ON THIS DATE (46 YEARS AGO)
May 30, 1966 – The Beatles: “Paperback Writer” b/w “Rain” (Capitol 5651) 45 single is released in the US.
“Paperback Writer” is a 1966 song by The Beatles. Written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney, the song was released as the A-side of their eleventh single. The single went to the number one spot in the United States, United Kingdom, West Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. On the US Billboard Hot 100, the song was at number one 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, and was the group’s only U.S. number one released that year.
According to disc jockey Jimmy Savile, McCartney wrote the song in response to a request from an aunt who asked if he could “write a single that wasn’t about love.” Savile said, “With that thought obviously still in his mind, he walked around the room and noticed that Ringo was reading a book. He took one look and announced that he would write a song about a book.” In a 2007 interview, McCartney recalled that he wrote the song after reading in the Daily Mail about an aspiring author, possibly Martin Amis. The Daily Mail was Lennon’s regular newspaper and copies were in Lennon’s Weybridge home when Lennon and McCartney were writing songs.
The song’s lyrics are in the form of a letter from an aspiring author addressed to a publisher. The author badly needs a job and has written a paperback version of a book by a “man named Lear.” This is a reference to the Victorian painter Edward Lear, who wrote nonsense poems and songs of which Lennon was very fond (though Lear never wrote novels).
“Rain” is a song by the The Beatles, written by John Lennon but credited to Lennon–McCartney. It was first released in June 1966 as the B-side of the “Paperback Writer” single. Both songs were recorded during the sessions for Revolver but neither appears on that album. “Rain” has been called The Beatles’ finest B-side, especially notable for its heavy sonic presence and backwards vocals, both of which were a hint of things to come on Revolver, released two months later.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg directed four promotional films for the song shot on 19 and 20 May 1966. On the first day they recorded a colour performance at Abbey Road, for The Ed Sullivan Show, which was shown on 5 June, and two black and white performance clips for British television. These were shown on Ready Steady Go! and Thank Your Lucky Stars on 3 June and 25 June, respectively.
On 20 May, another colour film was made at Chiswick House in west London. The Beatles mimed to the song, and they were shown in and around the conservatory in the grounds of the house. The clip was first broadcast in black and white on BBC-TV’s Top of the Pops on 2 June. The Beatles made their only live appearance on Top of the Pops to mime to “Paperback Writer” and “Rain”. They were introduced by DJ Pete Murray. This session is famous for being wiped by the BBC when they were cleaning tapes for re-use. The session showed how difficult it was for the Beatles to even mime to their later material – they had difficulty in taking their performance seriously.