Can't Buy Me Love

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Can't Buy Me Love"
Can't Buy Me Love - The Beatles (1964 US release).jpg
US picture sleeve
Single by the Beatles
from the album A Hard Day's Night
B-side"You Can't Do That"
  • 16 March 1964 (1964-03-16) (US)
  • 20 March 1964 (UK)
Recorded29 January, 25 February 1964
  • Pathé Marconi, Paris
  • EMI, London
GenreRock and roll,[1] pop rock,[2] R&B[3]
Producer(s)George Martin
The Beatles UK singles chronology
"I Want to Hold Your Hand"
"Can't Buy Me Love"
"Ain't She Sweet"
The Beatles US singles chronology
"Twist and Shout"
"Can't Buy Me Love"
"Do You Want to Know a Secret"

"Can't Buy Me Love" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released in March 1964 as the A-side of their sixth single. It was written by Paul McCartney[4] and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. The song was included on the group's album A Hard Day's Night and was featured in a scene in Richard Lester's film of the same title. The single topped charts in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and Sweden. In the UK, it was the fourth highest selling single of the 1960s.[5]


While in Paris, the Beatles stayed at the five-star George V hotel and had an upright piano moved into one of their suites so that songwriting could continue.[6] It was here that McCartney wrote "Can't Buy Me Love". The song was written under the pressure of the success achieved by "I Want to Hold Your Hand", which had just reached number one in America. When producer George Martin first heard "Can't Buy Me Love", he felt that the song needed changing: "I thought that we really needed a tag for the song's ending, and a tag for the beginning; a kind of intro. So I took the first two lines of the chorus and changed the ending, and said 'Let's just have these lines, and by altering the second phrase we can get back into the verse pretty quickly.'" And they said: "That's not a bad idea, we'll do it that way".[7] The song's verse is a twelve-bar blues in structure, a formula that the Beatles seldom applied to their own material.[8]

When pressed by American journalists in 1966 to reveal the song's "true" meaning, McCartney stated: "I think you can put any interpretation you want on anything, but when someone suggests that 'Can't Buy Me Love' is about a prostitute, I draw the line." He went on to say: "The idea behind it was that all these material possessions are all very well, but they won't buy me what I really want."[9] However, he was to comment later: "It should have been 'Can Buy Me Love'" when reflecting on the perks that money and fame had brought him.[10]


"Can't Buy Me Love" was recorded on 29 January 1964 at EMI's Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, France,[11] where the Beatles were performing 18 days of concerts at the Olympia Theatre. At this time, EMI's West Germany branch, Odeon, insisted that the Beatles would not sell records in any significant numbers in Germany unless they were actually sung in the German language[12] and the Beatles reluctantly agreed to re-record the vocals to "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" prior to them being released in Germany. George Martin travelled to Paris with a newly mastered rhythm track for what was to be "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand". "Sie Liebt Dich" required the Beatles to record a new rhythm track as the original two-track recording had been scrapped.[11] EMI sent a translator to be present for this recording session which had been hurriedly arranged to tie in with the Beatles' Paris commitments. This was accomplished well within the allotted studio time, allowing the Beatles an opportunity to record the backing track, with a guide vocal, to the recently composed "Can't Buy Me Love".[12][11] At this stage the song included background vocal harmonies, but after listening to the first take, the band concluded that the song did not need them. Therefore, "Can't Buy Me Love" became the first single the Beatles released without their characteristic background harmonies.

McCartney's final vocal was overdubbed at EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London, on 25 February.[10] Also re-recorded on this day at EMI Studios was George Harrison's modified guitar solo, although his original solo can still just be heard in the background. Harrison said: "What happened was, we recorded first in Paris and re-recorded in England. Obviously they'd tried to overdub it, but in those days they only had two tracks, so you can hear the version we put on in London, and in the background you can hear a quieter one."[13] Helen Shapiro, a friend of the Beatles and present at this overdub session, says that Ringo Starr also added extra cymbals "over the top" and that "apparently this was something he did quite often on their records".[14] "Can't Buy Me Love" is also the only English-language track that the Beatles recorded in a studio outside the UK, although the instrumentation of the band's 1968 B-side "The Inner Light" was recorded in India by Harrison and some Indian classical musicians.


"Can't Buy Me Love" was released as a single, backed by John Lennon's song "You Can't Do That". The release took place on 16 March 1964 in the United States and four days later in the United Kingdom. In the US, "Can't Buy Me Love" topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for five weeks. With the success of the song, the Beatles established four records on the Hot 100:

  1. Until Billboard began using SoundScan for their charts in 1991, the song had the biggest jump to the top position: number 27 to number 1.
  2. It gave the Beatles three consecutive chart-topping singles, since "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was replaced at number 1 by "She Loves You", which was in turn replaced by "Can't Buy Me Love". The three songs spent a combined total of 14 consecutive weeks at number 1. This is the only time an artist had three number 1 singles in a row.[15]
  3. When "Can't Buy Me Love" reached number 1, on 4 April 1964, the Beatles held the entire top five on the Hot 100, the next positions being filled by "Twist and Shout", "She Loves You", "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "Please Please Me", respectively. No other act has held the top five spots simultaneously.
  4. During its second week at number 1, the Beatles had fourteen songs on the Hot 100 at the same time.

In the UK, "Can't Buy Me Love" became the Beatles' fourth number 1 and their third single to sell over a million copies. By November 2012, it had sold 1.53 million copies there.[16] As of December 2018, it was the 35th best-selling single of all time in the UK – one of six Beatles songs included on the top sales rankings published by the Official Charts Company.[17]

"Can't Buy Me Love" was included on the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night album in June 1964 and the US soundtrack album of the same name, released on United Artists Records. For its sequence in the film A Hard Day's Night, director Richard Lester used crane shots to capture the four band members running and leaping in a sports field.[18] In his book on the history of music videos, Money for Nothing, author Saul Austerlitz places "Can't Buy Me Love" at number 33 on the "Top 100 Videos List".[19]

Subsequent album appearances for the song include the compilations A Collection of Beatles Oldies (1966) and Hey Jude (1970; also known as The Beatles Again), the 1973 double-disc collection 1962–1966, the 1982 release Reel Music, which features songs from the Beatles' feature films; the 1982 compilation 20 Greatest Hits and the 2000 greatest hits album 1; a composite of takes one and two of "Can't Buy Me Love" was included on the Anthology 1 compilation in 1995. Rolling Stone ranked "Can't Buy Me Love" at number 295 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2010.[20]

In September 2015, the Beatles donated the use of their recording of the song to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for a television commercial.[21]

McCartney opened his 2022 "Got Back" Tour gigs with the song.

Cover versions[edit]

Ella Fitzgerald recorded the song for her 1964 album Hello, Dolly. This version was also released as a single, peaking at number 34 in the UK in June 1964, spending five weeks on the chart.[22] Alex Petridis of The Guardian cites Fitzgerald as an example of how several artists, responding to the composition's swing-like rhythmic quality, issued "parent-friendly jazz covers" of "Can't Buy Me Love", and how the song was "key to establishing the Beatles' cross-generational appeal".[23]


Personnel per Ian MacDonald[24]


Certifications and sales[edit]

Certifications and sales for Can't Buy Me Love
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[44] Silver 1,547,454[43]
United States (RIAA)[46] Gold 2,100,000[45]
Worldwide 6,000,000[45]


  1. ^ "Paul McCartney's bluegrass The Beatles' 'Can't Buy Me Love'". Far Out Magazine. 27 May 2020. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  2. ^ Blake 1999, p. 22.
  3. ^ Kutner, Jon; Leigh, Spencer (2010). 1,000 UK Number One Hits. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780857123602.
  4. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 105.
  5. ^ "Ken Dodd 'third best-selling artist of 1960s'". BBC News. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  6. ^ Miles 1997, p. 161.
  7. ^ The Beatles 2000, p. 114.
  8. ^ Martin & Pearson 1994, p. 40.
  9. ^ Badman 2000, p. 97.
  10. ^ a b Miles 1997, p. 162.
  11. ^ a b c Lewisohn 1988, p. 138.
  12. ^ a b The Beatles 2000, p. 112.
  13. ^ The Beatles 2000, pp. 112–114.
  14. ^ Southall 1982, p. 96.
  15. ^ Bronson, F. (2003) The Billboard book of number one hits, Billboard Books, p. 145
  16. ^ Sedghi, Ami (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  17. ^ Myers, Justin (14 December 2018). "The best-selling singles of all time on the Official UK Chart". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  18. ^ Austerlitz 2007, pp. 17–18.
  19. ^ Austerlitz 2007, p. 226.
  20. ^ "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Of All Time". Rolling Stone. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  21. ^ Kretzer, Michelle (29 September 2015). "Beatles Donate Use of 'Can't Buy Me Love' to PETA for Adoption Campaign". PETA. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  22. ^ "Can't Buy Me Love". Official Charts. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  23. ^ Petridis, Alex (26 September 2019). "The Beatles' Singles – Ranked!". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  24. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 104.
  25. ^ Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book (1940–1969). Turramurra: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-44439-5.
  26. ^ "The Beatles – Can't Buy Me Love" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  27. ^ "The Beatles - Salgshitlisterne Top 20". Danske Hitlister. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  28. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Can't Buy Me Love". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  29. ^ "Sisältää hitin: Levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1960: Artistit SAR - SEM". Sisältää hitin. 12 August 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  30. ^ "The Beatles – Can't Buy Me Love" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  31. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 14 May 1964
  32. ^ "The Beatles – Can't Buy Me Love". VG-lista. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  33. ^ Hallberg, Eric (1993). Eric Hallberg presenterar Kvällstoppen i P 3: Sveriges radios topplista över veckans 20 mest sålda skivor 10. 7. 1962 - 19. 8. 1975. Drift Musik. p. 130. ISBN 9163021404.
  34. ^ Hallberg, Eric; Henningsson, Ulf (1998). Eric Hallberg, Ulf Henningsson presenterar Tio i topp med de utslagna på försök: 1961 - 74. Premium Publishing. p. 53. ISBN 919727125X.
  35. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  36. ^ "The Beatles Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  37. ^ Hoffmann, Frank (1983). The Cash Box Singles Charts, 1950-1981. Metuchen, NJ & London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. pp. 32–34.
  38. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts" (Enter "Beatles" in the search box) (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  39. ^ "Veckolista Heatseeker, vecka 53, 2015" (in Swedish). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  40. ^ Lane, Dan (18 November 2012). "The biggest selling singles of every year revealed! (1952–2011)". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  41. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1964/Top 100 Songs of 1964". Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  42. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1964". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  43. ^ Copsey, Rob (19 September 2017). "The UK's Official Chart 'millionaires' revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  44. ^ "British single certifications – The Beatles – Can't Buy Me Love". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 6 October 2022.
  45. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1985). Million selling records from the 1900s to the 1980s : an illustrated directory. Arco Pub. p. 453. ISBN 0668064595. This disc golds the record to date for the biggest advance sale of any single - 2,100,000 in the U.S.A., on the Capitol label, and over one million in Britain … it topped the charts all over the globe. World sales have been estimate at between five and six million
  46. ^ "American single certifications – The Beatles – Can't Buy Me Love". Recording Industry Association of America.


External links[edit]