Paperback Writer (Lennon/McCartney)

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Paperback Writer (Lennon/McCartney)

The first single released by the Beatles which did not revolve around a love theme, Paperback Writer was written by Paul as a letter from an aspiring writer to a publishing company begging them to publish his new book. Paul later remarked that he like the way the phrase “paperback writer” sounded and wanted to build a song around it, as he had been challenged by an aunt to write a song not about love. The track itself featured a more prominent bass track through a technique conceived by engineer Ken Townsend, the first Beatles song with such a feature and in direct response to popular American R&B songs released around the same time.


“With that thought obviously still in his mind, he walked around the room and noticed that Ringo was reading a book. He took one look and announced that he would write a song about a book.” – Jimmy Savile, on Paul’s attempt to answer an aunt’s challenge to write a song about something other than love

“I think I might have helped with some of the lyrics. Yes, I did. But it was mainly Paul’s tune.” – John Lennon, in Hit Parader

“Paperback Writer is son of Day Tripper, but it is Paul’s song.” – John Lennon, Playboy, 1980

“‘Paperback Writer’ was the first time the bass sound had been heard in all its excitement. For a start, Paul played a different bass, a Rickenbacker. Then we boosted it further by using a loudspeaker as a microphone.” – Geoff Emerick

Recording dates

  • April 13, 1966 (2 takes, basic track)
  • April 14, 1966 (overdubs)


  • Paul McCartney – lead vocal, lead guitar (riff; this is disputed and it may be George Harrison), bass
  • John Lennon – backing vocal, tambourine
  • George Harrison – backing vocal, rhythm guitar, lead guitar (fills)
  • Ringo Starr – drums

Release history

Chart performance

  • #1, June 23 & June 30 (2 weeks), Record Retailer (UK)
  • #1, June 25 & July 9 (2 weeks), Billboard (US)

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