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The two songs that proved The Beatles "weren't just another rock 'n' roll group"


Of course everybody knows that The Beatles were literally one of the most important—if not the most important—bands of all time, rock band or otherwise. Even if that wasn’t always the case, which it arguably was from the very start, it doesn’t seem like they’d have all that much to worry about, right?

Well, Paul McCartney apparently wanted something a bit more out of The Beatles based on some of his personal tastes and affinities, specifically for ballads and even cabaret tracks. Upon a look at The Beatles discography, they have a plethora of versatile work, a wide range of inspirations and a deep affection for pushing themselves artistically.

However, it seems that Paul McCartney hinged this on a few specific songs in his mind. He said of this, “I could never see the difference between a beautiful melody and a cool rock ‘n’ roll song. I learnt to love all the ballady stuff through my dad and relatives – ‘Till There Was You’, ‘My Funny Valentine’ – I thought these were good tunes. The fact that we weren’t ashamed of those leanings meant that the band could be a bit more varied. And there was a need for that, because we played cabaret a lot. Songs like ‘Till There Was You’ and ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ would be the late-night cabaret material. They showed that we weren’t just another rock ‘n’ roll group.”

He continued, “The Lennon/McCartney songwriting collaboration was forming during that period. We went on from ‘Love Me Do’ to writing deeper, much more intense things. So it was just as well someone didn’t come up and tell us how uncool ‘Till There Was You’ was.”

It seems that it wasn’t simply about the quality of the songs themselves, but also about finding that collaboration within their writing together. He says of the innovation involved in the latter song, McCartney also said, “I looked at the recording scene and realised that a few people were taking offbeat songs, putting them into their acts and modernising them a bit. So I looked at a few songs with that in mind. ‘Till There Was You’ was one; no one was doing that except Peggy Lee so I thought it’d be nice to play.”

It’s clear to almost everyone that The Beatles weren’t simply another rock band, but it seems that for McCartney, their versatility and why that came to be as important for the conversation. 

If you want to hear the songs that set them apart in his eyes, you can find them both down below.