back and forth of channels breaks it up a bit. The price of the mono box set was worth it just for Paperback writer in mono.

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I could not agree more. Once you hear paperback in mono, the stereo version just won’t do. It absolutely rocks in mono!

I’m happy someone else could here the difference between the stereo and mono versions. Lennon used to say that the mono versions were better than their stereo counterparts. I guess that’s what he was talking about.

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I believe Paul himself stated in his Barry Miles autobiography that John helped in the writing of this. He claimed 30% credit for “Rain” and gave John 30% of this.

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What kind of newspaper is/was The Daily Mail? Was it a trashy tabloid, equivalent in the States to The National Enquirer or The Star? Or was it respectable journalism, more along the lines of the NY Times or Washington Post?

It makes a difference to the meaning of the song. If the son is working at a trashy newspaper but aspires to write trashy novels, then it’s a comment on the limited vision of the author, and perhaps on trashiness in culture in general. But, if the son is working at a high-brow paper and rejects it for a career in pop culture, then that’s an anti-authoritarian comment.

I guess a third interpretation is possible. (Heck, a million interpretations are possible.) The author of the letter could just be ignorant / foolish, and not recognize that stepping down from the Mail to paperbacks would be an incongruous move. He does, after all, make an earlier blunder in referring to “a novel by a man named Lear” — not realizing that Lear never wrote novels, and naively assuming that an editor would not have heard of one of England’s most famous authors.

You can read about the Daily Mail here . In the 1960s it was a broadsheet; nowadays it’s a very right-wing tabloid, not as trashy as the News of the World or the Sun, but not far off. It quite often publishes anti-immigration and homophobic screeds aimed at a conservative middle Englander mindset.

The Beatles seemed to read it fairly regularly – John Lennon wrote A Day In The Life while reading a copy. I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the DM, though, with regards to the meaning of Paperback Writer. Many journalists will work for whoever wishes to employ them, regardless of whether they agree with the newspaper’s editorial agenda. Anyway, it’s only the job of the son of the book’s protagonist – hardly central to the song. I suspect McCartney just wrote down whatever came into his head regardless of a deeper meaning.

Thanks! That helps a lot.

I’m new on this site, so maybe I should state my prejudices up front. I studied poetry in college and after, and so I enjoy examining Beatles lyrics—not for their meaning, but for the effect they have. Certainly there are many other valid ways of enjoying the Beatles, and I do not pretend that my interpretations are the only ones possible.

That being said, I have never found the argument “that’s the first thing that came to mind” to hold much water. The question, in “Paperback Writer” as in any poem, is *why* did that particular phrase come to mind? What effect does it have on the song? I mean, it would not have taken any more time or effort to write “his son is working for the Sunday Times,” but that would have altered the meaning. Even if we just shrug and say, “they wrote whatever felt right,” we still must ask, well, why does “Daily Mail” feel right here?

The answer, I believe, lies with the son. The protagonist of the song wants to be a paperback writer, and he has written a paperback novel in which one of the main characters also wants to be a paperback writer. Thus, the fictional son is to some degree autobiographical. The fact that the author has placed his stand-in at a tabloid paper rather than at a tony one says something. You note that the Beatles all read the Mail; perhaps they saw it, and paperback novels, as more honest, more authentic expressions of culture than respectable, highbrow publications. (I gather from the Wikipedia entry that it was the paper of their socioeconomic class.) Or maybe they read it ironically, enjoying it for its trashiness. That would certainly fit with the ignorance / naiveté about Edward Lear.

You might say I’m over-thinking things, but I would counter that, like so many of their lyrics, this one stands up to and rewards closer scrutiny.

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Just think of the Daily Mail as the most natural expression of a daily newspaper at the time. It represents, if anything, a normal or typical newspaper. For me, it represents, in the song, a regular, social norm of a job while the writer aspires to breaking out in a more self-driven, bigger and more creative way. “Another Day” reprises that day job kind of feel, one with which I perceive McCartney had a particular fascination, as he analysed their kind of life against lives most of us have.

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Hi, I agree it is partly a class thing. The Sunday Times would not reflect the origins and aspirations of the character in the “story”. But I suggest that the other factor is that on those notes the assonant open vowels in Daily Mail just sing soooo much better than Sunday Times.

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@Martin Who do you think you are? William Mann? 😉

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Funny, here in America, we never knew the newspaper – to us “his son is working for the daily mail” meant he worked for the Post Office.

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Speak for yourself. I was a teenage American who knew what the “Daily Mail” was.

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The letter writer, was not lying or ignorant in saying Lear wrote a novel, he was saying his book, was based on the life, perhaps a day in the life? Of a man named Lear.

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I would bet Joe has it right – “his son is working for the daily mail – it’s a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer” the words just helped push the story forward.

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I would make the suggestion that the Daily Mail was iconic, or maintained enough popularity for the verse to have mass appeal (without detracting from the story), in any era regardless of its editorial/political stance. After all, years later The Smiths (read: Morrissey) were singing about it too.

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and the Smiths are one of the few bands worthy of being mentioned in the same conversation as the Beatles.

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ha ha ha ha ha oh stop it the smiths ffs?,,the king and the pauper

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Who? And I’m not saying The Who!

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I have a CD of this song with the vocals removed and there is a tremendous amount of energy here.

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wow, talking about experimental technology- In Geoff Emerick’s book, he describes how he and Paul recorded the unique bass sound- instead of a microphone in front of the amp, he placed another loudspeaker, and the vibrating cone generated the electrical signal. Fed through the right EQ equipment, it produced the prodigious bass roar. I think this was used on ‘Rain’ also. Totally amazing how these folk (and studio gurus) created the music.

How can they say he played this guitar when it says here he didn’t play one?

“John Lennon’s Gretsch 6120 guitar, the instrument the rock legend used when recording The Beatles’ 1966 classic “Paperback Writer,” will hit the auction block next month”

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There appears to be no real consensus on this, but the guitar riff sure sounds like Lennon. His riffs were usually grittier, as in Paperback Writer, while George’s were cleaner.

It still amazes me that they could just pop out a hit single when asked to, between albums & touring!

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The 2nd half of Paperback Writer really looks in & rocks harder than the 1st half.

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I was thinking about the lyrics to this yesterday at work. I always noticed how Paul starts the song off as he wanting to be a Paperback Writer until he gets to the verse where “his son is working for the daily mail,it’s a steady job,but he wants to be a Paperback Writer.” So now the subject of the song has changed from Paul to Mr. Lear’s son. Why? I have asked myself this so many times,but now I think the Son actually is the storyteller,Paul. Which would explain why they both want to be a Paperback Writer. Of course the story is fiction,it’s Paul right? But,even he wrote about people he knew from his life. I love this song.

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I think what it is is that the book is influenced by the writer of the letter’s own life. The writer of the letter wants to be a paperback writer and one of the character’s in his novel that he is describing in the letter, “the dirty man’s” son, wants to be a paperback writer as well. Lear isn’t the man, Lear is supposedly another novelist(“it’s based on a novel by a man named Lear”). It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s autobiographical but both the letter writer and the character of the son in his book want to write books so in a way the son is probably his avatar in his book..

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Can anyone tell me why Paul Mcartney played lead guitar on so many songs. I can’t think of any other band where the bass player plays so much lead guitar. Also, it is so obvious that the bass is Paul Mcartney, so he played bass & lead. Dare it be that George Harrison wasn’t really up to the job when it came to blistering guitar which Mcartney seems to be able to do. If this being the case, why didn’t they just get a guitarist who could cope with what was required.

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Paul was more than adequate as a lead guitarist, and could have filled that role in nearly any band, but he had a different style than George. He played more lead as they transitioned into a studio band because they didn’t really need to replicate the lineup on stage. If you’ll notice, all three guitarists changed their main instruments at around this time, which was a result of their studio experimentation.

Paul had a more natural understanding of music theory, but the guitar solo battle in “The End” tells me all I need to know about who was the better lead guitarist – Paul (Casino), then George (Les Paul), the John (Casino). George sounds a lot like Clapton on this song and really shows that he is the best of the three.

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Was this song truly the beginning of the Paul is dead rumor. I’d heard Epstein was unhappy with the song in that he wanted another yesterday/Michelle. Anybody…….

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I saw Paul in concert and he said “This is the guitar he played on Paperback Writer”. It looked like the Casino’s that you see John and George with.

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In the film clip George is playing what looks like a Gibson SG. Anyway, the guitar and drum bit (and whatever other rhythm instruments) at the start and in between verses still amazes me to this day. Great song, great musicianship.

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Great McCartney song. Love the guitar work and vocals. John Lennon’s “Rain” on the flip side is a classic as well.

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A very favorite Beatles song. It has a powerful forward energy to it. Nothing else sounds like it. A brilliant example of their distinguished, fabulous, middle-era electric sound.

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One of my favorite Beatle songs as well. I love the repeating signature lead part. Incredible tone and melody. In my opinion, it’s one of the best lead fills in rock history.

About the above statement about the John’s guitar,in the picture that was talked about that was taken durin the session for Paperback Writer,in the picture-Paul is playin his Casino, John is playin that Gretsch, and George is playin the Burns bass BUT that doesnt mean it was recorded using that lineup.

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The photo where George plays bass is from a rehearsal. In the recording Paul plays lead, George rhythm (with a heavy tremolo) and John tambourine. The bass was overbud later by Paul.

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Paperback Writer is in fact the first #1 single released by “The Beatles” organization that is not about love.

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I don’t think it Rain was B side. It was on the other side, but it was equally A side. The proof about it is that they made clips for Rain as well. They promoted both songs. I guess it was the first time they did it. A single with two A sides. They did it later to Penny Lane/Strawberry Friels. E also Hey Jude/ Revolution. I know Americans didn’t accept it untill “Come Together/Something”. But it was like that in UK. Also here in Brazil. I remember listening to both songs in the radio and not only Paperback Writer. By the way, Paperback Writer/Rain was the first single by The Beatles my father really liked. I remember he asking me who was singing because he liked very much. And was very surprised to know it was The Beatles. He thought Paperback Writer was very similar to songs by Marujada, a folklorical group from my city. I agree. Sounds like indeed. And Rain sounds like songs my The Foliões, another folklorical group. Dad was a folklorist so he really apprecatied those songs.

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There were Promo films made for both A and B sides of Beatle singles. However, there were only ever 3 Double A Side singles released in the UK. Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out, Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane.

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I liked this video much more but gotta tell you, this is not the video that was published in The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS on 5 June. And not the one shown on 2 June on the BBC music show Top Of The Pops. Just an information.

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In 1:45 of the Past Masters version, after the “Paperback writer” harmory and prior to the bass introducing the last set of “paperback writer”s, I am hearing a kind of bark, John talking (?), Paul talking (?) and –more audible– Paul’s playful “bah bah”.

The sounds are quite subtle and echoed, so when I first heard the bark while I was walking it scared the hell out of me! I just listened to the song one more time before writing this comment and it is the first time that I hear the John/Paul talking parts I mentioned above, which are even less audible than the bark. In the “1”album version of all this is gone. Is anyone here with me?

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Damn, I never knew Paul played that fantastic riff on the guitar… Is there ANY cool guitar part that Paul didn’t play in the early years?? This one, Ticket to ride, Another girl, Drive my car…

And later Taxman solo, Good morning, Helter Skelter…

Paul definitely is an underrated guitar player for sure!

And I love George a lot, but his solos always sounded a little clumsy for many years compared to this natural feeling…

It’s not very nice to say that George’s guitar solos were clumsy – he played very good guitar solos as well as riffs and fills. Paul actually did not play guitar on the final take of “Helter Skelter” – he played bass – and this is a common misconception. If you listen to Take 17 on the White Album SDE as well as “You’re So Square”, it’s more than evident that it’s him playing bass. Paul did state that he played the guitar on “Paperback Writer” in 1990 and 2005, but as I have previously stated, none of their memories were 100% perfect. Phil McDonald did write down on a piece of paper that Paul was on bass and John and George were on guitars for “Paperback Writer”.

I’m pretty sure that John plays rhythm guitar on this, since session photographs do reveal this, and even if Paul may or may not have played lead guitar on the basic track – remember, none of their memories were 100% perfect or infallible – there is a photo taken that day of George overdubbing some lead fills on his Gibson SG and Paul is simultaneously overdubbing his Rickenbacker bass part or perhaps double-tracking it, I’m not 100% certain. The photo with John and Paul on guitars and George on a Burns Nu-Sonic bass may have been a jam or something, but not necessarily the line-up on the final take. A possibility is that the basic track was either of guitars (Paul, George and John) and drums and tambourine (Ringo) or, as Phil McDonald’s handwritten notes imply, bass (Paul), guitars (George and John) and drums and tambourine (Ringo) – unless Ringo overdubbed the tambourine, that is.

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It’s very simple why Paul made the son in the novel want to be a paperback writer too. All four verses end with “paperback writer”. That way they can all get to the chorus of “paperback writer.” It’s to bring each verse back to the title and chorus.

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The main story says “written by Paul McCartney” but Paul’s observations make it clear the two writers worked together, John nodding and approving of various lyrical ideas, and then mutual work on the tune. Paul’s memory has consistently been shown to be excellent in terms of writing. Here he’s sharing credit. What’s up with the “written by Paul” thing? Am I missing something here?

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Interesting discussion at the Steve Hoffman forum of previously unnoticed sound effects in the fade out.

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paperback writer lyrics

Beatles Archive

The definitive archive for beatles fans, paperback writer, by john lennon & paul mccartney recorded 13, 14 april 1966.

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book? It took me years to write, will you take a look? It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer Paperback writer

It’s the dirty story of a dirty man And his clinging wife doesn’t understand His son is working for the Daily Mail It’s a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer Paperback writer

Paperback writer

It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few I’ll be writing more in a week or two I can make it longer if you like the style I can change it round and I want to be a paperback writer Paperback writer

If you really like it you can have the rights It could make a million for you overnight If you must return it, you can send it here But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer Paperback writer

Paperback writer, paperback writer Paperback writer, paperback writer Paperback writer, paperback writer Paperback writer, paperback writer (fade out)

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Paperback Writer

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About Paperback Writer

"Paperback Writer" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles. Written primarily by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney, the song was released as the A-side of their eleventh single in May 1966. It topped singles charts in Britain, the United States, Ireland, West Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. On the US Billboard Hot 100, the song was at number 1 for two non-consecutive weeks, being interrupted by Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night". "Paperback Writer" was the last new song by the Beatles to be featured on their final tour in 1966.   more »

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paperback writer lyrics

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. They became the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed act in the history of popular music. Their best-known lineup consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Rooted in skiffle and 1950s rock and roll, they later utilised several genres, ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical and other elements in innovative ways. In the early 1960s, their enormous popularity first emerged as "Beatlemania", but as their songwriting grew in sophistication, they came to be perceived by many fans and cultural observers as an embodiment of the ideals shared by the era's sociocultural revolutions. more »

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Written by: John Lennon, Paul McCartney

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paperback writer lyrics

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paperback writer lyrics

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Well, the story goes that Paul said he could write a song about anything, so his Grandmother asked him to write one about a paperback writer.

I agree, it's about a guy who wants to become a paperback writer. If there was one type of tome that was a big seller from the 1940's into the late 1960's, it was the pulp novel. A secondhand bookseller I went to a while ago had many on sale from that time period. In my mind, that probably where Paul got the other part of his inspiration, besides his grandma.

why has no one commented on this song!!! lol its amazing! i love it!

This song is obvious...Its about a guy who wants a break as a paperback writer XD Who WOULDN'T want a break as one? I mean, come on! Great song...One of the funnest songs I know XP

Well, decades ago, the late great conductor Leonard Bernstein was trying to figure out the meanings of some of the lyrics to the Beatles. He turned it into a documentary (don't know if it is available anymore). One of songs he examined was Paperback Writer. He claimed that Lennon and McCartney wrote it as a metaphor for prostitution, literally and figuratively. It was at a time when they were starting to get pressure from the labels to "be" a certain kind of band, yet at the same time the still could remember how thrilling it was at first to be so successful. This explanation sounds about right to me, looking at the lyrics.

I don't agree with that.

This for me is possibly the beatles most significant songs. Look at all the singles released beofre this. What does this song signify....a movement away from love related songs. This is where the beatles began to move on.

cause you haven't moved forwards :P

I don't think this song is about prostitution. I agree with Wyrm because I've heard that same story. Paul McCartney is an incredible lyricist. This in one of my favorite Beatle songs. I can only imagine what people were thinking when they first heard this back in the 60s. The vocal arrangements are great.

This is a weird song to be the only one you don't like one bit. Some people are really weird. I have no idea about the deeper meaning of the song, if there is one, but other than that it's pretty straight forward.

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paperback writer lyrics

  • 2. Eleanor Rigby
  • 3. I’m Only Sleeping
  • 4. Love You To
  • 5. Here, There and Everywhere
  • 6. Yellow Submarine
  • 7. She Said She Said
  • 8. Good Day Sunshine
  • 9. And Your Bird Can Sing
  • 10. For No One
  • 11. Doctor Robert
  • 12. I Want to Tell You
  • 13. Got to Get You into My Life
  • 14. Tomorrow Never Knows
  • 15. Tomorrow Never Knows (Mark 1, Take 1)
  • 16. Tomorrow Never Knows (Mono Mix RM 11)
  • 17. Got To Get You Into My Life (First Version/Take 5)
  • 18. Got To Get You Into My Life (2nd Version/Unnumbered Mix)
  • 19. Got To Get You Into My Life (2nd Version)
  • 20. Love You To (Take 1)
  • 21. Love You To (Unnumbered Rehearsal)
  • 22. Love You To (Take 7)
  • 23. Paperback Writer (Takes 1 & 2/Backing Track)
  • 24. Rain (Take 5 / Actual Speed)
  • 25. Rain (Take 5 / Slowed Down)
  • 26. Doctor Robert (Take 7)
  • 27. And Your Bird Can Sing (First Version / Take 2)
  • 28. And Your Bird Can Sing (First Version / Take 2 / Giggling)
  • 29. And Your Bird Can Sing (2nd Version / Take 5)
  • 30. Taxman (Take 11)
  • 31. I’m Only Sleeping (Rehearsal)
  • 32. I’m Only Sleeping (Take 2)
  • 33. I’m Only Sleeping (Take 5)
  • 34. I’m Only Sleeping (Mono Mix RM11)
  • 35. Eleanor Rigby (Speech Before Take 2)
  • 36. Eleanor Rigby (Take 2)
  • 37. For No One (Take 10 / Backing Track)
  • 38. Yellow Submarine (Songwriting Work Tape / Part 1)
  • 39. Yellow Submarine (Songwriting Work Tape / Part 2)
  • 40. Yellow Submarine (Take 4 Before Sound Effects)
  • 41. Yellow Submarine (Highlighted Sound Effects)
  • 42. I Want To Tell You (Speech & Take 4)
  • 43. Here, There And Everywhere (Take 6)
  • 44. She Said She Said (John’s Demo)
  • 45. She Said She Said (Take 15 / Backing Track Rehearsal)
  • 46. Taxman (Mono)
  • 47. Eleanor Rigby (Mono)
  • 48. I’m Only Sleeping (Mono)
  • 49. Love You To (Mono)
  • 50. Here, There and Everywhere (Mono)
  • 51. Yellow Submarine (Mono)
  • 52. She Said She Said (Mono)
  • 53. Good Day Sunshine (Mono)
  • 54. And You Bird Can Sing (Mono)
  • 55. For No One (Mono)
  • 56. Doctor Robert (Mono)
  • 57. I Want To Tell You (Mono)
  • 58. Got to Get You into My Life (Mono)
  • 59. Tomorrow Never Knows (Mono)
  • 60. Paperback Writer
  • 62. Paperback Writer (Mono)
  • 63. Rain (Mono)

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  • The Beatles Lyrics
  • Alternative Revolver Album
  • Paperback Writer (version 4) Lyrics

The Beatles - Paperback Writer (version 4) Lyrics

Artist: The Beatles

Album: Alternative Revolver

paperback writer lyrics

Paperback writer (Paperback writer) Paperback writer Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book? It took me years to write, will you take a look? It's based on a novel by a man named Lear And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer Paperback writer It's a dirty story of a dirty man And his clinging wife doesn't understand His son is working for the Daily Mail It's a steady job, but he wants to be a paperback writer Paperback writer Paperback writer (Paperback writer) Paperback writer It's a thousand pages, give or take a few (Frère) I'll be writing more in a week or two (Jacques) I can make it longer if you like the style (Frère) I can change it 'round, and I want to be a paperback writer (Jacques) Paperback writer If you really like it you can have the rights (Frère) It can make a million for you overnight (Jacques) If you must return it you can send it here (Frère) But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer (Jacques) Paperback writer Paperback writer (Paperback writer) Paperback writer Paperback writer Paperback writer Paperback writer Paperback writer Paperback writer Paperback writer Paperback writer Paperback writer Paperback…

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(John Lennon – Paul McCartney)  

Unconventionality had become the trend of 1966 for The Beatles – even when it came to writing songs for the worldwide singles market. While much care was taken when Lennon and McCartney wrote album tracks, special attention was usually the norm when creating what would be a contender for their next single. It needed to have a catchy melody line that would stick in your mind, a melodic hook or riff that would identify the song, and the content of the lyrics would have to be about love, since that subject was determined to be the most accessible to pop audiences of the time. However, subject matter for singles was in the process of changing at the time, such as with Bob Dylan's top 5 1965 hit "Like A Rolling Stone," a fact that didn't go unnoticed by The Beatles.

The fourth song they set out to record, however, was more quickly completed and deemed suitable for immediate release as a single. While it did have many of the usual hallmarks of a hit pop record of the time, such as the catchy melody line and a melodic guitar riff, the lyrical content was very much out in left field for 1966. Instead of romance, the only mention of a relationship was of “ a dirty man ” whose “ clinging wife doesn’t understand .” Nonetheless, “Paperback Writer” was rushed out as their next single, topping the charts internationally.

Songwriting History

As for songwriting credits, John comments in his 1972 Hit Parader interview: “I think I might have helped with some of the lyrics. Yes, I did. But it was mainly Paul’s tune.” While Paul may not remember it quite this way, as detailed above, he seems to indicate that John definitely played a part, if not lyrically then melodically, saying “we went upstairs and put the melody to it. John and I sat down and finished it all up.”

Recording History

On April 13th, 1966, their fifth recording date for what became the “ Revolver ” album, The Beatles entered EMI Studio Three at 8 pm, their second session that day after a 90-minute meal break, to concentrate on what would eventually be decided to be the a-side of their next single. The earlier session on this day (2:30 to 6:30 pm) saw George’s song “ Love You To ” to completion, which allowed an hour-and-a-half break to switch gears entirely in preparation for a more pop oriented track.

In the meantime, from 7:30 to 8, George Martin, Geoff Emerick and Phil McDonald huddled in the control room of EMI Studio Three to create the mono mix that was used for the worldwide release. Two attempts were made to create this mono mix, presumably their second attempt being the keeper.

Song Structure and Style

This is in a pretty straightforward format, consisting of verses and a repeating chorus which acts as an introduction. The structure ends up as “ (intro) chorus/ verse/ verse/ chorus/ verse/ verse/ chorus/ outro ” (or abbabbac ). No instrumental (or solo) section is needed but, with such a characteristic guitar riff puncturing through the speakers, it is definitely not missed.

The second harmony from John and George consist of the “ paperback writer ” phrase starting on the second measure when Paul sings the word “ writer ” and then those harmonies holding out the word “ writer ” from the third measure throughout the fourth measure (actually mistakenly stopping a little short each time the chorus is heard). The third harmony overdub consists of John and George layering on another falsetto “ paperback writer ” phrase that stretches out between the third and fourth measures. Although it’s hard to tell, Paul’s voice may very well have been included in these harmony overdubs. Nonetheless, much time and work was needed to put all this detail together.

The second verse is also twelve measures long and is practically identical except for different lyrics and a surprising final two measures. As the harmonies and guitar riff are ringing out in the eleventh measure, the engineers take an audio snapshot of what is there and fill the twelfth measure with an echo-laden image which is then quickly faded down as the twelfth measure is complete. A pretty amazing production feat for 1966!

Paul again is center stage, understandably because of this being primarily his creation. His top-notch vocals, bass and lead guitar are extremely fitting for the occasion, Paul knowing full well how to continue the aura and allure of the group on the radio airwaves. John’s songwriting inventiveness of the period, as incredible as it was, was somewhat less commercial due to his infatuation with his chemical mind-expanding activities of the time.

Lyrically, the open-letter to a publishing house by a want-to-be author is engaging enough for minimal scrutiny, although it needn’t be taken too literally as a complete story. If that would be the case, as the book “A Hard Day’s Write” explains, “it’s about a paperback writer who has written a novel based on another novel, which is also about a paperback writer…The lyric was driven more by the sound of the words than their logic.”

American Releases

Live Performances

“Paperback Writer” also has the distinction of being the only Beatles song recorded in 1966 that was performed live on stage by the group. Their two brief tours of the year, the last they ever made, featured the song as the next-to-last selection on their set list, no doubt because of it being their latest single at the time.

They retained the exact same set list for their final US tour, which began on August 12th in Chicago and ended with the monumental final live performance of their career at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, on August 29th, 1966. Other highlights of the tour included Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Memphis, Los Angeles and a somewhat triumphant return to New York City’s Shea Stadium.

“ Paperback Writer ”

Written by:  John Lennon / Paul McCartney  

  • Song Written : March - April, 1966
  • Song Recorded : April 13 and 14, 1966
  • First US Release Date : May 30, 1966
  • US Single Release : Capitol #5651
  • Highest Chart Position : #1 (2 weeks)
  • First US Album Release : Apple #SW-385 (SO-385)  “ Hey Jude ” (“The Beatles Again”)
  • British Album Release : Parlophone #PCS 7016 "A Collection Of Beatles Oldies”
  • Length : 2:26 (mono), 2:18 (stereo)
  • Key : G major
  • Producer : George Martin
  • Engineers : Geoff Emerick, Richard Lush, Phil McDonald

  Instrumentation (most likely):  

  • Paul McCartney -  Lead and Harmony Vocals, Lead Guitar (1962 Epiphone ES-230TD Casino), Bass Guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S)
  • John Lennon - Rhythm Guitar (1962 Gretsch 6120), harmony vocals
  • George Harrison -  Lead Guitar (1964 Gibson SG Standard), tambourine, harmony vocals
  • Ringo Starr –  Drums (1964 Ludwig Super Classic Black Oyster Pearl)

  Written and compiled by Dave Rybaczewski

"I Should Have Known Better" PREVIOUS - NEXT "Rain"

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Paperback Writer by The Beatles

paperback writer lyrics


  • Paul McCartney wrote this after helping some friends, including John Dunbar, set up the Indica Bookshop (in the basement was the Indica Gallery, where John Lennon eventually met Yoko Ono), in January of 1966. Paul was the first customer of the shop.
  • This song was a sort of an homage to lots of authors, including John Lennon, who had already written two books: In His Own Write and A Spaniard In The Works . He also was thinking of the author Martin Amis, whom he had just developed a passion for. >> Suggestion credit : Megan - Albany, NY
  • The song is sung from the perspective of an author soliciting a publisher. A "paperback" is cheaper than a traditional hardcover book, and at the time was considered of lower quality and written for mass consumption. The implication is that the writer isn't all that good.
  • The first #1 hit for The Beatles that was not about love.
  • John Lennon and George Harrison sang the French nursery rhyme " Frére Jacques " in the background. The Frére Jacques part has nothing to do with John Lennon - Paul just thought it was clever - but it does translate to "Brother John."
  • The B-side to this single was John Lennon's " Rain ." Paul and John would always compete for the A-side of The Beatles singles. >> Suggestion credit : Todd Van Luling - Herndon, VA
  • Lennon claimed this was "the brother of Day Tripper ," meaning the song was based on a "dirty" sounding guitar lick. The Beatles released "Day Tripper" the previous year. >> Suggestion credit : Chet - Saratoga Springs, NY
  • McCartney's bass was boosted by using a loudspeaker as its microphone and positioning it in front of the bass speaker. There was some concern that the heavy bass line would make record players skip.
  • The ad for the single in England used the "butcher cover," showing The Beatles holding parts of bloody dolls. It caused a stir in America when it was used for the Yesterday and Today album, which Columbia Records pulled from stores soon after release and is now a collector's item. If you own an early copy of Yesterday... And Today with the non-controversial cover, you might have something valuable with a little trick: according to Bill Cody, who worked at the Harmony Record Shop in Colorado, the new covers were put over the originals, and it is possible to steam them off to reveal the butcher covers. At Harmony Records, this is what they did with their shipment, allowing them to sell the albums for $5.99 instead of the original $2.99.
  • This was a song that led the transition from early Beatles style to later Beatles style, from love songs to opening up the subject of songs to a wider variety of subjects. Paul's Aunt had been bugging him for months, challenging him to "Write a song that wasn't about love." So he wrote this just to shut her up. He said: "We always try to do something different. And this idea's a bit different. Years ago my Auntie Lil said to me, 'Why can't you ever write about a horse or the summit conference or something interesting? So I thought, 'All right, Auntie Lil. I'll show you." >> Suggestion credit : Mike - Mountlake Terrace, WA. U.S.A
  • Ringo's bass drum was emphasized on this track. A microphone was placed an inch away to make it boom.
  • On the Beatles' lone appearance on BBC's long-running music show Top Of The Pops , they performed this song with George Harrison mysteriously miming to "Frére Jacques."
  • The single's picture sleeve showed both Lennon and Harrison playing left-handed as Capitol's art department mistakenly reversed their photos.
  • This claimed the top spot in the US for two non-consecutive weeks; it was interrupted for one week by Frank Sinatra's " Strangers in the Night ."
  • By this time, The Beatles were about to cease touring and couldn't make many TV appearances to perform the song. This made it very difficult to promote the single, so they commissioned a film clip that could be shown on these programs in their stead, unwittingly creating one of the first music videos. The clip was shot at Chiswick House in London, which is famous for its lavish gardens. The setting made an interesting backdrop, but the focus was on the band, with the guys getting lots of close-ups and appearing in various cool poses. A video for the flip side of the single, "Rain," was shot at the same time. The clip first aired in the US, appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show on June 5, 1966. Black-and-white versions later aired in the UK on Thank Your Lucky Stars and Ready, Steady, Go!
  • The video was directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who worked on various UK television shows, including Ready, Steady,Go! , where he fell in with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. He became arguably the first music video director when these bands hired him to make promotional films; after doing "Paperback Writer," he also did " Hey Jude " and " Revolution ," as well as several productions for The Stones, including their Rock and Roll Circus special. As revealed in the Beatles 1+ reissue, Lindsay-Hogg pitched a conceptual video for "Paperback Writer" envisioning Paul McCartney as an aspiring novelist. The band's manager, Brian Epstein, killed the idea, becoming perhaps the first band manager to quash a clever concept video in favor of just showing the band performing the song in an exotic location.
  • More songs from The Beatles
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  • Lyrics to Paperback Writer
  • The Beatles Artistfacts

Comments: 89

  • Jennifur Sun from Ramona that is interesting about the mike and the Bass guitar. It is my understanding that PW and Rain were the first songs Paul used his now Rick bass. always thought that was why it sounded so heavy and unusual.
  • Pete from San Antonio, Texas Sir Paul McCartney is currently on tour and Paperback Writer is on set list. He reveals to his audiences before he plays the song that is was HE who played the raunchy, driving guitar lead on Paperback Writer. He even uses the exact guitar in concert that he used in the studio, which is an Epiphone Casino. The PW session photos show him playing the Epi. Thus ends decades of speculation about who the lead guitarist was in this song. No word as to what George's role was.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, Ny On August 11th 1966, the Beatles arrived at Chicago's O'Hare Airport to start their 3rd and last tour of the U.S.A.Surprisingly, on that very day they had only one record, "Paperback Writer", on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, it was at #37, eight weeks earlier on June 19th it peaked at #1 {for 2 non-consecutive weeks}...But three days after their arrival in American "Yellow Submarine" entered the Top 100 at position #52, and on that day, August 14th, 1966, the ‘Fab Four’ were performing at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio...R.I.P. John and George.
  • Emily from St Louis, Mo I would bet that Paul wrote this about John. Poor Cyn was just a safety net and the son who works for the dailymail is Julian being a great PR subject matter for the DailyMail to write stories about. PR and real life.
  • Johan from Stockholm, Sweden The critic George Melly wrote 1970: Throughout 1965, I found their singles releases less and less interesting, for me, Paperback Writer was a poor thing, a falling off. I agree with George Melly absolutely. McCartney cannot - opposed to Lennon- maintain an excited feeling. McCartney starts this song by - inspired by Lennon - hammering on the same note. But when he comes to ...paperback writer... the melody suddenly sinks to a lower level, and the excitement is away.
  • Carl from Apg, Md On April 22, 2012, I am seeing a reference to Yesterday and Today album at top of this page. That song was NOT on that album, nor was it on Revolver.
  • Eric from Coral Gables, Fl It's unlikely that this song was inspired by a passion for the works of Martin Amis since that fine writer's first novel wasn't published until 1973. His father Kingsley, maybe?
  • Akina from Dhaka, Bangladesh I have no idea why I love this song so so much!!! Been listening to it non-stop for the past 3 hours!
  • Sydney from Dallas, Tx I've read many things about this song, and I can never decide what exactly to go by. But on another note, I really love this song, becase I am indeed a Paperback Writer. Acutally, I'm a paperback journal writer......
  • Carl from Apg, Md "This was the last Beatles song recorded to feature on their tour." -- besides changing "there" to "their" as I just did, let me explain that it was the NEWEST Beatles song to be done on that touring which ended in 1966. It was done in the sessions which also produced the songs on "Revolver", and by the way some people were disappointed that the Beatles did not perform any songs from "Revolver" during their touring. Interesting point about the moustaches.
  • Mary from Chandler, Az It's funny that he wrote a song called "Silly Love Songs" later on. I think Auntie Lil was right. :)
  • Myla from San Diego, Ca So it was noted that Paul and John would always compete for the A sides of singles...does anyone know who determined what went on the A side for the Beatles? Did they flip a coin, or did George Martin the producer get the final say, or did the group members get to vote on it, or was it the record company executives who got the final say? It's just fascinating how two incredible writers really relished competing each other because in the end, they brought out the best in each other. Personally they should have put Rain on another A side single to give it the recognition it really deserved.
  • George from Belleville, Nj What a song,what a concept,what an idea,what greatness.This is a powerful example of pop rock song writing.Paul could write about anything and write top quality songs,which is the main thing,the quality of a song,and this song has it.
  • Ben from Toronto, On LISTEN TO 'Last Train to Clarksville' by the Monkees after listening to this song and tell me it isn't crafted based on the Beatle song.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, Ny On June 25th, 1966 "Paperback Writer" moved into the #1 spot for one week, then "Strangers in the Night" by Frank Sinatra bumped it out for one week. But "Paperback Writer" reclaimed the top spot for another week!!!
  • Brian from Boston, Ma I had made made comments on daytripper and paperback writer and I had confused the two sorry. Paperback writer has the promotional film and it is the song on guitar I encourage players to learn. Both of these songs have a great riff One again I apoligize to the readers of these comments for the confusion.
  • Brian from Boston, Ma Also in the promotional film George Harrison plays a Gibson SG I might be wrong but I think this is the first time we as fans have seen him play this guitar.Prior he had been known for Gretchs and rickenbackers. This Gibson SG gives a somewhat heavier sound. Althoug I wouldn't call this hard rock. The guitar itself is hard and heavy and yet the harmonizing vocals give it more mellow tone a truly breakthru song for the Beatles
  • Brian from Boston, Ma I recently learned to play Daytripper on guitar. To those who might be just learning guitar or only know a few chords I encourage you to learn this.What is great about this song is that it has such balls. It is not a difficult song to learn it sounds more complex then it is. It does take some practice like anything else but it is pretty basic.I am not exactly sure off the top of my head what album the Beatles were working on when they released this single [because I think it was released as a single and not an album cut but I could be wrong] But I think this was around 65 or so.Around the time of Rubber Soul and then of course followed by Revolver in 66. Just from a fan of guitar this was a great period for the Beatles some really great riffs. If you listen to any of the Monkeys music songs like day tripper and paperback writer were practically the blue print for some of their most popular songs [pleasant valley sunday, Last train to clarksville, I'm a believer.] all have a "Beatles" like riff in them from this period Great stuff. I also think that it is no coinsedence that around this time marijuna use among them was heavy and very influential on their sound.Great stuff
  • John from Grand Island, Ny Sorry Tyler from Grand Rapids, MI...Paul did NOT play drums on Paperback Writer, Ringo did...look it up.
  • Kennedy from Newport, Wa I love this song, cause it totally describes me! A paperback writer :]
  • John from Milwaukee, Wi Ringo Starr played the drums and tambourine on Paperback Writer. Paul was lead vocalist and played bass on Rickenbacker guitar. John played rhythm guitar and back up vocal. The single was released on A side with "Rain" on B. The single went to the number one spot in the United States, United Kingdom, West Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. It stayed at No. 1 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 spot for two weeks after it was released in the U.S. on May 30, 1966.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, Ny In the summer of 1966 I was in the US Navy stationed in Norfolk, VA. The Beatles were in concert on 8-16-1966 in Washington, DC; a Norfolk AM station {WGH} was sponsoring a bus to the concert. The cost for both the bus trip & a ticket to the concert was $10, but for a sailor like me that was a lot of money, so a passed on it, OH, OH, OH how foolish I was!!!!
  • Daevid from Glendale, Ca I agree, the guitar riff really makes the song.
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Mo i absolutely love this song! the message is simple- a guy who wants to write. and the lyrics are amazing! for our english class, we have to write a narrative a month, which, of course, makes us low on ideas. once, my friend and i were trying to come up with an idea for her to write about. she said "fine, ill guess ill write about AIDS." then, this song came on. i told her "no, write about a paperback writer!" so she wrote a story based around this song. (the main character's name is 'richard'. hmm, i wonder who that is?)
  • Jason from Marion, In there really is no secret deep meaning to this song. this song was written while all the beatles were getting along, and paul wrote this song about john, making fun of him for trying to write books. the lowest form of novels are paperbacks. the line about how he has a steady job is basically saying 'wow john you are in the biggest band right now (best band imo) and all u want to do is write paperback books. it was all in good fun. there is no secret meaning of what its like to be a writer, or any rubbish some people are trying to make it out to be. its just a great song, that is funny
  • Olivia from Chicago, Il I've listened to this song a couple times it never occured to me until just recently that it might be about JOhn lennon, and i love that fact at the bottom by nicole. very cool
  • Tim from Reston, Va John and George both play hollow body Gibsons on this song. A good friend and Beatle fan has played me an original mono single pressing and that is the way to hear this song because it gives the guitars justice. In my opinion, there has never been a satisfactory stereo version to the song, even on the "1" CD. It is really a heavy song when you hear it in mono.
  • Tyler from Grand Rapids, Mi Ringo didn't play drums on the recording...Paul did.
  • Brad from Flint, Mi Jameson from Lexington, KY: I, too, found the butcher album in Flint, MI about 28 yrs. ago in a vintage record store with a $50.00 price marked on it. That was the best $50.00 I ever invested in my life (still own it). As far as details on value, you're better off 'google-ing' (or similar) the info. There were many variations of the album - each demanding various prices today, whether it was the original butcher cover/stereo pressing-still sealed, etc., down to the 'paste over' cover/mono pressing (more commmon, which is what I have), how good someone peeled off the 'trunk cover', etc. Last I heard, my version was worth around $1200.00 - I really don't know - nor do I care to sell it. Good luck on your research. B. Norman
  • Brad from Flint, Mi The promotional film clip for this song (and the one for "Rain") both show Paul's chipped tooth. They filmed this in the spring of '66, which proves he went for months without having the tooth capped (he finally did have it capped for the '66 summer tour). These promo clips also show the big scar on his upper lip above the broken tooth - all caused by his moped accident he had December 26, 1965, in which he fell face-first onto the pavement, busting the tooth and driving it through his upper lip. Paul claims he went to a cousin of his who was a nurse at that time and the first stitch she put in wouldn't hold. I guess he was a bloody mess when she first saw him and she freaked. The butcher album photo session showed this also, although the final picture was airbrushed to hide the chipped tooth. Paul said the scar bothered him for a while and was the reason he decided to grow a mustache after they quit touring. Since they all did things together, the rest eventually grew mustaches for Sgt. Pepper (including the promo for Strawberry Fields / Penny Lane, which were intended for 'Pepper'), with John being the last to grow one (he didn't have one yet when he did a guest appearance on "Not Only, But Also" in November '66).
  • Dave from Liverpool, United Kingdom I'm sat in my office which is two minute's walk away from the Cavern. Nice to see so many of you Americans appreciate what Liverpool has given to the world...
  • Eric from Buffalo, Ny This song is awesome on so many levels. It may be my favorite Beatles song. It contains nearly everything that makes the Beatles great. Interesting lyrics, great vocal harmonizing, driving drums from Ringo, edgy guitar, studio effects with the echo, and perhaps Paul's best bass on any Beatles song. This song makes me want to be a bass player!
  • Guy from Birmingham, Al I'm 52, and wasn't close to 15 when this song came out. But th big contrversy then was not whether it was about drugs, but whether it was antichristian or not. As one of my dear frinds said, "You can love Jesus or you can love the Beatles, not both!" Fine by me, the Beatles had the best song list, ROFL!
  • Tina from Norcross, Ga If you listen very closely, you will hear the Beatles singing "Fere Jacques" in the background as counterpoint.
  • Jason from State Of Fitz, Nj I always thought this song is about john. He had written his two books, I think this was a kind of sarcastic reply to John.
  • Danny from Dimondale, Mi In the US, Paperback Writer was released as a single b/w Rain and NEVER appeared on the "Yesterday"... and Today LP. In the UK it appears on A Collection of Beatles Oldies. The song shows up again later near the end of the Beatles' career in the US on Hey Jude (The Beatles Again) LP. It can be found on many compilation CDs including Past Masters, Vol. 2. to name just one.
  • Danny from Voorhees, Nj im 13, beatles rule, this song is not about drugs, help is probably about love, or a prostitute, a very low percentage of beatles songs are about drugs, dont argue or analyze it, its a great song. beatles are the greatest.
  • Simon from Chattanooga , Tn excellent guitar work. i listen to this song over and over again. not only is George flaring on the guitar, but Paul backs it up with a standup bassline. -Simon,Chattanooga,TN
  • Jim from Indio, Ca If you listen to this song on headphones, you can hear one of the background vocalists sniff just before the vocals come back in.
  • Krista from Elyria, Oh Tell me about it, Stephen! This song is so prettyful! When my Girl Scout troop was having a singign contest, I sang Paperback Writer, and I won
  • Stephen from Claymont , De I dont know how you guys think help is about drugs
  • Mark from San Pedro, Ca Here are a few clarifications: The "man named Lear" refers to British writer Edward Lear, who wrote nonsense poems and stories during the Victorian era. Great favorite of John's. You can read about him in Wikipedia, then click on the links to read his poems. John had two books published in the mid-60's, at the height of the Beatle's fame: "In His Own Write" and "A Spaniard in the Works," featuring poems, funny stories, and drawings. So, John was actually a "Paperback Writer" himself! Mark San Pedro
  • Andrew from Indianapolis, In God i could listen to that riff all day
  • Sam from Montreal, Canada I don't know if it's true. The Strangers (an Australian band from the 60's) supposely wrote and perform this song in 1965, which is one year before the single Paperback Writer/Rain from the Beatles. See it yourself on Youtube.com (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_iUn1JyYD8&NR)
  • Steve from Spokane, Wa For Jameson, a bit more on the ?Yesterday? butcher cover. The cover was an idea by Paul, who was single and into the arts that was happening in London, living in a very trendy neighborhood. He (and the boys) were tired of the standard old smiling mop top image the record companies were promoting. The US cover showed up on DEMO copies sent to various radio stations only, but Capital ended up printing a bunch, discovered their mistake, and quickly recalled all they could find. The covers already printed ended with a sticker of the released cover (smiling mop tops, of course) and became a huge collector?s item. I think that original cover (a few still out there) is probably the most expensive bit of Beatle trivia there is. To Ken and Patrick, I always heard the line as ?it?s based on a novel about a man named Leer.? Leer, of course was a King who some guy named Willie wrote a play about.
  • Chris from Williams, Australia This was the last Beatles song recorded to feature on there tour. It was a crowd favorite and a favorite of mine. A wonderful song and McCartney's bass, Starr's drumming and John and George's Guitars take the song to a whole new level of recording. The vocals are stunning too, with them hitting quite high notes, especially McCartney. These guys can do anything.
  • Sal from Bardonia , Ny A great sound in this record with it's very dirty distorted guitar, capella vocals, bass boosted by a loudspeaker, echoing vocals at the end of each verse and some wierd guitar effects at the end of the song a great power pop song. Sal, Bardonia, NY
  • Andi from Scarborough, England i watched celebrity big brother last year and jimmy saville came in the house to give jimmll fix it badges.he was telling them all and also the nation that his claim to fame is about jimmy reading a paperback book back stage at the bbc.john turned to paul and said wat shall we right a song about next...and paul had said lets write one about that book jimmy is reading?now then now then is this true??
  • Patrick from Des Moines, Ia Was Leer a real writer because "leer" in spanish means "to read" just thought I'd throw that out there
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, Sc Cool song! This and "Rain" have a very similar sound. I like this song and it's arrangement.
  • Lee from Clearwater, Fl I enjoyed the song, and felt it had nothing to do with drugs. George's guitar was great, very George
  • Fyodor from Denver, Co Paperback porn books were big business in the sixties. Ed Wood, Jr., the famous director of bad movies, made his living writing them. I think this song may reflect the desperation The Beatles felt in their early days when they were hoping to catch a break and get signed.
  • Seth from Hebron, Ky This song is about a man who wirtes porn books. "It's a dirty story of a dirty man and his clinging wife doesn't understand." Most of you will disagree but that's what paperback books are. (I know it also means a cover of a book is paperack but that's not what it's about.)
  • Zack from South Lyon, Mi Sorry to state the obvious but, the Beatles are great
  • Andy from Leeds, England Jimmy Saville said Paul wrote Paperback Writer after seeing someone reading a book whilst he was having a shave...Is this true?
  • Patrick from Des Moines, Ia If you listen you can hear a pencil scratching in the background
  • Riley from Naval Reserve, Sc I LOVE The Beatles, like probably the rest of the crowd here, and I agree with some of the others, HELP is not about drugs! Paperback Writer is a good song, I enjoy the harmonizing, and it is kind of funny how a song about a novelist trying to get his book published is so popular. I guess that is just The Beatles for ya. I am 14.
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, Mn I really liked this Beatles hit which was one of the few non love songs recorded. It may be the only song where the British newspaper The Daily Mail is referred to. Also memorable is Frere Jacques in the background.
  • John from Woburn, Ma Only the Beatles could make a song about an aspiring novelist into a great rock hit.
  • Ken from Louisville, Ky Capitol was afraid that the U.S. audience wouldn't "get" British references "Daily Mail" and "based on a novel by a man named Lear". But Brian Epstein and George Martin conviced Capitol that by then the Beatles were so popular that the U.S. audience woudn't even notice. They were right.
  • Mary from London i love this song. its great and you CANT hate the Beatles. They are so AMAZZZZZZZZZING!
  • Josef from Corpus Christi, Tx This song was about writing on a trip...
  • George from Itaberaba, Brazil The promotional film for this song great song is amazing too
  • Anonymous I like the relavency of this song, and the questions it presents. What is my dream job? How far am I willing to go to succeed? The guy in this song is willing to compromise his rights as an artist, if it will help him become a "paperback writer". (Which raises more interesting questions. What are the artist's rights in society? What are the publishing/recording companies' rights over the artist? Does creating art for the purpose of selling it demean its value? Or is it just as good as art created for art's sake?) I want to know what others think about these questions, too.
  • Luna from London, England Not EVERY Beatles song is about drugs! Trust me! I know EVERYTHING about them and their songs!
  • George from Itaberaba, Brazil Paperback writer is a great song, and all it's bass and drums... I loved this song at the first time I heard it. It's one of Paul's songs for letters and books, like "All my loving" and "P.S. I Love you". "HELP!" is not about love or marijuana, it's just a great song that John wrote in a bad moment. I'm fifteen years old
  • Tom from Freiburg, Germany It's the first song that features Paul on his newly acquired Rickenbacker 4001 bass. The engineer, who was told by McCartney into performing the above mentioned speaker-as-a-microphone trick, received an offical deprecation from the head at EMI for "mismatching impedances". Go figure.
  • Tom from Freiburg, Germany It's the first song that features Paul on his newly acquired Rickenbacker 4001 bass. The engineer, who was told by McCartney into performing the above mentioned speaker-as-a-micorphone trick, received an offical deprecation from the head at EMI for "mismatching impedances". Go figure.
  • Mandy from Calgary, Canada Excuse me- Help! is NOT about Marijuana... and if you think it is- there must be something wrong with you. Look, of course there are SOME Beatles songs that MAY be linked to drugs- but I am sick and tired of all these people who try to link EVERY single song of their's to drugs. Look, the Beatles wrote good songs- and they werent about drugs, okay?
  • Tim from Dalton, Ma "Are you trying to tell me that the #1 song "Help!" is about love? I tend to disagree. - don, rapid city, SD" I agree with Don, "Help!" is about marijuana, man
  • Jameson from Lexington, Ky In reference to the bit of trivia above, I've seen the "butcher cover" at a vintage record store (which, sadly, is no longer with us) here in Lexington, KY. I have to admit, that thing was f---ing creepy. I remember that, when released in the US, the _Yesterday and Today_ album essentially had a large decal placed on the cover to hide the offending original cover. Any older folk who read this have more info? Thanks...
  • Tony from St Louis, Mo i am 15
  • Laura from Santa Fe, Nm Yay!! Everyone at school thinks I'm a nerd/geek because I like the beatles. And I like reading. And I'm a Harry Potter junkie. I have a band and most of what we play is beatles. So, how old are you?
  • Lauren from Some Place, De yes, Laura, there are some people close to your age here. Like me.
  • Laura from Santa Fe, Nm Ahh... I love this song! I can play it on guitar. I'm 12, is there anyone here remotely close to my age?
  • Liz from Boston, Ms this song is annoying after a while, but i like it
  • Mena from Dallas, Tx if you've seen the anthology, it shows the promotional video for this song. look closly at paul and you'll realize his front tooth is chipped!
  • Calum from Edinburgh, Scotland I liked George's comment in the Anthology series that it was difficult to get the harmony right on stage, so he would wave to the crowd just before the difficult bits. The crowd would respond and any vocal inaccuracies were drowned out. Can't see that tactic working during a karaoke session at the local Bird and Bee though :-)
  • Ken from Louisville, Ky This was also the first Beatles single with an overtly British reference ("Daily Mail"). It was feared by Capitol executives that it would confuse American fans, but by then, everything British was "in" in the U.S.
  • Ken from Louisville, Ky This, along with it's B-side "Rain" was the first Beatles single where neither song was about a boy-girl relationship.
  • Andrew from Oakland Gardens, Ny This song actually sounds like it's told by a person telling his own story in a book. He writes a book about an aspiring Paperback Writer.
  • Christopher from Greenfield Center, Ny Paul wrote Paperback writer...John wrote Help... so to compare the two is like comparing sex with your wife or sex with the woman you are cheating on her with...two different things
  • Roger from Bristol, Tn Never understood why this song was considered to be the "A" side. "Rain" was so much better and way ahead of it's time. "PPR" is pretty good, but more of a "B" side song.
  • Reuven from Tel Aviv, Israel as you can clearly see ...this song was written as a letter ( starting with " Dear Sir or Madam " ). btw , i think this song is the first rap song ever ( just imagine they are all black while listening to it ;) .
  • Martin from London, England Four guys, in perfect harmony, showing the world what to do with two guitars, a bass and a set of drums. The Beatles reaching their creative peak. And, as excellent as this track is, the B-side is even better!
  • Adrian from Wilmington, De One of the my favorite Beatles's songs. The overdubbed harmonies are out of this world (who knows how great they would sound if I actually did drugs). The riff and the pounding drums are ahead of their time.
  • Adrian from Wilmington, De Though Help was not a song about love, people probably interpreted it that way simply due to the lines, "I know that I just need you like I've never done before." People probably just assumed it was about love since all the Beatles songs up until this point were about love.
  • Don from Rapid City, Sd Are you trying to tell me that the #1 song "Help!" is about love? I tend to disagree.
  • Nicole from Ludlow, Ma Paul wrote this song on a dare that he couldn't write a song not about love. He then replyed that he would write a song about a book.

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  1. Paperback Writer, by The Byrds

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  1. The Beatles

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    Read the lyrics and songfacts of Paperback Writer, a 1966 hit by The Beatles. Learn about the song's inspiration, composition, chart performance, and fan comments.

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  8. Paperback Writer Lyrics by John Lennon & Paul McCartney

    Paperback Writer Lyrics by John Lennon & Paul McCartney recorded 13, 14 April 1966 Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book? It took me years to write, will you take a look?

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    Read the lyrics of the 1966 hit song by the Beatles, written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Learn about the song's composition, chart performance, recording and production, and watch the video.

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