I Wanna Be Your Man - The Beatles

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"I Wanna Be Your Man" - The Beatles (1963)

In 1980 Lennon’s comment on “I Wanna Be Your Man” was:

“It was a throwaway. The only two versions of the song were Ringo and the Rolling Stones. That shows how much importance we put on it: We weren't going to give them anything great, right?

John Lennon recalled completing it with McCartney in front of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who were impressed enough to begin songwriting themselves shortly afterwards:

“We sort of played it roughly to them and they said, 'Yeah, OK, that's our style.' So Paul and I just went off in the corner of the room and finished the song off while they were all still there talking. We came back and that's how Mick and Keith got inspired to write.”

Paul McCartney remembers that “I Wanna Be Your Man” was written for Starr and later offered to the Stones. He recounted how he and Lennon were passed by a taxi containing Jagger and Richards while walking down London's Charing Cross Road.

He writes in his autobiography:

“So they shouted from the taxi and we yelled, 'Hey, hey, give us a lift, give us a lift,' and we bummed a lift off them. So there were the four of us sitting in a taxi and I think Mick said, 'Hey, we're recording. Got any songs?' And we said, 'Aaaah, yes, sure, we got one. How about Ringo's song? You could do it as a single.'”

McCartney admitted that he directly lift the line “I Want to be your man” from American R&B singer Benny Spellman’s “Fortune Teller.

He writes in his autobiography:

“We were quite open about our nicks.”

It was important that the song was simple, in order for Ringo to be able to sing it.

As McCartney explained:

“We often used to say to people, the words don't really matter, people don't listen to words, it's the sound they listen to. So ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ was to try and give Ringo something like “Boys;” an uptempo song he could sing from the drums. It had to be very simple.”

Beatle scholar Wilfred Mellers said Ringo’s technical deficiencies as singer intensified the ferociousness in the way he performed it.

The end result was an insidious back-beat, Ringo’s bellows, Paul’s shrieking wildly, George intermittent, twanging guitar fills, and John anchoring the groove with a Bo Diddley-style guitar hustle.

This song is bluesy in a stylized but facile, simplistic way, representing a certain kind of triumph of style over content.

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