Please Please Me Research Sources

Tape box with Beatle cuts for Please Please Me LPThere’s a lot of valuable historical material out there that made the telling of this story a little easier, including:

Way Beyond Compare – The Beatles’ Recorded Legacy by John C. Winn

The Beatles Recording Sessions – The Official Abbey Studio Session Notes by Mark Lewisohn

The Beatles’ Anthology – by The Beatles

But perhaps the most valuable resource was being able to hear takes from the actual session itself, which can be done here and here. Some of the chitter-chatter between takes in the Please Please Me e-book was ripped directly from the tapes.

We’re lucky the tapes managed to survive, because the usual policy back then was to get rid of the stuff that wasn’t used. Thus, the famous “Roy Orbison” demo version of “Please Please Me” appears to be gone forever, but fortunately many more treasures still exist allowing us to listen in as the Beatles work.

“[‘Please Please Me’] was my attempt at writing a Roy Orbison song, would you believe it? I wrote it in the bedroom in my house at Menlove Avenue, which was my auntie’s place. I remember the day and the pink eyelet on the bed and I heard Roy Orbison doing ‘Only the Lonely‘ or something. That’s where that came from. And also I was also always intrigued by the words of [sings] ‘Please lend a little ear to my pleas’ – a Bing Crosby song. I was always intrigued by the double use of the word ‘please.’ So it was a combination of Roy Orbison and Bing Crosby.”
– John Lennon
Quoted in The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono 
Interviews by David Sheff