Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: The Beatles, “Misery”

Jim announced the prompts for today as "anguish, misery, torment" and this song flew out of nowhere. I figured I should wait until everyone else had posted their response for mine, because I figured someone else might choose this. Surprisingly, no one else did.

"Misery" was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and appeared on The Beatles’ first album, 1963’s Please Please Me in the UK and "Introducing… The Beatles* in the US.

The Blogger’s Best Friend has this to say about it:

In February 1963, Helen Shapiro was Britain’s most successful female singer (having first achieved chart success two years earlier at the age of 14) and The Beatles were fifth on the bill as part of her nationwide tour of the United Kingdom. Her artist and repertoire manager, Norrie Paramor, was looking for new material for a country and western album she planned to record in Nashville, Tennessee and suggested that the Beatles compose a song especially for her. "Misery" was started backstage before The Beatles’ performance at the King’s Hall, Stoke-on-Trent, on 26 January 1963, and later completed at Paul McCartney’s Forthlin Road home. At the time, McCartney commented: "We’ve called it ‘Misery’, but it isn’t as slow as it sounds, it moves along at quite a pace, and we think Helen will make a pretty good job of it." But Paramor considered it unsuitable, and so British singer and entertainer Kenny Lynch, who was on the same tour, recorded it instead (HMV Pop 1136), thus becoming the first artist to cover a Lennon–McCartney composition although he failed to enter the charts with it. In 1973, Lynch appeared in the cover photograph for McCartney’s album, Band on the Run.

When the Beatles needed original material for their Please Please Me LP they recorded it themselves, giving its treatment, according to writer Ian MacDonald, "a droll portrait of adolescent self-pity". It was credited to McCartney and Lennon in that order, as were all other Lennon & McCartney originals on the Please Please Me album. The songwriting credit was changed to what would become the more familiar "Lennon–McCartney" for their second album, With the Beatles. McCartney: "It was our first stab at a ballad and had a little spoken preface. It was co-written. I don’t think either of us dominated on that one, it was just a job, you could have called us hacks, hacking out a song for someone." (Barry Miles. Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now).

George Martin played the piano on the album version. When The Beatles played it on the BBC show Here We Go in March of 1963 (the version I chose), George Harrison played Martin’s part on guitar. It’s a short song, less than two minutes.

The lyrics are from Genius.com:

The world is treating me bad, misery

I’m the kind of guy
Who never used to cry
The world is treating me bad, misery

I’ve lost her now for sure
I won’t see her no more
It’s gonna be a drag, misery

I’ll remember all the little things we’ve done
Can’t she see she’ll always be the only one, only one

Send her back to me
‘Cause everyone can see
Without her I will be in misery

I’ll remember all the little things we’ve done
She’ll remember and she’ll miss her only one, lonely one

Send her back to me
‘Cause everyone can see
Without her I will be in misery (Oh oh oh)
In misery (Ooh ooh)
My misery (La la la la la la)
Misery

And that’s Song Lyric Sunday and Song of the Day for March 14, 2021.

24 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: The Beatles, “Misery”

  1. It wasn’t among their early best but I liked it. It is catchy. Helen’s producer should have green lighted this one.

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      1. George Martin did not like Norrie Paramor…Paramor would credit himself with making artists do his songs for B sides to get more money…Martin was not a fan of that… I’m not sure how Paramor felt about George.

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    1. I was sure that someone else would have chosen it, which is why I waited to see if someone did. It’s a real classic that from the comments I’m getting many people never heard before. That whole album is really good…

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