A great post at Slate on the story behind the Beatles’ first No. 1 hit.
John Lennon wrote “Please Please Me” at his Aunt Mimi’s house in Liverpool, but it was months later—50 years ago today, to be exact—that the Beatles finally got the song right. When they first played it in studio for George Martin, on Sept. 11, 1962, the producer was not impressed. It was a slower, bluesier number, modeled on Roy Orbison songs like “Only the Lonely,” and Martin dismissed it. He called it “a dirge.”
Martin—and the Beatles’ label, Parlophone Records—wanted the band’s next single to be “How Do You Do It?” by the English songwriter Mitch Murray. Martin was sure it would be a hit. But the Beatles hated the idea. They thought the catchy but elementary tune was antiquated, even embarrassing—how could they show their faces around Liverpool if they made it big with that? If they wanted to succeed on their own terms, though, they would have to prove themselves as songwriters—and Martin was skeptical of their skills at songcraft. “Their songwriting was crap,” he later said. “The first record we issued was ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘P.S. I Love You’—which are not exactly Cole Porter, are they?”
So the band went back to work.