Did John Lennon or Paul McCartney Write the Beatles’ Breakout ‘Love Me Do’?
Once The Beatles were established, No. 1 hits became routine. By the end of the band’s epic, six-year run on the Billboard charts, the Fab Four topped the pack 20 times with hit singles. That was more than Elvis and will likely stand as an unbeatable record.
But they had to claw their way to the top first. The journey included trips to Hamburg to hone their style and residencies in Liverpool spots like the Cavern Club. However, a band can’t go anywhere without a hit record.
As of late 1962, The Beatles still hadn’t even released a record (let alone scored a hit). However, when the band booked a record date with EMI in London, they made sure to seize the opportunity.
Instead of going with a performance of another songwriter’s tune, John Lennon and Paul McCartney pushed to record one of their own compositions. The track was “Love Me Do,” and it broke the top 20 on the UK charts.
Paul said ‘Love Me Do’ was a tune ‘completely co-written’ with John.
So many people have been fascinated with The Beatles’ songwriting process that they haven’t stopped asking about it in 57 years. On several occasions, both Paul and John went through every tune in the Lennon-McCartney songbook to nail down who wrote what exactly.
With tracks like “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” Paul and John had worked through the song together from start to finish. They’d classify these in the “50-50” category. Then there were tunes like “Come Together” or “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” where it’s obvious who the songwriter was.
On the landmark “Love Me Do,” Paul remembered the two young songwriters hammering it out side-by-side. “Love Me Do was completely co-written,” he told Barry Miles in Many Years From Now. ” It might have been my original idea but some of them really were 50-50s, and I think that one was.”
Paul chalked it up to guys getting their start by just putting together a tune that would have their name on it. “It was just Lennon and McCartney sitting down without either of us having a particularly original idea.”
John remembered it more as Paul’s song.
In 1980, when John sat for extensive interviews with Playboy’s David Sheff, he remembered the song as almost all Paul. “‘Love Me Do’ is Paul’s song,” he told Sheff. “He wrote it when he was a teenager. I might have helped on the middle eight, but I couldn’t swear to it.”
Both John and Paul agreed that the idea came from Paul in the late 1950s. “I do know he had the song around, in Hamburg, even, way, way before we were songwriters,” John said.
As for why they remembered it differently, it might help to think about John looking back on his career. He might not have wanted to take credit for something he probably considered a corny song. (In a similar way, he said he had nothing to do with “Cry, Baby, Cry.”)
Either way, it will go down in history as a Lennon-McCartney track, and it certainly seems like both are very involved from those early performances. As a landmark in the Beatles’ rise to fame, it would be nice it were a 50-50n like Paul remembered it.