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Ringo Starr said he’s the best rock ‘n’ roll drummer alive but his songwriting leaves something to be desired. He penned one tune from The Beatles’ The White Album but he didn’t seem too proud of it. The track could be interpreted as a commentary on his feelings about songwriting.

The Beatles’ ‘The White Album’ has the 1st Ringo Starr song ‘that was recorded’

During a 1981 interview with Rolling Stone, Ringo discussed his abilities as a musician. “I’m most creative as a drummer,” he said. “I’m probably the best rock ‘n’ roll drummer on earth. I say that now because I used to be embarrassed to speak up for myself. I was often ignored because John and Paul were songwriters, and then George started writing. 

“I wrote my little songs, too, but I didn’t write anything to compare with theirs,” he added. “‘Don’t Pass Me By’ was the first track I ever wrote that was recorded,” he said. “That was my song.” Interestingly, “Don’t Pass Me By” is one of The Beatles’ rare country songs.

Ringo Starr discussed his place in The Beatles

Ringo elaborated on his place in The Beatles. “But imagine, I was in this band with the greatest songwriters on earth at the time!” he said. “I used to fetch in my little songs, and they’d all have hysterics because all I was doing was writing new words to old tunes. They’d be on the floor laughing!”

Ringo was trying to prove himself with “Don’t Pass Me By.” “So I had to get to the point where I could say I’d written a definite song — something that was not a rewrite of a Jerry Lee Lewis song,” he said. Love it or hate it, “Don’t Pass Me By” sounds nothing like Lewis.

How ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ and ‘The White Album’ performed on the pop charts

Whatever Ringo thought of it, “Don’t Pass Me By” works well in the context of The White Album. That record careens wildly between genres. It includes ska, pop, folk, avante-garde music, rock ‘n’ roll, and blues. Adding a country song to the mix works with the genre free-for-all. The lyrics of the song could also be understood as a meta-commentary on how Ringo didn’t want his songwriting talent to go unnoticed.

“Don’t Pass Me By” was never a single, so it didn’t chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The tun’s parent album, The White Album, was a different story. It topped the Billboard 200 for nine weeks, lasting a whopping 215 weeks on the chart.

The Official Charts Company reports “Don’t Pass Me By” didn’t become a hit there either. However, The White Album became a hit in the U.K. twice. In the 1960s, it reached No. 1 there foreign weeks, lasting on the chart for 37 weeks altogether. In the 1980s, it recharted at No. 18 and stayed on the chart for two weeks.

Ringo wasn’t a big fan of “Don’t Pass Me By,” but it proved he could write original songs on his own.