- Published in 1966
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 24 on “1962 ‐ 1966 (Red Album)“
- Track 3 on “Past Masters Volume 2“
JOHN 1972: “Paul. I think I might have helped with some of the lyrics, Yes, I did. But it was mainly Paul’s tune.”
JOHN 1980: “‘Paperback Writer’ is son of ‘Day Tripper’ …meaning a rock ‘n roll song with a guitar lick on a fuzzy loud guitar.”
PAUL circa-1994: “I arrived at Weybridge and told John I had this idea of trying to write off to a publishers to become a paperback writer, and I said, ‘I think it should be written like a letter.’ I took a bit of paper out and I said it should be something like, ‘Dear Sir or Madam, as the case may be…’ and I proceeded to write it just like a letter in front of him, occasionally rhyming it… And then we went upstairs and put the melody to it. John and I sat down and finished it all up, but it was tilted towards me– the original idea was mine. I had no music, but it’s just a little bluesy song, not alot of melody. Then I had the idea to do the harmonies, and we arranged that in the studio.”
About “Paperback Writer”
“Paperback Writer” was written primarily by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership, the song was released as the A-side of their eleventh single (backed by “Rain“) on May 30, 1966, in the United Kingdom and on June 10, 1966, in the United States.
“Paperback Writer” was not initially released on a studio album, but it later appeared on the “Hey Jude” compilation album in 1970. It is primarily classified as a rock song, but it also has elements of pop and folk rock. The song is characterized by its catchy melody, memorable bassline (played by Paul McCartney), and tight harmonies, which were hallmarks of the Beatles’ style.
It topped singles charts in the United Kingdom, the United States, Ireland, West Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. On the US Billboard Hot 100, the song was at number one for two non-consecutive weeks, being interrupted by Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night”. The Beatles made promotional videos for “Paperback Writer” and “Rain,” which were some of the earliest examples of what would later be called music videos.
“Paperback Writer” was the last new song by the Beatles to be featured on their final tour in 1966. The song was largely written by Paul McCartney, who based the lyrics on a challenge made to him by his Aunt Lil. McCartney said in 1966: “Years ago, my Auntie Lil said to me, ‘Why do you always write songs about love all the time? Can’t you ever write about a horse or the summit conference or something interesting?’ So, I thought, ‘All right, Auntie Lil.’” The inspiration for the song came backstage at a concert venue when McCartney, mindful of his aunt’s request, saw Ringo Starr reading a book and declared his intention to write a song about a book.
The lyrics are written in the form of a letter from an aspiring author to a publisher. McCartney completed the song with John Lennon in April 1966, early in the sessions for the band’s Revolver album, in response to pressure from EMI. McCartney came up with the concept for the song while driving from London to Lennon’s Surrey house, intrigued by the rhythmic possibilities of “paperback writer”.
“Paperback Writer” remains an enduring favorite among Beatles fans and is often celebrated as one of the band’s most accomplished and memorable composition
Meaning of “Paperback Writer”
“Paperback Writer” tells the story of an aspiring author who is seeking to get his work published. The lyrics depict the frustration and determination of this writer as he tries to convince a publisher to take a chance on his writing.
The protagonist is essentially making a pitch to a publisher, trying to sell his idea and demonstrate his skills as a writer. He emphasizes his desire to become a successful author and to see his work in print, even going so far as to state that he’s willing to change his style to suit the market.
The song captures the universal ambition of many writers and artists to have their work recognized and published, while also acknowledging the challenges and obstacles they may face in the process.
“Paperback Writer” can be seen as a reflection on the aspirations, struggles, and determination of creative individuals who are trying to break into the world of publishing and achieve success in their chosen field.
- Paul McCartney – lead vocal, lead guitar (riff), bass
- John Lennon – backing vocal, tambourine
- George Harrison – backing vocal, rhythm guitar, lead guitar (fills)
- Ringo Starr – drums