- Frank Sinatra once knocked a Beatles song off the No. 1 position in the United States.
- The Beatles song in question was inspired by The Beach Boys.
- The Beatles song also quotes the children’s tune “Frère Jacques.”
The Beatles and Frank Sinatra made very different songs. Despite this, they had some of their biggest hits around the same time. A Sinatra song once knocked The Beatles off of the No. 1 spot in the United States. Notably, the Beatles song in question was inspired by The Beach Boys.
Paul McCartney revealed why he wrote The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’
The early years of The Beatles were dominated by love songs. During a 2015 interview with Billboard, Paul explained why. “Love is a great thing to write a song about,” he opined.” ‘You left me, I hate you.’ ‘I love you, please come to me.’ ‘Don’t go anywhere, because I’m coming.’ It’s what us humans are about.”
Despite this, he grew tired of writing love songs and moved on to other subjects. “Paperback Writer” was an attempt to do something different. Paul noted he wrote it when he was drawing lots of inspiration from The Beach Boys. Paul revealed The Beach Boys influenced the harmonies from “Paperback Writer.”
Why The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’ quotes from ‘Frère Jacques’
Paul further discussed The Beatles’ influences. “Before that, we had been influenced by artists like Smokey Robinson & The Miracles or Phil Spector,” he said. “But at this point, it was The Beach Boys. ‘Paperback Writer’ is a nod to them, and to the idea that everyone wants to write a novel. I liked the word ‘paperback.'”
Paul was asked why “Paperback Writer” quotes the song “Frère Jacques.” “That’s a good question,” he replied. “No idea! We threw in all sorts of stuff. Why did we say ‘Harold Wilson’ and ‘Edward Heath’ [in ‘Taxman‘]? We were completely free about throwing in an interesting idea.”
Frank Sinatra’s ‘Strangers in the Night’ replaced The Beatles at No. 1
According to The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, “Paperback Writer” was a No. 1 hit for two non-consecutive weeks. Its reign at the top was interrupted by Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night.” “Strangers in the Night” was Sinatra’s first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, a chart which began in 1958.
The Beatles went on to have several other No. 1 hits, including ubiquitous classics like “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be.” On the other hand, Sinatra never had another solo No. 1 single in the U.S. His final No. 1 was the 1967 tune “Somethin’ Stupid,” which was a duet with his daughter, Nancy Sinatra.
“Paperback Writer” and “Strangers in the Night” are both classic songs even if they were pitted against each other on the charts.