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Listen to “Misery”

JOHN 1980: “It was kind of a John song, more than a Paul song… but it was written together.”

PAUL 1988: “John and I were a songwriting team, and what songwriting teams did in those days was wrote for everyone. ‘Misery’ was for Helen Shapiro, and she turned it down. It may not have been that successful for her because it’s rather a downbeat song… ‘the world is treating me bad, misery.’ It was quite pessimistic. And in the end Kenny Lynch did it. Kenny used to come out on tour with us, and he used to sing it. That was one of his minor hits.”

About “Misery”

“Misery” was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney together. When Ken Lynch did a single of this song in 1963, it became the first song of the Beatles to be recorded by someone other than the Beatles.

It was during Helen Shapiro’s tour of the United Kingdom in February 1963 that The Beatles joined the artist on the bill and performed on the fifth position as part of the artist’s nationwide tour of the country.

She was looking for new material for a country and western album she was going to record in Nashville, Tennessee, and her artist and repertoire manager, Norrie Paramor, suggested that the Beatles compose a song especially for her for the album. As part of The Beatles’ performance at the King’s Hall, Stoke-on-Trent, on 26 January 1963, “Misery” was started backstage before the performance, and it was later completed in Paul McCartney’s Forthlin Road home.

In 11 takes, the Beatles recorded “Misery” on 11 February 1963 during their marathon recording session. The engineer for the project was Norman Smith. At a later date, George Martin played the piano solo, which was added to the recorded track at half speed an octave below, and he preferred to record this at half speed so that it would sound correct at normal speed when mixed.

Meaning of “Misery”

The lyrics of “Misery” express feelings of heartbreak and longing. The narrator is in a state of emotional distress due to a failed relationship. They’re lamenting the pain and sadness caused by the end of the romance.

Lines like “The world is treating me bad… I’m so sad” and “I’ll remember all the little things we’ve done” convey a sense of sorrow and nostalgia for the lost relationship.

“Misery” is a poignant reflection on the emotional pain of a failed romance. It’s a testament to the band’s ability to convey universal emotions through Beatles’ music, even in their early years.


  • John Lennon – lead vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar
  • Paul McCartney – lead vocals, bass guitar
  • George Harrison – lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums
  • George Martin – piano

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