John Lennon Said Roy Orbison and Bing Crosby Inspired 1 Beatles Song

The Beatles’ songs took inspiration from many artists. For example, John Lennon said he drew inspiration from Roy Orbison and Bing Crosby while composing one of The Beatles’ early hits. Paul McCartney said the song was not as mature as some of the Fab Four’s later material.

Bing Crosby wearing a hat
Bing Crosby | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Paul McCartney said some Beatles songs weren’t as mature as the group’s later work

During an interview with The New York Times, Paul cited a few of The Beatles’ songs as examples of simple songwriting or writing songs for fans. “When I first said to John, ‘I’ve written a few songs,’ they were simple,” Paul recalled. “My first song was called ‘I Lost My Little Girl’ — four chords. Then we went into the next phase of songwriting, which was talking to our fans. Those were songs like ‘Thank You Girl,’ ‘Love Me Do,’ ‘Please Please Me.'” 

Paul contrasted those tunes with what he felt were more mature songs by The Beatles. He said “Let It Be” and “The Long and Winding Road” represented a richer vein of the Fab Four’s songwriting. Then be backtracked his own statement and said The Beatles’ simple and mature songs weren’t so different.

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What John Lennon said about 1 of the songs The Beatles wrote for their fans

Interestingly, John gave fans more insight into “Please Please Me.” According to the book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, John said he wrote “Please Please Me” by himself. In addition, John said he may have drawn inspiration from Orbison’s “Only the Lonely” while writing “Please Please Me.”

“It was my attempt at writing a Roy Orbison song, would you believe it?” John said. “I wrote it in the bedroom in my house at Menlove Avenue, which was my auntie’s place … I remember the day and the pink coverlet on the bed and I heard Roy Orbison doing ‘Only the Lonely’ or something. That’s where that came from.”

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John also revealed he drew inspiration from Crosby’s song “Please” while writing “Please Please Me.” “And also I was always intrigued by the words of [sings] ‘Please, lend your little ears to my pleas’ — a Bing Crosby song,” John recalled. “I was always intrigued by the double use of the word ‘please.'”

How the public reacted to The Beatles’ ‘Please Please Me’

Regardless of who wrote “Please Please Me,” the song was a bona fide hit. “Please Please Me” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 13 weeks. The song’s parent album, Please Please Me, peaked at No. 155 on the Billboard 200.

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The Official Charts Company reports “Please Please Me” was a hit in the United Kingdom too. “Please Please Me” reached No. 2 in the U.K., staying on the chart for 18 weeks. “Please Please Me” was a hit there as well, peaking at No. 1 and staying on the chart for 70 weeks. Regardless of which Orbison song inspired “Please Please Me,” it was a major success.