Misery

Album: Please Please Me (1963)
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Songfacts®:

  • John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote this for Helen Shapiro, a 16-year-old singer who toured with The Beatles in 1963. Her management rejected the song, but another singer on that tour, Kenny Lynch, did record it, becoming the first person to cover a Lennon/McCartney song. The Beatles recorded it themselves when they needed material for their Please Please Me album, which was quickly released in the UK to capitalize on the success of their first two singles: "Please Please Me" and "Love Me Do."

    Kenny Lynch had a successful career as a recording artist in the UK, with seven Top 40 hits, including the #10 charting cover of The Drifters' "Up on The Roof." Later Lynch became better known as a TV presenter and songwriter (he co-wrote Small Faces' #3 hit "Sha La La La Lee"). Lynch established another link with McCartney when he appeared on the sleeve of Wings' Band on the Run album.
  • The Beatles were in such a rush to cram material on the new Please Please Me album that they picked up several covers. One was written by Brill Building legends Gerry Goffin and Carole King, titled "Chains"; another was The Shirelles' hit "Boys." "Misery" was one of the eight original songs on the album.
  • Turning down a Lennon/McCartney song seems a little ridiculous, but Helen Shapiro, whom they wrote this song for, was a top-selling female vocalist in the UK, and was putting together a country-western album and her manager contacted The Beatles to ask if they could write a song for her. They offered him "Misery," but he turned it down as it didn't fit her sound. The Beatles weren't a huge deal at the time, so the manager didn't see the potential in the song.
  • This song also appears on the sought-after EP single The Beatles (No. 1), which features this song, "I Saw Her Standing There," "Anna (Go to Him)," and "Chains."
  • The American release of the Please Please Me album was Introducing... The Beatles. Compare and contrast the two album covers for an idea of how they were marketed; the UK cover has a playful shot of the Fab Four peeking over a balcony, while the US cover has a far more conventional pose standing and sitting in suits that make them almost seem like a '50s doo-wop group. Can't go scaring those conservative Americans by making your group seem to "challenging," now.

Comments: 26

  • The Great Wok from Pensacola, FlI'm still working on the Beatles book! lol
  • Jennifur Sunused to have the old Ep and love the piano part too
  • Megan from Stevenson, AlGreat song! It's just so catchy. Great sing along:) lol
  • Nowhere Man from Nowhere Land, WaI like the piano part.
  • Daevid from Glendale, CaI think it's ironic that the melody to "Misery" is actually a happy little tune despite such melancholy lyrics.
    A great early contribution in their unprecidented songwriting careers.
  • Bianca Sanchez from Alburquerque, Nmi Love when Paul and John sing "SHend her back to me." i Love that Great song, one of my favourites
  • The Great Wok from Longview, TxThe Great Wok Jr. no longer lives with The Great Wok! lol
  • Kayla from Nashville, Tni love this song its a sweet song
  • The Great Wok from Longview, Txwell it may look like im the great wok(my last comment but im actually the great wok Jr. living with the great wok ;)
  • The Great Wok from Longview, Txi definetly agree with the great wok its make more sense than anything ive heard so far
  • The Great Wok from Longview, TxRoman, I doubt very much that you'll find my comments regarding the meaning or inspiration behind the song "Misery" documented in any publication. But stay tuned, I'm working on a book that will cover this song as well as other Beatle tunes. Lee, I'm sorry to hear of your Mom's passing, but I'm sure you'll always feel her presence through the sound of music (such as the song Misery)and other precious memories you have a her.
  • Catherine from Essex, United Kingdomi think this songs amazing, like every single beatles song, but its not my favourite on the album. i think the please please me album is underrated . the beatles are all equal and wil live forever
  • Steve from Fenton, MoA nice song by John. It used to be one of my favorites on the old Beatles cartoon show on Saturday morning.
  • John from Gainesville, FlI've never heard the realtionship with John's mom's death... Interesting. And yes, I LOVE this song!!!
  • Asef from Silkeborg, DenmarkThe song appears on two Beatles albums:"Please please me" and on the American version of "Rarities".
  • Joe from Lethbridge, CanadaI love this song. I think it's my favourite pre-1966.
  • Ian from Lethbridge, CanadaReally? Cool! Someone else said that Can't Buy Me Love was the first song entered.
  • Arthur from Sydney, AustraliaThe third song entered into the Songfacts database.
  • Lee from Clearwater, FlMy mother and I used to sing this song together from the time I was 13 until 56. We sort of bonded with that song. She passed away this year, and the song will always remind me of her. I was amazed by what The Great wok wrote. I thought I was the only person who equated the song to a/my/johns mother.
  • Carlos from Milpitas, CaHas anybody else heard Placebo's "Special K?" The part where they sing "Gravity, no escaping gravity"(at 1:36) sounds like the part where the Beatles sing "Misery." I think I'm crazy.
  • Roman from Vilnius, Otherquestion about comments of: The Great wok, Longview, TX
    from where did you took that fact? I can't find anything like this in any Guide i ever had...
  • Barry from New York, NcAlthough it sounds like a Lennon solo vocal, both Lennon and McCartney are singing with matching voices. Another simply amazing Beatles phenomenon that no other group has matched before or since.
    LISTEN TO THE SONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Mauricio from Hanford, CaAwsome song, but sad.
  • Benjamin from Cheverly, MdAn average song, the piano just doesn't fit
  • The Great Wok from Longview, TxThe tempo of the song effectively hides the meaning of the song. The song makes reference to the untimely death of Julia Lennon, John's mother and expresses John's feelings about losing her for good this time....."I've lost her now for sure.....I won't see her no more." The song even hints that John may have prayed for her with a lyric such as...."send her back to me".
  • Fred from Summit, NeWhen Helen's manager turned the song down, it was offered to Kenny Lynch, who was appearing on the same tour. It became the first Beatle song to be recorded by a non-Beatle. However, the song's performance was disappointing, leading only to "Misery"...
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