The Beatles: Paul McCartney says George Harrison ‘didn’t’ write band’s first song

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Together, Paul McCartney and John Lennon made up the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership. The pair wrote dozens of songs for The Beatles – as well as other musical acts – many of which were top-ten hits. The pair’s success has made them two of the most influential composers of all time. But one occasion involved McCartney teaming up with another member of the band to write: George Harrison.

Harrison often worked on his own while songwriting. And he had a lot of success, as well. He penned such Beatles classics as Something, While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Here Comes The Sun to just name a few.  But long before The Beatles were a worldwide phenomenon, they were a band called The Quarrymen.

The Quarrymen consisted of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, pianist John Lowe and drummer Colin Hanton. And the band’s first-ever recorded song was penned by McCartney, with Harrison adding a guitar solo – something that would happen again in the future, but with different results.

Harrison often wrote guitar solos for Beatles songs written by other members of the band, but the youngsters weren’t too clued up at the time.

The Quarrymen recorded In Spite of All The Danger in 1958. McCartney later looked back on the song while talking to Beatles biographer Mark Lewishon, saying: “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!”

The 2 minute 57 second song is reminiscent of Buddy Holly and features McCartney crooning for a lost love. About halfway through the track, Harrison rips into a plinky guitar solo.

McCartney recalled how they didn’t really understand copyrights when they first recorded music, so although Harrison is credited as a songwriter, it was really down to him.

Paul McCartney jokes around as he plays with Instagram filters

McCartney confessed: “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.”

He added: “Because George did the solo we figured that he ‘wrote’ the solo. That wouldn’t be the case now. [Bruce] Springsteen writes the record and the guy who plays the solo doesn’t ‘write’ it.”

Songwriting credits aside, the band were extremely excited when the vinyl version of their first-ever original song was delivered to them.

McCartney fondly remembered: “When we got the record, the agreement was that we would have it for a week each. 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 [John] Lowe – who kept it for 23 years.”

Eventually, decades later, McCartney bought the original copy of the song from Lowe. He still has it to this day.

Meanwhile, McCartney couldn’t help but find comedy in how the band used to think about copyright and publishing rules.

McCartney said: “I’ve said this a few times but it’s true, we really thought they [songs] just were in the air, and that you couldn’t actually own one. So you can imagine the publishers saw us coming! [They would say:] ‘Welcome boys, sit down. That’s what you think, is it?’ So that’s what we used to do in those days.”


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