104: Paperback Writer / Rain

May 13, 2017

Podcast, Podcasting

104 revised
“Are The Beatles on their way out now?,” asked The Daily Sketch. Said a critic at The Sunday Mirror: “They have, to put it bluntly, goofed. ‘Paperback Writer’ would have gone into my junk box had it been by another group.”
They were speaking of this, The Beatles’ 12th single: a work signaling the transition from their rock ‘n’ roll era into psychedelia. Though not an official double-A-side release, both songs warrant a detailed examination by Richard and Robert. Find out if they concur with the contemporaneous words of producer George Martin: “A pretty ordinary rock beat…As far as I’m concerned, there are other tracks I much prefer to it.”
Find Robert’s books here.
Find Richard’s books here.
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    25 Responses to “104: Paperback Writer / Rain”

    1. Tony aka Pismotality Says:

      Good show as ever. And you’re right that the lyrics of Paperback Writer don’t stand up very much scrutiny and that they are not the main point of the record. Author of a book which took “years to write” yet he now wants to start churning stuff out? And given all his investment of time on his masterwork isn’t it rather surprising, to say the least, that even on this first approach to a publisher he is ready to declare his readiness to “change it round” according to the whim of this prospective employer? Not to mention the fact that he all but admits defeat in the same letter: “If you must return it you can send it here”. Whatever happened to positive thinking? No willow-back-turning on inclement weather here.

      Also his admission that it’s based on a novel by someone else – and why “Lear”? “Poem” might make more sense if it was intended as an allusion to limericist Edward Lear (on a par with Lewis Carroll in terms of childhood reading in Britain); could that have been in the first draft? But then again “poem” might momentarily distract the listener, occasion a bit of thought, so perhaps it’s best to say the lyrics as they stand do the job for which they were intended, and any complication would distract from this powerful and joyous rocker.


      • Bill Slocum Says:

        I think he’s a writer in the Jeremy Boob sense, that he can type out lots of words but that they don’t mean much. In other words, a paperback writer is a kind of nowhere man.


    2. Paul Gase Says:

      As always, very nicely done. Thanks for bringing up 8 Miles High. Hearing it back to back with Rain is quite interesting and one has to think the guitars in Rain are directly influenced by the guitars running throughout the verses of 8 Miles High.

      About the guitars on PW and Rain:
      1. In PW I am curious you made no mention of JL’s rhythm playing, which is a single chord stroke that is features his amp’s tremolo effect. Not that you need to mention everything featured on the recording – but I do think it further supports the Indian/Eastern drone effect they were exploring.
      2. Rain guitars: their are many who believe that Paul is the featured guitarist on Rain. Also – if you listen closely to the guitars at start in after Ringo’s last big drum break (right before the backward vocal) one hear’s a guitar whose first note is an octave below the G (or, sped up, A) note. In other words, there is an additional detuned guitar in the mix – and could possibly be George playing that Burns bass in a more guitar fashion. Just saying there is an unorthodox tuning within the guitars on Rain. Great job – a fun listen and thanks for sharing the many tracks, especially the backing track before they slowed it down.


    3. Rian Owon Says:

      I recently found these podcasts and appreciate how well prepared they are. I enjoy the alternate takes, isolated features and the wealth of knowledge you bring to the discussion. The only drawback is that I usually play podcasts as background noise and yours warrant my full attention.
      As for the inclusion of “Frere Jacques”, I would submit that it’s more than a reference to John’s published books. It is a nod to the musical round, which is the gimmick of this song, and a wink at “I’m Only Sleeping”, which answers the question that “Frere Jacques” poses.


    4. Shelley Di Capri Says:

      I’ve always wondered if just my hearing things or if it’s really there … throughout Paperback Writer I can hear the insistent and random rhythm of a typewriter clacking away.

      Talking of backwards guitars, I swear there’s one in 8 Miles High.


      • Us Says:

        There IS a rhythmic tap-tap-tap of hi-hat at regular intervals throughout the song (likely an overdub).


    5. James Says:

      Hey Schmucks,

      I was the listener who suggested the “Paperback Writer/ Rain” episode. In any case, thanks for the show. You make a great point on the issue of a single being, in this case, a creative rather than a commercial marker. I like the city within the city and the capital with its satellites metaphors. If you set the single in a playlist at the center of the album it flows really well—“Rain” preceding “Good Day, Sunshine.” And yes, the bass! It’s absolutely luscious on these tracks.


    6. Cevin Says:

      This was the first show where I was a little disappointed. I felt there was an inappropriate interpretation of McCartney as “social climber” and “aspirer” because he was driven to better himself. McCartney was not trying to forsake his roots or become something other than himself and certainly wasn’t being a sell-out. Lennon said McCartney was more stable than the rest, but explicitly said he wasn’t “straight” meaning establishment.

      There is a general dismissiveness of Paul’s lyrics, including here, that causes people to miss his occasional brilliance. In the case of Paperback Writer, I was pleased to see you both picked up on the first part – that he was making fun of the person he speaks for, but you really need to take it one step forward to appreciate what the song is about.

      Keep in mind that there were dozens and dozens of Beatles rip off bands that came out after they arrived in America. Can you imagine how pathetic those people must have seemed to the Beatles? Who learns how to play a musical instrument only to voluntarily be a cheap knock off? George Harrison mistook the Kinks as one of those bands and said to Ray Davies at a show where the Kinks were opening, “I’ve lost my set list, can I borrow yours?” Davies never forgot the slight and wrote a bitter review of Revolver years later. The point is, McCartney was poking fun of those bands and others like them who are derivative and for hire. The song is both scathing and funny at the same time and the music echos that with its shredding bass and humorous background vocals, which also work as kind of a schoolyard taunt. I think you both missed it.


      • Cajun Queen Says:

        “but you really need to take it one step forward to appreciate what the song is about. Keep in mind that there were dozens and dozens of Beatles rip-off bands. . .”

        I dunno, it seems you are packing a whole ton of meaning into these lyrics, that might not be there. Did you mean that this is what the lyrics mean to you personally, or that you had read somewhere that McCart had said this is what the song it about?

        Also, I’d add that if some folks “miss his occasional brilliance” (is that even possible?, that just means they’re clueless, that’s all. His brilliance is more than occasional, and even if it doesn’t match Lennon all the time, he doesn’t owe any apologies to anyone.


        • Cevin Says:

          Thank you for letting me know that I need to explain things better. I appreciate your comments.

          When I said, “occasional brilliance” I meant that his lyrics are at times sublime and they are overlooked or worse. Case in point, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, which is persistently unfairly maligned. McCartney is brilliant most of the time and it is not fair to say he doesn’t match Lennon all the time because the same could be said about Lennon not matching McCartney all the time.

          As for your question about my analysis, that is fair and demands explication on my part. As far as “what it means to me personally” – that kind of analysis is garbage and nothing I wrote suggested I was writing about what the song means to me personally. Quite the contrary. I placed the song in a historical context that involved things the Beatles were directly experiencing and had even commented on. Richard and Robert rightly pointed out the components of the lyrics that reveal the song’s narrator to be poseur (writing paperbacks, working for the Daily Mail) who McCartney is making fun of, and I would also add the narrator’s willingness to change the text however it is requested as opposed to following one’s own muse. The fact is that dime store paperback writers were outside of the Beatles personal experience or concern, but the musicians who mimicked them were real and tangible and a regular occurrence. This is not what it means to me personally – this is a logical assessment based on the lyrics and the concerns of the author. The interpretation is consistent with both the lyrics and the attitudes and beliefs of the author and it is elegant in that the musical expression applies effortlessly. It should also be noted that artists often don’t translate their works because they don’t realize or believe it needs translating. Case in point, “All you need is love,” which the Beatles never explained themselves clearly on because they wrongly assumed everyone got it, but very few people understand their definition of “love” as they defined it at that time (and no, it is not the same abstract “love” sung about in “The Word”.)


          • Cajun Queen Says:

            “As for your question about my analysis, that is fair and demands explication on my part. As far as “what it means to me personally” – that kind of analysis is garbage and nothing I wrote suggested I was writing about what the song means to me personally.”

            well, like I was say, i was just asking: when you were writing about what YOU FELT the song meant, I was wondering if it was your own interpretation, or had you read somewhere about all that stuff about other bands etc etc. i.e. Your reading of the lyrics is rather unique — I’ve never seen that interpretation before, so was wondering if you came up with it on your own, or had you read it somewhere. So it sounds like it’s your own interpretation: I haven’t got a clue if that kind of analysis is garbage or not.

            As to Maxwell, yup it pretty broadly looked down on. Most people will say that’s because it’s pretty crappy; you say they all are wrong, that the song is unfairly maligned. That’s your personal interpretation — whether you wanna call it that or not — and you’re entitled to it.

            My interpretation? I think it’s pretty light, and should have been left off AR. (No room for both Maxwell *and* Octopus.) BUT, “Rose and Valerie, screaming from the gallery” is a pretty awesome rhyme, luv it. 🙂

            Oh yeah. All that stuff about AllYouNeedIsLove vs TheWord? I have no idea.


          • Angelica Says:

            Hey, I low key think Maxwells Silver Hammer is brilliant too! And of course Paul in general. What people call “light” I’m coming to view as “energetic,” “lively,” and “joyous.” Then again his music lyrically or otherwise can often have a tinge of sadness, simple wisdom, realism, or even anger, which adds depth, but the optimism is never far away… not a bad way to be at all.


    7. WingsFan2012 Says:

      Great show guys and one of the best A/B Sides the Beatles ever did. Would love to see a discussion/preview of the upcoming “Pepper 50th” box set. Advance copies are now out. Maybe a return of Tom Frangione too??? All the best guys!


    8. Pat Says:

      Paperback Writer also “influenced” Paul Revere and the Raiders (remember them). Listen to their song “Too Much Talk (And Not Enough Action)” on YouTube.


    9. Billy Shears Says:

      Is there any connection between Paperback Writer and PS I love you ?


    10. Billy Shears Says:

      PS: No mention of Ian Iachimoe ?
      Which is Paul McCartney pronounced backwards.


    11. Dr Robert Says:

      Another great Podcast…quality is always high with you two. This 7″ is my Fav Beatle single, so doing a whole show about it was inspired….
      Keep them coming. How about doing a show on The Beatles EP’s and the track listing therein. Be interesting as to why and who choose those tracks and did they have sign off from The Boys themselves, and of course where they different mixes to the albums they came off?.

      D Robert


    12. Cajun Queen Says:

      geesh, i finally got around to listening to this. One of the best episodes you’ve done. Just great. Tons of interesting little details


    13. Named Lear Says:

      I love your shows – this single is the first hit song I distinctly remember hearing at the time it came out (at six years old). I also remember liking both sides of this. So nearly every time I hear Paperback Writer a little bit of it takes my back to that time. It really was an exceptional year for music and I was lucky to become of aware of music then. Thank you for this show!


    14. Robert Rosen Says:

      Good show but I don’t think Robert or Richard ever mentioned who they think deserves the true credit for coming up with the backwards part for Rain. Lennon or George Martin?


    15. J Neo Marvin Says:

      I had never noticed before how much Child Of The Moon resembles Rain.


    16. Alan Liddell Says:

      Great show guys. I have just discovered this podcast and am working my way through the episodes.

      Where are you getting these takes from? That’s the first time I’ve heard the backing for Tain at its original speed. It’s fantastic hearing isolated guitar, bass and vocal lines too


    17. Alan Liddell Says:

      Rain not Tain 😀


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