Written by: Paul McCartney & John Lennon
Released: October 5th, 1962
Appears on: Please Please Me
Lead vocal: Paul
The reason why John & Paul felt that backing vocal harmonies were so important was because of, what I call, "The Buddy Holly Effect". The two believed (as many other kids in 1957 and 1958) that the Crickets and Buddy were one in the same. The Crickets were not only Buddy's backing group, but they were his back-up singers...or so they thought. It turns out that Norman Petty (Holly's producer whose name is attached to virtually every song Buddy recorded) hired session back-up singers to supply the harmonies.
Anyway, how were they supposed to know? It probably would have crushed their dreams and visions of Buddy Holly as an innovator. (The truth is Holly is an innovator and is to this day, but it just proves that even he wasn't immune to the music business of 1957.)
The Beatles' harmonies have always been an important part of their legacy, yet somehow it is overlooked. Yeah, they were technological wizards with Sgt. Pepper and great songwriters, but nobody goes on about their harmonies.
For their first B-Side, they flexed their harmonic muscle with Paul's magnificent "P.S. I Love You". Sure, the idea of writing a song about love letters was kind of a cliche at the time ("Return To Sender" or "Please Mr. Postman", a song the boys covered), but add harmonies and a unique perspective and you've got one heck of a song that never gets old.
Plus, the truth is, the idea that Paul was the cute one lays its' foundation here. He has a magnificent vocal here. Just listen to the way he sings "P.S. I love you....you....you...YOU!" Another thing that you hear is unique instrumentation, with Ringo on maracas (and Alan White on drums...again, a coming attraction). There's no harmonica here and George's lead guitar part is much better, although it sounds like a standard 1950's riff....almost bordering on some Latin-type idea.
So, after looking at the Beatles' first 45, we see that they already started to blaze a trail, albeit one that itsn't noticed by much of the British public. Granted, it reached #17, but it would take one more for them to become household names.
Also, there's the fact that both of them were written by members of the band, which was such a rare thing then. Now we shrug off this fact as it has become the norm. (Although, I personally think it is starting to revert back...) Even though the two songs do not do much to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack, it is a good start. Besides, how many other 45s from 1962 do we still remember?