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(Credit: Bent Rej)


The Beatles song John Lennon called "pretty poor"


By necessity, The Beatles needed filler. With a record contract that required at least two albums a year and a schedule that kept them either on the road or in the studio for most of their waking hours, the band had to have a lot of material to fill in those gaps. “Filler” might be a pejorative term, but The Beatles tended to make the most of it.

The only difference between most bands’ filler and The Beatles’ filler is that The Beatles filler tends to be of phenomenally high quality. Littered throughout their records are hidden gems just waiting to be discovered, with tracks like ‘Hey Bulldog’, ‘Long Long Long’, and ‘For No One’ taking years to fully catch on. Since all of The Beatles’ music is cherished and canonised, it’s hard to find a song that isn’t beloved by some faction of the audience.

But it’s also hard to argue that the group might not have focused their best writing or recordings techniques on certain tracks. Especially on earlier songs from the band’s career, where recording sessions were done quickly and without the group’s control over the final product, some songs contain wild flubs and surprisingly amateurish editing. Certainly, nobody thought that The Beatles were going to have every last note of their recorded output pored over with a fine-tooth comb more than six decades later, but even small things like getting the correct words at the same time can be messed up from time to time.

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‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ and ‘What You’re Doing’ are two notable examples where vocal lines don’t add up, particularly at times when pronouns like “I” and “You” get switched up. But few songs in The Beatles back catalogue are as sloppy as ‘Hold Me Tight’. From the very first lines, the vocals are mangled as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison struggle to get on the same page. Harmonies are blown, proper alignment of lyrics are ignored, and even Ringo Starr’s bass drum pedal can be heard squeaking throughout the track.

It’s no surprise then that neither Lennon nor McCartney ever thought much of the song. That was Paul’s. Maybe I stuck some bits in there – I don’t remember,” Lennon told David Sheff in 1980. “It was a pretty poor song and I was never really interested in it either way.” McCartney echoed similar sentiments in Barry Miles’ Many Years From Now, saying “When we first started it was all singles and we were always trying to write singles, That’s why you get lots of these two minute 30 second songs; they all came out the same length. ‘Hold Me Tight’ was a failed attempt at a single which then became an acceptable album filler.”

McCartney also told Beatles historian Mark Lewishon, “I can’t remember much about that one. Certain songs were just ‘work’ songs, you haven’t got much memory of them. That’s one of them.” The band wound up speeding up the tape to give the final recording more energy, but the results couldn’t be saved. ‘Hold Me Tight’ is about as shambolic as The Beatles ever got on record, and it is unlikely to be remembered as anyone’s favourite Beatles track.