A Little Help for Their Friends: Lennon/McCartney Non-Beatles Songwriting Credits

The songwriting partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney deservedly has hallowed status on the basis of the many classics the Beatles themselves recorded.

But as songwriters they remain perhaps under-appraised even so, considering their many other, lesser-known songwriting credits on hit songs they gave to others to perform–songs which might have added to the Beatles’ own lengthy list of hits had they chosen to release them themselves.

Paul was particularly active in promoting other fledgling acts by giving them hit songs, even though his compositions at the time were still credited to the Lennon/McCartney team. One such example is “Goodbye“, which he gave to an 18-year-old Mary Hopkin, and which was a #13 single in America (#2 UK) Here’s Mary’s recording:

…and Paul’s demo version:

Hopkin’s debut album was produced by McCartney and featured the massive worldwide hit “Those Were The Days”.

The sixties hit duo Peter and Gordon’s first three hit singles were all penned by Lennon and McCartney, although if you listen to Beatles demo versions you hear Paul singing the lead vocals, a pretty sure sign (judging from the Beatles’ catalogue itself) that he was at least the primary and perhaps sole writer of these songs also:

A World Without Love“, a number 1 hit in 1964, almost certainly would have topped the charts in Beatle-recorded form as well. It’s a British Invasion classic:

(Peter Asher is the Austin Powers-looking gent at left)

Here’s the Beatles’ demo version:

The other two Peter and Gordon hits written by the Beatles:

Nobody I Know” (#12 US hit):

…and “I Don’t Want To See You Again” (#16 US):

Another British Invasion act, Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas, were produced by George Martin and recorded many Lennon/McCartney songs. Bad To Me (below) reached number 1 in England (#9 US) and its sound is pure 1964 Beatles.

The “J” in Billy J. Kramer, by the way, was the suggestion of John Lennon, who thought it gave Billy a tougher image. (Lennon also gave the band The Cyrkle its name. Maybe Beatle-influenced band nomenclature is an article unto itself…) 

“I’ll Be On My Way”, “I Call Your Name”, “I’ll Keep You Satisfied”, and “From A Window“, all recorded by the Dakotas, were Lennon/McCartney songs. And their recording of George Harrison’s “Do You Want To Know A Secret” was also a number 2 hit in the UK.

Badfinger, who, like Mary Hopkin were signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records, had their career jump-started in 1969 when Paul McCartney gave away another (#7 US) hit, “Come And Get It“.

Beatle fans who’ve never heard the demo will find that Badfinger pretty much stuck to Paul’s blueprint:

This is by no means a complete list. It’s merely meant to point out that Lennon and McCartney weren’t just hitmakers as Beatles. From the mid-60’s through the early 70’s their songwriting was here, there and everywhere.

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