The talent of Sir Paul McCartney is rightly recognised as one of the 20th century’s brightest lights. The expert pop songwriter transcended into a composer and mercurial musician, capable of carrying not only an entire band on his own but an entire orchestra too. The truth is, the singer’s talent has been present form the very start.
If you needed any proof of that then you need only look at The Beatles superstar debut single ‘Love Me Do’. It was a song that Paul McCartney wrote when he was only sixteen years old. Considering the juvenile songwriter at the helm of the piece it’s hard to ignore the innate talent that Macca must have possessed to craft such an inch-perfect pop song—the track which would launch The Beatles into stardom.
“Paul wrote the main structure of this when he was 16, or even earlier. I think I had something to do with the middle,” remembered John Lennon of the track when he spoke to Hit Parader in 1972. Considering that Macca was only slightly younger when he met Lennon for the first time, it came very early in the singer’s songwriting evolution, “I do know he had the song around, in Hamburg, even, way, way before we were songwriters,” remembered Lennon in 1980. But yet it has all the attributes of an old hand.
Despite Lennon passing all the credit over to McCartney, he felt the song was a joint effort. “‘Love Me Do’ was completely co-written,” recalled McCartney when speaking to Barry Miles for Many Years From Now. “It might have been my original idea but some of them really were 50-50s, and I think that one was. It was just Lennon and McCartney sitting down without either of us having a particularly original idea.”
The song was remarkable for that fact alone. Prior to this, the band had largely relied on cover songs to fill their sets but this was one of the first the duo composed. “Introducing our own numbers started round Liverpool and Hamburg. ‘Love Me Do’, one of the first ones we wrote, Paul started when he must have been about 15,” Lennon was noted as saying inThe Beatles Anthology. “It was the first one we dared to do of our own. This was quite a traumatic thing because we were doing such great numbers of other people’s, of Ray Charles and [Little] Richard and all of them.”
“It was quite hard to come in singing ‘Love Me Do’. We thought our numbers were a bit wet. But we gradually broke that down and decided to try them.” The song gained quick popularity and, as well as being their debut single, was also heavily recorded for the BBC too. It was a turning point for the band in Ringo Starr’s eyes, “For me, that was more important than anything else. That first piece of plastic. You can’t believe how great that was. It was so wonderful. We were on a record!”
Whichever way you cut it, you cannot deny that the song set off a chain of events which would see The Beatles become the biggest band on the planet. For Macca, it just felt right, “In Hamburg, we clicked. At the Cavern we clicked. But if you want to know when we ‘knew’ we’d arrived, it was getting in the charts with ‘Love Me Do’. That was the one. It gave us somewhere to go.”
It’s about as sweet a single you will ever find and the fact that it is The Beatles debut tells you everything you need to know about them. The fact Paul McCartney wrote it when he was just a teen, tells you absolutely everything you need to know about him.