The Beatles’ ‘Rain’ Was the B-Side to ‘Paperback Writer’ For 1 Specific Reason

The Beatles’ released their classic song “Rain” as the B-side to “Paperback Writer.” This could be understood as implying that a track as good as “Rain” wasn’t good enough to be an A-side. During an interview, Paul McCartney revealed why The Beatles decided to make “Rain” a B-side.

The Beatles standing in a row
The Beatles | John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images

Paul McCartney opens up about the difference between The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’ and ‘Rain’

“Paperback Writer” is certainly a good Beatles song, but it’s not particularly groundbreaking. It’s a fun folk rock song about an interesting character. “Rain,” on the other hand, makes revolutionary use of backwards sounds. One could argue that “Rain” is a more important song than “Paperback Writer” as it paved the way for a lot of psychedelic experimentation from The Beatles and other bands. So why did The Beatles make it a B-side?

“George Martin had a say, we kind of had a say… I think we in the Beatles had always liked ‘Rain’, but I think we thought that as a song, as a kind of radio thing, ‘Paperback Writer’ was a bit more immediate,” Paul told Clash Magazine. “I know we all liked ‘Rain’, but some of the things we liked were kind of, not ‘underground’, but underground, if you know what I mean; it was a little bit off the beat, leftfield, and ‘Rain’ was one of them. Why we particularly liked it was ‘cause we did tricks with the speed; we recorded it fast and then slowed it down, the backing track. That was one of the first times we’d done that…. So yeah, we loved it, and the answer [to] your question is I think ‘Paperback’ was just a bit more suitable for radio play.”

The Beatles’ Rain”

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How did the public react to The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’ compared to ‘Rain?’

This raises an interesting question: Did “Paperback Writer” prove itself to be more “suitable’ for the radio than “Rain?” “Paperback Writer” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the chart for weeks. On the other hand, “Rain” reached No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the chart for seven weeks. While “Paperback Writer” did perform better than “Rain” on the charts, one could conclude this was a self-fulfilling prophecy. After all, A-sides generally received more attention than B-sides and The Beatles decided to make “Rain” a B-side.

The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer”

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How critics reacted to The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’ compared to ‘Rain’

In terms of critical reception, “Paperback Writer” arguably received the last laugh. Rolling Stone ranked “Rain” No. 88 on their list of the 100 greatest songs by The Beatles. On the other hand, they ranked “Paperback Writer” the 35th greatest Beatles song. “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” are both classic tracks, even if their connection to each other could cause people to pit them against each other.

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