Love Me Do - The Beatles

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"Love Me Do" - The Beatles (1962)

McCartney said of “Love Me Do”:

“It was probably the first bluesy thing we tried to write.

He also referred to it as

Our greatest philosophical song for it to be simple and true, means that is’ incredibly simple.”

Producer George Martin suggested Lennon play the chromatic harmonica on the track. McCartney revealed he was selected for the job because “John expected to be in jail one day and so he’d be the guy who played the harmonica.”  (In fact, Lennon had stolen that harmonica used in this song in a music shop in a Dutch town near to the German border, while the Beatles were on their way to Hamburg in 1960.)

When they recorded this song, all Abbey Road studio had was a twin-track recorder. Since stereo records were not the norm in England at the time, George Martin used the second track for what little overdubbing he could do, rather that recording the song in stereo.

Usually, Lennon sang the lead vocal, but when his harmonica part was added, McCartney had to sing it because Lennon's mouth was full of harmonica. His  harmonica playing provides a level of well-measured texture throughout the chorus and verses, a quirky solo that memorably stands in for what might have been a guitar part, and, of course, the fluttering, blues-thick intro.

Despite its bouncy feel, the song had a country and western aura about it due to its two-beat rhythm, harmonica accompaniment, and acoustic guitar. Lennon plays the harmonica without any “bent” notes, which separated itself completely form the standard American blues style. In fact, it is indecisive—is it a blues plea or a light ballad?

It is musically- on the surface, a typical pop song but its melody and harmony, blues notes, and the guitar and harmonica, are more typical of folk blues. Despite the simplicity of the lyrics, the melody is quite sophisticated as it projects anticipation, yearning, humility, and confidence. One of the highlights of the song is the aching unison that Paul and John strike on “Ple-ee-ee-eeease” right before the chorus.

Beatle scholar Alan Pollack wrote:

What we have here is what must be very nearly the skimpiest Lennon / McCartney lyric ever, a gawky post-skiffle beat which threatens to break into a polka in a couple of places, and a vocal duet that would appear to be ripped off from The Everly Brothers. Just beneath the surface, you find not only that certain bristling intensity in their voices, but also a great deal of idiosyncratic originality in the compositional details. One might even call it stylistically prophetic, especially in regards to the phrasing, the vocal harmonies, and the modal melody.”  

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