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Music

The only Paul McCartney-George Harrison song by The Beatles

@TylerGolsen

Anyone who tuned in to the first few seconds of Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back were greeted with a charmingly lo-fi doo-wop song. It perfectly fit the black and white setting of Liverpool before the band’s major success, but it wasn’t entirely clear why this song in particular was being used. It didn’t really sound like The Beatles, apart from a high harmony that was reminiscent of Paul McCartney’s voice.

As it turns out, the song in question is called ‘In Spite of All the Danger’, and it is in fact not a Beatles song: it’s a song by the proto-Beatles act The Quarrymen. In 1958, a group of young musicians including John ‘Duff’ Lowe on piano and Colin Hanton on drums, plus teenagers John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, ducked into Phillips Sound Recording Service in Kensington to make their first semi-professional recordings.

Phillips Sound was really a home studio, and the resulting sound is in such low fidelity that it could be attributed to 1948 rather than 1958. The Quarrymen cut two songs that day: a cover of Buddy Holly’s ‘That’ll Be The Day’ and ‘In Spite of All The Danger’, a band original. The latter song was most notable for being the only song ever credited to McCartney-Harrison.

“It says on the label that it was me and George but I think it was actually written by me, and George played the guitar solo!” McCartney later recalled to Beatles biographer Mark Lewishon. “We were mates and nobody was into copyrights and publishing, nobody understood – we actually used to think when we came down to London that songs belonged to everyone.”

“I’ve said this a few times but it’s true, we really thought they just were in the air, and that you couldn’t actually own one,” McCartney continued. “So you can imagine the publishers saw us coming! ‘Welcome boys, sit down. That’s what you think, is it?’ So that’s what we used to do in those days – and because George did the solo we figured that he ‘wrote’ the solo.”

The Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership was in full swing at this point, but it wouldn’t be until the band began to key into the professional aspects of writing and recording that they would solidify their iconic credit. Only one shellac acetate was pressed, and it rotated around the band’s members as proof that they had made a real record.

“When we got the record, the agreement was that we would have it for a week each, McCartney concluded. “John had it a week and passed it on to me. I had it for a week and passed it on to George, who had it for a week. Then Colin had it for a week and passed it to Duff Lowe – who kept it for 23 years.” McCartney eventually bought the original from Lowe and still has it to this day.