Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Released: June 10, 1966
Appears on: Past Masters, Vol. 2
Lead vocal: Paul
"Paaapaaah Back Writerrrr....writer...writer"
When I said in the last entry that, from now on, the world would never be the same, this is not an over-exaggeration. "Paperback Writer" b/w "Rain" was the first 45 issued in the UK by the Beatles that was not a love song. Still, the British public seemed to like it, as did Americans.
The song's subject is about as far from what one would expect a rock song to be about. It's basically a pitch for a writer's paperback book. Of course, the singer realized right away that he wasn't going to get a hardcover deal, especially when we're talking about a dirty story of a dirty man, who's clinging wife doesn't understand.
Technically, this song is amazing. The main highlight, of course, is Paul's bass playing. Anytime you want to prove how incredible he is at the instrument, just play them "Paperback Writer" at the loudest possible setting on your player. No need to put the bass boost up, because Geoff Emmerick already did that for you in 1966.
When you talk about the song's vocals, I don't really think Paul does any better than he normally does, but the backing vocals are definitely worthy of note. Especially the "Frere Jacques" joke, which is brilliant.
The track made its first LP appearance later that year on A Collection of Beatles Oldies in the UK, but didn't appear on a US LP until 1970's Hey Jude. Since then, it has appeared on 1962-1966, 20 Greatest Hits and 1. Despite being one of their heaviest songs, Capitol glossed over it on Rock 'N' Roll Music.
The Beatles also made the very first promo films for this 45. The studio performances that were distributed to TV for songs like "We Can Work It Out" and "Ticket To Ride" were just that - mimed performances. However, Michael Lindsay-Hogg's brilliant videos for the two songs hardly ever show The Beatles miming the song. They are both in the Anthology.
I really think this was a brilliant single release. Neither side of the 45 could possibly fit on their next album...but at the same time, it was definitely a preview. Also, had the 45 not had the misfortune of being released the same year as "Good Vibrations", this would have to have been the single of 1966 (and remember how many other great 45s came out that year!).