The first single available to the UK buying public in 1966 was a pair of great new original Lennon/McCartney compositions. One was mainly by Paul (the A side) and the other was mainly written by John (the B side). The A side was entitled "Paperback Writer" and the B side was entitled "Rain". The single was released on June 10 1966. Oddly enough, this single entered the charts at number two (in the UK) and was the first single to do so since "She Loves You". All singles in between had entered the British charts at number one. Another statistic is that this first 1966 single was the lowest selling single for the Beatles since "Love Me Do", but regardless it still made it to number one not just in the UK but all over the world. Both are heavy rock songs and sound excellent. This was due to the fact that the Beatles had aquired a new engineer for the sessions. Gone was Norman Smith which therefore caused the arrival of Geoff Emerick. Both men have contrubuted greatly to the sound of the Beatles. The book "Recording the Beatles" from Curvebender Publishing is highly recommeneded for those to seek to understand all of the equipment used for the sessions and how the engineers manipulated the machines in order to achieve the sound we all know and love. This post will be information concerning "Paperback Writer".
"Paperback Writer" was written mainly by Paul and the concept of the lyrics is basically delivered in a letter style with the subject pleading for a book deal and trying to sell the story to a publishing house. A great idea. Uncanny then that the background lyrics are basically the nursery rhyme "Frere Jacques" ( well, the first line anyway). How these two things are related is beyond me. Must have been the herbal jazz cigarettes...hahaha.
The basic track for "Paperback Writer" was recorded on Wednesday April 13 1966 at EMI studio three. The instrumentation for the song consisted of Paul and George on the guitars with Ringo on the drums and John provided the percussion (tambourine). It took two takes to perfect with the first take being a breakdown. The first take is available and can be heard on the CD bootleg "Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 3" via the Yellow Dog label. Take two was used for the commercial recording.
Overdubs for "Paperback Writer" were completed the next day on Thursday April 14 1966. The overdubs consisted of the main vocal by Paul and the backing vocals by John and George. A few guitar fills were added as well as the bass guitar. The bass was overdubbed with Paul using a Rickenbaker rather than his Hofner and a loudspeaker was used in the same sense of a microphone in order to boost the signal. the bass was then compressed and limited making it more prominent than it's previous recordings attested to.
There were two attempts at mono mixing "Paperback Writer". Both attempts were performed from the control room of EMI studio three also on Thursday April 14 1966. One of the great effects was to slow down the tape echo during the "a capella" section of the song when the Beatles harmonize on the words "Paperback Writer". As the tune was released that June in mono only, there was no need for a stereo mix. In the fall, once EMI decided to release the greatest hits package, a stereo mix for "Paperback Writer" was required. The stereo mix took place on Monday October 31 1966 from the control room of EMI studio one. This stereo mix was attempted three times and it allegedly took two hours to completed. The effects of slowing down the tape echo is not quite as prominent on the stereo mix as on the mono mix.
"Paperback Writer" was released in the UK as a single with "Rain" on Parlophone R 5452. The song was also released in North American as a single on Capitol 5651 with a picture sleeve. "Paperback Writer" is also available on the Parlophone UK LP "A Collection of Beatles Oldies" as well as the North American Apple LP "Hey Jude/The Beatles Again" and on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1962-1966". Interestingly, the song was featured on disc 5 of the World Records 8-LP set "The Beatles Box". The song is once again featured on the Parlophone UK version of the LP "20 Greatest Hits" as well as the North American version of the Capitol LP "20 Greatest Hits". It can be found on the EMI/Apple 2-LP "Past Masters" as well as the CD "Past Masters Volume Two". Finally, "Paperback Writer is available on the EMI/ Apple 2-LP/ CD "1" and the remastered EMI/Apple 2-CD "Mono Collection" as well as the EMI/Apple 2-CD stereo remastered "Past Masters" series.
A great tune, a great single and (in my opinion) one of two Beatles singles which are often underrated and overlooked.
"Paperback Writer" was performed live by The Beatles during their Far East/ American tour of 1966. It was the only song performed live from the entire catalogue of 1966 original recordings !!!!!