Please Please Me

Album: Please Please Me (1963)
Charted: 2 3
Play Video


  • On this song, John Lennon asks a girl to please please him, just like he does for her. Many assumed he was referring to oral sex, but of course The Beatles denied this, since they had a very clean image to maintain at the time. Lennon said of the song: "I was always intrigued by the double use of the word 'please.'"
  • John Lennon, a big Roy Orbison fan, wrote this in the style of Orbison's overly dramatic singing, and on September 11, 1962, they recorded the song that way. Beatles producer George Martin suggested it would sound better sped up, with more pop appeal, so on November 26, they went back in the studio and cut the version that was released.

    In 2006, Martin told The Observer Music Monthly, "The songs the Beatles first gave me were crap. This was 1962 and they played a dreadful version of 'Please Please Me' as a Roy Orbison-style ballad. But I signed them because they made me feel good to be with them, and if they could convey that on a stage then everyone in the audience would feel good, too. So I took 'Love Me Do' and added some harmonica, but it wasn't financially rewarding even though Brian Epstein bought about 2,000 copies. Then we worked for ages on their new version of 'Please Please Me,' and I said: 'Gentlemen, you're going to have your first #1.'"

    Although in the UK, "Please Please Me" was officially a #2 record, three of the four charts used at the time - Melody Maker, NME and Disc - listed it #1. Only the Record Retailer chart had it at #2. Their next single, "From Me to You," became their first official #1.
  • This was the second Beatles single released in the UK (following "Love Me Do") and the first Bealtes single released in America; getting it issued there was a struggle. In the UK, it was released on the EMI-owned Parlophone label on January 11, 1963. After EMI's US affiliate, Capitol Records, rejected the song (and a lot of other early Beatles material), the small, Chicago-based Vee Jay label stepped in and released "Please Please Me" stateside on February 25, 1963. The Chicago radio station WLS made history by becoming the first American radio station to play a Beatles song when they put it on the air, but it had little impact - the song reached #35 on their "Silver Dollar Survey" the week of March 15, but then dropped out.

    Over the next few months, the group caught on in the UK, and by 1964 were ready to conquer America. On January 30, 1964, "Please Please Me" was again released in America as "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was on its way to becoming the group's first American chart-topper. "Please Please Me" made it to #3 on March 14, 1964.
  • The group's name was misspelled "Beattles" on the record label on the first American release of the single.
  • Typical for the verse in "Please Please Me," and for many of Lennon's songs are the long notes (legato) that are also used in hymns - even sounding a bit like Mendelssohn's Wedding March in A Midsummer Night's Dream. When Lennon was a little boy he used to go to church on Sunday. Afterwards he improvised his own counterpoints to the hymns.
  • The climbing in the melody "Come on, come on..." is similar to parts of two traditional folk songs: "New's Evens Song" and "Come Fair One." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Johan Cavalli, a music historian in Stockholm, for above 2
  • In the UK, this was re-released in 1983 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of it's initial release.
  • The Beatles performed this on their second Ed Sullivan Show appearance in 1964. Sullivan was not a fan of many rock groups, but loved The Beatles and had them on his show whenever he could.
  • An early version of this song with session drummer Andy White playing drums instead of Ringo can be found on Anthology 1.
  • The Please Please Me album was The Beatles debut long player. When they recorded it at Abbey Studios in London, John Lennon was struggling with a streaming cold and all were tired after a tour supporting Helen Shapiro. However with the help and encouragement of producer George Martin within nine hours and 45 minutes they had recorded their groundbreaking LP.

    The album was released to cash in on the success of this single in the UK. It took them about 12 hours to record, and was basically a re-creation of their live show, which was mostly cover songs. The album was released with the text "Please Please Me with Love Me Do and 12 other songs." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2
  • The Beatles performed this on Thank Your Lucky Stars on January 19, 1963. It was their first ever UK television appearance.
  • The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown revealed in an interview on the British TV program GMTV that this was the first record that he ever bought.
  • George Martin told Music Week magazine that the first time the Beatles played this to him, he wasn't very impressed. He recalled: "I listened to it and I said: 'Do you know that's too bloody boring for words? It's a dirge. At twice the speed it might sound reasonable.' They took me at my word. I was joking and they came back and played it to me sped up and put a harmonica on it, and it became their first big hit."
  • John Lennon was partly inspired by a line from a Bing Crosby song that read, "Please lend a little ear to my pleas." He recalled: "I remember the day I wrote it, I heard Roy Orbison doing "Only The Lonely" or something. And I was also always intrigued by the words to a Bing Crosby song that went, 'Please lend a little ear to my pleas.' The double use of the word 'please.' So it was a combination of Roy Orbison and Bing Crosby."

    Lennon was a big fan of Bing Crosby. In 1978, when Yoko gave him a vintage '50s Wurlitzer jukebox for his birthday, he loaded the machine with as many 78-rpm records by Crosby as he could find.
  • This is Keith Richards' favorite Beatles song. He told Jimmy Fallon: "I've always told McCartney, 'Please Please Me.' I just love the chimes, and I was there at the time and it was beautiful. Mind you, there's plenty of others, but if I've got to pick one, 'Please Please Me'… oh, yeah!"
  • Lennon-McCartney was the standard alphabetical credit for their Beatles songwriters compositions except on Please Please Me, where for reasons unknown, the names were reversed.

Comments: 43

  • Bob from MilanThe first Beatles appearance on British TV wasn' t Thank Your Lucky Stars - they performed Love Me Do on 5 O'clock Club in 1962.

    The NME review of the new single Please please me said - some people have hailed this as the greatest record of the year - but since it's still only February, maybe it's a bit too early to say!
  • Birdman_euston from London, UkThe first single (Love Me Do) had been OK, but the Beatles really burst into life as the greatest pop group ever when they played to George Martin the up-tempo version of Please Please Me. What a moment of music history when after the second take he came over the microphone from the control room to announce to the band that they had just recorded their first number one!
  • Trebor from TexasJohan-Love Me Do was number one in Australia and the United States and it was "Paul's song" (if you want to be petty about it). Doesn't that count? Or only when you count "John's songs??
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaFor some reason this is one of my fav Ringo drumming tunes.
  • Johan Cavalli from SwedenThe greatness of John Lennon's music, as I see it
    --The increasing tension. For example I Should Have Known Better. Before Lennon, all pop music structure was AABA, where the tension decreased in the middle part B. But with Lennon the tension from the verse continued in the middle part. Besides that, in this song it is not only a key change in the transition to the middle part, it is even a little key change in it. The increasing tension was what first characterized The Beatles. The first single where the verse lacked this increasing tension was Can't Buy Me Love. (But the chorus is OK). I didn't know then it was a McCartney composition. – Other ways of increasing tension by Lennon is to pack together several little songs: Happiness Is A Warm Gun consists of three or four songs, and Bring On The Lucie consists of three songs put together. For every "song", the tension increases--All You Need Is Love has another way of increasing tension: First talking, then repeating half singing, then singing, and finally the climax in chorus.
    --The melody does not changes, but the background. For example in Strawberry Fields Forever and in Julia the singing melody uses the same notes, but instead the accompaniment changes! Listen to Puccini. He got tired of his sang melodies in Boheme and in Tosca he composed a lot where the sang melodies are often on the same notes, but the background changes instead. The effect can be stronger.

    Three long notes. Very, very typical for Lennon is three long notes in succession. It's wonderful. For example "give my heart…" in If I Fell, "…I'm so glad…" in I Feel Fine ", "…hard days night…" in A Hard Days Night", "…take my place…" in I'm Happy Just To Dance with You and "…love love love…" in All You Need Is Love.
    --Octave Leap. For example, in the middle part of Please Please Me, Lennon makes an octave run in "…it's so hard to reason with YOU…", the climax of the song. George Martin didn't understand the quality in that. In his orchestration of it in Off The Beatle Track, Martin excludes the octave, the most important bit of the song!
    --Verse and resolve. Typical for Lennon is a melody with increasing tension followed by a resolve, for example in No Reply "…I saw the light!"…and in Girl "…titti titti titti girl!". Lennon said that "a good song must have climax and a resolve". He thought that Yesterday is a good song, but perhaps it lacks climax and resolve.
    --Only one chord. In Tomorrow Never Knows there is only one chord, or bass note, an innovation in pop music. In the Middle Ages it was common with that bordun note, an unchanged bass note. When Lennon played the song the first time for George Martin, Martin didn't like it.
    --Whole-tone scale. Most scales have both whole step and half steps between the notes in an octave. In the verse in Norwegian Wood, there is most whole steps, and that's like the impressionists, for example Debussy. It sounds very clean.
    --Church Modes. A Hard Day's Night is written in the mixolydian mode, an ancient vocal scale, preserved in British, Irish and American folk song. --If you play the beginning of Please Please Me slowly, you can hear the similarities with the Westminster bells ringing. When Lennon was a little boy, he loved visiting the divine services. Afterwards he used to improvise anthem music. Westminster bells could unconsciously have inspired him to the beginning of Please Please Me. There is also anthem music in the beginning of All You Need Is Love: "love love love…".
    --The lamentation second. A little half step up in the scale. And that's to indicate a pain. In All You Need Is Love Lennon sings the refrain twice unchanged and then suddenly the third time, rises a little, a very expressive and important step up. That step up started in the baroque epoch, and was called The lamentation second. When Lennon played it the first time to George Martin, Martin didn't like it, he didn't understand the quality. He leaned towards McCartney and muttered: "It's certainly repetitive".
    --From darkness to light. Happiness Is a Warm Gun starts with a little melancholy, and ends with enthusiasm.—In the middle part of I Am The Walrus the darkness switches over to light: "sitting in an English garden…". And the transition from the chaos and darkness in Revolution 9 to the light in Good Night. That is very typical in Wagner's music. I think that temperamentally the two were similar. And I think Wagner would have loved the arrangement in Glass Onion.
    --Suggestive and hypnotic music. With small intervals between the notes in combination with some dissonance chord, Lennon can create a suggestive and hypnotic feeling in for example Across The Universe. It is more like Wagner than pop music.
    --Few notes. With few, but effective notes, Lennon can create more feeling than McCartney with all his notes, for example in If I Fell and Love.
    --A melody sang three times, in succession, with just a little change every time. When you hear it you can get frustrated or desperate not getting out from the melody. That we have in the middle part in I Call Your Name and in the middle part in And Your Bird Can Sing. And at the same time the melodies are stick together with a countermelody at the guitar. Rather hypnotically.
    --Melodies without joint. Innovation. When repeating the verse melody in Any Time At All, the first note is the same note as the last note in the first verse: "…there is nothing I won't DO if need a shoulder to cry on…"
    --The most excellent and lovely melodies in the middle part of Bad to Me, the middle part of This Boy, the middle part of Yes It Is, and the middle part of Nobody Loves You.
  • Roy from Slough, United KingdomThat must mean that the song " My boy lollipop by Milly" is about oral sex.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 1st 1963, The Beatles played at the Gaumont Cinema in Bradford, Yorkshire...
    It was the opening night of a Helen Shapiro tour; and the Beatles were the last on six-act tour bill...
    "Please Please Me" was the only original song they performed, the others were cover versions ("Chains", "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby" and "A Taste of Honey".
  • Johan from Stockholm, SwedenPlease please me was Lennon´s first number one hit in the Beatles. After that he had these following number one hits with the Beatles:
    Do You Want to Know a Secret, I Should Have Known Better (Norway), A Hard Day´s Night, If I Fell (Norway), I Feel Fine, Ticket to Ride, Help, Nowhere man ((Australia and Canada), All You Need Is Love, The Ballad of John and Yoko and Come Together. = That´s 12 hits.

    The covers from Lennon, reaching number one:
    Bad to Me, Billy J. Kramer, Do You Want to Know a Secret, Billy J. Kramer, You´r Gonna Loose That Girl, Stars On 45,
    I´ll Be Back, Stars On 45, No Reply, Stars on 45, and I Don´t Want to Spoil the Party, Rosanna Cash. = that´s 6 hits

    With the Beatles McCartney had: Can´t Buy Me Love, Eight Days Week, Yesterday, Paperback Writer, Penny Lane, Hello GoodBye, Hey Jude, Get Back, Let It Be and The Long And Winding Road. = 10 hits

    If I Fell (Norway)
    I Feel Fine
    Ticket to Ride
    Nowhere Man (Australia and Canada)
    All You Need Is Love
    Come Together
    The Ballad of John and Yoko
  • David from London, United KingdomOne thing - a man performing oral sex on a woman was not very common in the early 1960s in Liverpool - a "provincial" city as we say in the UK, not a part of the sophisticated metropolis of London. Much more likely to be the hand down in that area causing the orgasm...and he's asking for a reciprocal arrangement.
  • Allyson from Waverly, NyOne of my favorite songs by them!! <3
  • Johan from Stockholm, SwedenRefering to what I wrote latest, I will make it clearer. They cared for that everybody for many many years wrongly thougt that McCartney was the Beatles composer. That led at last to the split of the Beatles. All writers of books and articles thought that for many years. See for example what Ned Rorem wrote in "The New York of Review of Books, January 1968 and see the article in "Readers Digest" 1968. Nobody writes about it, just Albert Goldman a little, see page 392 in his book from 1988. Lennon was depressed; "Most people thought it was all Paul or George Martin".
  • Johan from Stockholm, SwedenIn the 11 singles and 5 albums 1962-1965 - before Yesterday - Lennon was the dominant composer, but nobody knew. Not even George Martin knew that Lennon was the composer of "Please PLease Me" (The book "Northern Songs", Southall and Perry, 2006, page 102). There was a kind of "Dont tell anybody". But when "Yesterday" was realised 1965 George Martin and McCartney cared for that the whole world at once knew that McCartney was the composer, and they cared for many many years that McCartney was the Beatles composer. One of the biggest scandals in Music History
  • Roy from Leeds, United KingdomPlease Please Me was not a numbr one in UK, officially
  • Megan from Stevenson, AlOh my! AMAZING! Absolutely love this song, album, and band!!! Best music ever made!!!
  • Christopher from Marlboro, NjDavid Cassidy did his own version of this song. Not bad. I liked it.
  • Claire from Colorado Springs, Cowhen the beatles released their first single, 10,000 people joined rock groups because they wanted to be like the beatles. On that same day, 10,000 people quit their rock groups because they realized that the beatles were way better then them. BEATLES FOR EVER!!!!
  • Valentin from Beijing, ChinaKeith Richards also recorded it, his version is kinda funny because of his humming instead of full voice singing %)
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyIn the fall of 1963 the 50,000 watt power house radio station WKBW out of Buffalo, NY had this song on it's play list. One of the DJs pronounced the group's name as though it were two words; "Here are The Beat Less", I used think what kind of group has a name like The Beat Less!!!
  • Russell from Bridgnorth, United KingdomIt wasn't only Roy Orbison who inspired the song, in Lennon's own words: "I remember the day I wrote it, I heard Roy Orbison doing "Only the Lonely", or something. And I was also always intrigued by the words to a Bing Crosby song that went, 'Please lend a little ear to my pleas'. The double use of the word 'please'. So it was a combination of Roy Orbison and Bing Crosby".[
  • Samuel from Kilsyth, United KingdomI have been reading all the "Gossip" sent in about this song, and HONESTLY, Most of it is "CRAP", (you should get your `Facts Right`)Before you Write Down, what you`ve `Read` or What you`ve been told. Here are the `TRUE FACTS`. This Song `PLEASE PLEASE ME`, was more like a (Roy Orbison Ballad), When George Martin heard it, it sounded a Bit Dreary, for his liking, so he Asked them if they could UP-Tempo it, which was done to `Such Affect`,And The RESULT was Their "1st NUMBER ONE", (And may I point out),It Was "NOT BANNED",when first Released,in the UK, (as some guy said),So "PLEASE PLEASE" us ALL, By Getting your `FACTS RIGHT`, Before Commenting on a Song OR Group, and Leave ALL the `INNUENDO`,OUT Of It, Thanks.
  • Carrie from Roanoke, VaI can see how this song could be about sex (even oral sex). He says "Please please me like I pleased you." He gave his girl and orgasm and she didn't return the favor. The "don't make me blue" line is obviously about blue balls. I don't usually go looking for prurient meanings in songs, but with this one, the sexual content is right there on the surface.
  • Syd Malone from Liverpool, United Kingdombest beatles song of all time, no doubt, that or love me do
  • Mark from Vancouver, BcI was just listening to the mono "Beatles' Hits" Ep version of "Please Please Me". The vocals ,obviously, are from another take of the song. This is without John's flubbed lyric near the end. But there is is another fascinating quirk here. I noticed a rather sloppy edit near the end, like the tape was damaged during editing. I find little things like this make the recording more endearing. It was about the spirit of the song. It wasn't necessarily about perfection which can be the folly of the mainstream recording industry these days. I find the independent acts I support tend to have more of the spirit the Fabs had.
  • Dakota from Mansfield, OhI think this song was very RISKAY at the time it came out. So was I am the walrus and a day in the life. I am the walrus wasn't allowed to be played over the BBC in 1967.
  • John from Liverpool, EnglandWhen this was released in the UK it was banned from airplay by the BBC and denounced by the Church for its suggestive lyrics. Everyone thought it was about sex. (Well perhaps there were a few exceptions)
  • Paul from London, EnglandThis was not "officially a #2 record". It got to number 1. The Beatles at the time considered it a number 1, as did their friends, family, fans and over 99% of the British public. All the radio stations announced it as number one. Every biography until the late 80s had it as number 1. Record Retailer meant nothing to most people at the time. The number 2 fallacy comes from Guinness chart books which have rewritten history, and even EMI fell for it by leaving it off the "1" album.

    In a competition, if all 6 judges but one named Miss X a winner, but that one judge went on to write a bestselling book of the event 20 years later detailing that Miss X had not won, and that became the common perception, it still wouldn't mean that Miss X had not won.

  • Zhane` from New York City, NyI love the Beatles they are so coooooooooooooool.
  • Sam from Portsmouth, VaI read somewhere that John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote this song because since all the other Beatles songs didn't sound poppy enough, the record label told them if they couldn't write a pop song, then they would have to release a single a studio songwriter had written for them (the Beatles were only interested in writing and releasing their own songs).
  • Sal from Bardonia , NyThis song broke the Beatles in the U.K and it was the first major hit song by a Merseybeat group beating Gerry and the Pacemakers by a couple of months and it was first number one album by a Merseybeat group.
    Sal,Bardonia. NY
  • Julian from Anaheim, CaWhen I saw Paul in 05 he sang a great version of this song!
  • John from Hartford, CtIt maybe about sex.
    "Oh please, please me like I pleased you"
    What is Lennon saying?
    I dont look for sex in every song but......
  • Ken from Louisville, KyAt their first recording session (for "Love Me Do") John and Paul tried to convince George Martin to let them record this song, but Martin considered it too slow and bluesy. For their second session, John and Paul changed the arraignment to something more "pop". Martin liked it, but by speeding up the tempo, the song was barely a minute and a half long. He suggested repeating the first verse at the end to "pad" the song to 2 minutes.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyAfter the second take, George Martin got on the studio intercom and said "Gentlemen, you have just recorded your first number one!" Well, he was close!
  • Lee from Clearwater, FlCan't it just be a rock n roll song about a guy wanting his girl to please him? Does it have to be about drugs, or oral sex etc. "please me sexually, or please me by going to the dance with me, or by being my steady.
  • Roman from Vilnius, Otherno guyes it's really was a rumor about oral sex =D
    the EMI refused to realise album just because of text sexuality... it written in book =)
  • Jo-c from Lima, PeruYes Liliana, I hate it when people start getting just the wrong message from songs to make it sound like "drugs" or "sex", when its just love
  • Mark from Barrow-in-furness, EnglandOn my Please Please Me album: The writing credits on their songs go to McCartney/Lennon instead of the later established Lennon/McCartney....Twit+Shout is dead good.
  • Charlie from Cape Girardeau, MoProducer George Martin was not aware of the songwriting talents of Lennon/McCartney and had wanted them to record "How Do You Do It?" at this session. The Beatles lobbied to do their own "Please Please Me". As soon as he heard the first few bars, according to Martin, "I knew it was going to be number one." "How Do You Do It?" can be heard on the Anthology I album, but wasn't released by the Beatles. Instead it went to Gerry and the Pacemakers, and ironically, it was number one for them.
  • Mauricio from Hanford, CaYo billy, The Beatles are awsome buddy!
  • Liliana from Huntley, Iloh please, any love song can be said to be about "oral sex"
  • Deana from Indianapolis, InI can see how it was about oral sex
  • Steve from Willmar, MnHe got the idea from a Frank Sinatra song-double words
  • Gene from Hammond, InI have heard two versions of this song. On one version, you can plainly hear John blow the words in the last verse. Don't know why they ever released that version, but it sure makes them seem "more human" making mistakes on their recordings!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk: Rock vs. Televangelists

Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk: Rock vs. TelevangelistsSong Writing

When televangelists like Jimmy Swaggart took on rockers like Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica, the rockers retaliated. Bono could even be seen mocking the preachers.

Gary Numan

Gary NumanSongwriter Interviews

An Electronic music pioneer with Asperger's Syndrome. This could be interesting.

Mike Scott of The Waterboys

Mike Scott of The WaterboysSongwriter Interviews

The stories behind "Whole Of The Moon" and "Red Army Blues," and why rock music has "outlived its era of innovation."


LecraeSongwriter Interviews

The Christian rapper talks about where his trip to Haiti and his history of addiction fit into his songs.

Yacht Rock!

Yacht Rock!Song Writing

A scholarly analysis of yacht rock favorites ("Steal Away," "Baker Street"...) with a member of the leading YR cover band.

80s Video Director Jay Dubin

80s Video Director Jay DubinSong Writing

Billy Joel and Hall & Oates hated making videos, so they chose a director with similar contempt for the medium. That was Jay Dubin, and he has a lot to say on the subject.