- Published on 1964
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 7 on “A Hard Day’s Night“
- Track 7 on “1962 ‐ 1966 (Red Album)“
JOHN 1972: “John and Paul, but mainly Paul.”
JOHN 1980: “That’s Paul completely. Maybe I had something to do with the chorus, but I don’t know. I always considered it his song.”
PAUL 1984: “We recorded it in France, as I recall. Went over to the Odeon in Paris. Recorded it over there. Felt proud because Ella Fitzgerald recorded it, too, though we didn’t realize what it meant that she was doing it.”
PAUL circa-1994: “‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ is my attempt to write a bluesy mode. The idea behind it was that all these material possessions are all very well but they won’t buy me what I really want.”
About “Can’t Buy Me Love”
“Can’t Buy Me Love” was released in March 1964 as the A-side of their sixth single. It was written by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. The song was included on the group’s album A Hard Day’s Night and was featured in a scene in Richard Lester’s film of the same title. The single topped charts in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and Sweden. In the UK, it was the fourth highest selling single of the 1960s.
While in Paris, the Beatles stayed at the five-star George V hotel and had an upright piano moved into one of their suites so that songwriting could continue. It was here that McCartney wrote “Can’t Buy Me Love”. The song was written under the pressure of the success achieved by “I Want to Hold Your Hand“, which had just reached number one in America.
When producer George Martin first heard “Can’t Buy Me Love”, he felt that the song needed changing: “I thought that we really needed a tag for the song’s ending, and a tag for the beginning; a kind of intro. So I took the first two lines of the chorus and changed the ending, and said ‘Let’s just have these lines, and by altering the second phrase we can get back into the verse pretty quickly.’” And they said: “That’s not a bad idea, we’ll do it that way”. The song’s verse is a twelve-bar blues in structure, a formula that the Beatles seldom applied to their own material.
Meaning of “Can’t Buy Me Love”
The lyrics of “Can’t Buy Me Love” convey a message about the value of true love and human connection over material possessions. The song essentially asserts that money and wealth cannot buy genuine affection or happiness. It’s a declaration that the most important things in life are beyond monetary measure.
The chorus, “Can’t buy me love, oh / Can’t buy me love, oh / Can’t buy me love, oh / I’ll buy you a diamond ring, my friend, if it makes you feel all right,” juxtaposes the idea of material offerings with the notion that love itself cannot be purchased.
The song’s message is one of prioritizing authentic human connections and experiences over material wealth.
- Paul McCartney – double-tracked vocal, bass
- John Lennon – acoustic rhythm guitar
- George Harrison – double-tracked lead guitar, twelve-string guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums
How to play “Can’t Buy Me Love” on guitar
“Can’t Buy Me Love” features a distinctive guitar riff that is one of the song’s most recognizable elements. The riff is played on a 12-string Rickenbacker guitar by George Harrison. It is a prominent and catchy musical motif that repeats throughout the song. It is characterized by its bright and jangly tone, which is characteristic of the 12-string guitar. It provides a lively and upbeat feel that complements the song’s lyrics about the importance of love over material wealth.
In addition to the riff, there are also rhythm guitar parts that provide a solid foundation for the song. These rhythm guitar parts help drive the tempo and provide a sense of groove. The guitar work in “Can’t Buy Me Love” is a key element that contributes to the song’s infectious and memorable sound. George Harrison’s playing, along with the rest of the band’s tight musicianship, is a testament to their musical prowess.
The following video features tab of rhythm and lead guitar of “Can’t Buy Me Love”:
How to play “Can’t Buy Me Love” on bass
In “Can’t Buy Me Love” by the Beatles, Paul McCartney’s bass playing is dynamic and integral to the song’s overall groove and energy. McCartney’s bassline in “Can’t Buy Me Love” is characterized by its driving and melodic nature. It features a bouncy rhythm that complements the upbeat tempo of the song. The bassline also incorporates melodic runs and fills that add musicality and depth to the overall arrangement.
One of the notable features of McCartney’s bass playing in this song is its syncopated feel. He often accents off-beats, which adds a lively and danceable quality to the music. This syncopation creates a sense of movement and contributes to the song’s infectious rhythm. McCartney’s bass playing in “Can’t Buy Me Love” is a prime example of his skill as a bassist and his ability to craft memorable and inventive basslines. It plays a crucial role in shaping the song’s sound and is an important element in the Beatles’ iconic musical style.
The following video features the bassline tab of “Can’t Buy Me Love”:
“Can’t Buy Me Love” karaoke
For those who want to try singing “Can’t Buy Me Love” the following video features the karaoke version of the song: