Paul McCartney Revealed ‘West Side Story’ Inspired 1 of The Beatles’ Songs

The Beatles‘ songs sound very different from Broadway songs. Despite this, Paul McCartney said one of The Beatles’ songs was inspired by West Side Story. In contrast, John Lennon had a completely different memory of what inspired the track.

A dancer on a poster for 'West Side Story'
A poster for ‘West Side Story’ | GAB Archive/Redferns

Paul McCartney said a Beatles song had a meaning different from the ‘West Side Story’ song that influenced it

According to the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, Paul owned a copy of the West Side Story soundtrack. The soundtrack includes a song called “There’s a Place for Us,” also known as “Somewhere.” The title of that song inspired The Beatles’ early track “There’s a Place.”

Paul compared the meanings of the Broadway song and The Beatles’ song. “But in our case the place was in the mind, rather than round the back of the stairs for a kiss and a cuddle,” he said. “This was the difference with what we were writing, we were getting a bit more cerebral.”

Subsequently, Paul discussed the recording of “There’s a Place.” “We [Paul and John] both sang it,” Paul recalled. “I took the high harmony, John took the lower harmony or melody. This was a nice thing because we didn’t actually have to decide where the melody was till later when they boringly had to write it down for sheet music.”

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John Lennon connected the song to Motown, not ‘West Side Story’

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono is a 1980 interview. In it, John is asked about the origin of “There’s a Place.” He didn’t connect the song to West Side Story at all or even to Broadway.

“‘There’s a Place’ was my attempt at a sort of Motown, Black thing,” John said. “It says the usual Lennon things: ‘In my mind there’s no sorrow.’ It’s all in your mind.”

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How The Beatles’ ‘There’s a Place’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

Regardless of what inspired it, “There’s a Place” became a minor hit in the United States. The song peaked at No. 74 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for a single week. The song appeared on The Beatles’ album Please Please Me. For one week, the album hit No. 155 on the Billboard 200.

According to The Official Charts Company, “There’s a Place” did not chart in the United Kingdom. On the other hand, Please Please Me became a massive hit there. It topped the U.K. chart for 30 weeks. The album lasted on the chart for 70 weeks altogether.

“There’s a Place” wasn’t a huge hit for The Beatles — but it has some interesting connections to other music.

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