Can't Buy Me Love

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"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"
Released 16 March 1964 (US)
20 March 1964 (UK)
Format 7"
Recorded 29 January 1964,
Pathé Marconi Studios, Paris;
25 February and 10 March 1964,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Pop rock[1]
Length 2:11
Songwriter(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin
The Beatles UK singles chronology
"I Want to Hold Your Hand"
"Can't Buy Me Love"
"A Hard Day's Night"
"I Want to Hold Your Hand"
"Can't Buy Me Love"
"A Hard Day's Night"
The Beatles US singles chronology
"Twist and Shout"
(1964) Twist and Shout1964
"Can't Buy Me Love"
(1964) Can't Buy Me Love1964
"Do You Want to Know a Secret"
(1964) Do You Want to Know a Secret1964
Alternative cover
1982 reissue
1982 reissue
Audio sample

"Can't Buy Me Love" is a song composed by Paul McCartney[2] (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and released by the Beatles on the A-side of their sixth British single, "Can't Buy Me Love/You Can't Do That". 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.[3]


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 song writing could continue.[4] 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 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".[5]

The song's verse is a twelve bar blues in structure, a formula that the Beatles seldom applied to their own material.[6]


"Can't Buy Me Love" was recorded on 29 January 1964 at EMI's Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, France,[7] 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[8] 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" ("Come, Give Me your Hand"/"I Want to Hold your Hand"). "Sie Liebt Dich" ("She Loves You") required the Beatles to record a new rhythm track as the original two-track recording had been scrapped.[7] 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".[8][7] 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.[9] 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."[10] 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"[11] (Geoff Emerick, tape operator and later the Beatles' recording engineer, credits Norman Smith, the Beatles' then-current engineer, with this overdub).[12] "Can't Buy Me Love" is also the only English-language Beatles track that the Beatles themselves recorded in a studio outside the UK, although the instrumentation of the Beatles' B-side "The Inner Light" was recorded in India by Indian session musicians.


When pressed by American journalists in 1966 to reveal the song's "true" meaning, McCartney stated that, "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."[13] 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.[9]


Personnel per Ian MacDonald[14]
as per Geoff Emerick's credit

Music charts[edit]

US music charts[edit]

The Beatles established four records on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Can't Buy Me Love" at number one:

  1. Until Billboard began using SoundScan for their charts in 1991, it had the biggest jump to number one: (number twenty-seven to number one; no other single had ever done this).
  2. It gave the Beatles three consecutive number-one songs ("I Want to Hold Your Hand" was replaced at number one 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 No. 1. This is the only time an artist had three number ones in a row. The best prior was Elvis, who had two consecutive number ones with "Don't Be Cruel" and "Love Me Tender".[15]
  3. When "Can't Buy Me Love" reached number one (4 April 1964), the entire top five of the Hot 100 was by the Beatles, 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 one (11 April 1964), the Beatles had fourteen songs on the Hot 100 at the same time.

The song was the third of seven songs by the Beatles to hit #1 in a one-year period; an all-time record. In order, these were "I Want to Hold Your Hand", "She Loves You", "Can't Buy Me Love", "Love Me Do", "A Hard Day's Night", "I Feel Fine", and "Eight Days a Week". It was also the third of seven songs written by Lennon-McCartney to hit #1 in 1964; that's an all-time record for writing the most songs to hit #1 in the same calendar year. (see List of Billboard Hot 100 chart achievements and milestones)

Rolling Stone ranked "Can't Buy Me Love" at No. 295 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[16] The song spent five consecutive weeks at No. 1. The only Beatles songs to exceed that mark were "I Want to Hold Your Hand" at seven weeks and "Hey Jude" at nine weeks.

UK music charts[edit]

"Can't Buy Me Love" became the Beatles' fourth UK number-one single and their third single to sell over a million copies in the UK. It has sold 1.53 million copies as of November 2012.[17]

The song was also released in the following albums: A Hard Day's Night (both the American United Artists and British Parlophone versions); Big Hits from England and the USA, a various artists compilation album from Capitol issued in 1964; the British-only LP release A Collection of Beatles Oldies; the 1970 compilation Hey Jude (also known as The Beatles Again); the 1973 double disc collection 1962–1966 (the Red Album); the 1982 release Reel Music, which features songs from Beatles films; the 1982 compilation 20 Greatest Hits (both in England and America); and 1, released in November 2000.

Chart performance[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

Many artists have covered the song. Among the more notable is Ella Fitzgerald's version from her 1964 album Hello, Dolly which was released as a single, a No. 34 hit in the UK chart.

Although not a cover, the Men Without Hats song "Kenbarbielove"'s title is derived from the song. When the band's then-drummer Michel Langevin was 6 years old, he didn't speak English, so he misheard the title of "Can't Buy Me Love" as "Ken Barbie Love" when hearing it for the first time.


  1. ^ Andrew Blake 1999, p. 22.
  2. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 105.
  3. ^ Kretzer, Michelle (29 September 2015). "Beatles Donate Use of ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ to PETA for Adoption Campaign". PETA. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  4. ^ Miles 1997, p. 161.
  5. ^ The Beatles 2000, p. 114.
  6. ^ Martin & Pearson 1994, p. 40.
  7. ^ a b c Lewisohn 1988, p. 138.
  8. ^ a b The Beatles 2000, p. 112.
  9. ^ a b Miles 1997, p. 162.
  10. ^ The Beatles 2000, pp. 112–114.
  11. ^ Southall 1982, p. 96.
  12. ^ The Beatles Bible.
  13. ^ Badman 2000, p. 97.
  14. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 104.
  15. ^ Bronson, F. (2003) The Billboard book of number one hits Billboard Books p. 145
  16. ^ "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Of All Time". Rolling Stone. April 7, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2015. 
  17. ^ Sedghi, Ami (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  18. ^ Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book (1940–1969). Turramurra: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-44439-5. 
  19. ^ " – The Beatles – Can't Buy Me Love" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  20. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Can't Buy Me Love". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  21. ^ " – The Beatles – Can't Buy Me Love" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  22. ^ " – The Beatles – Can't Buy Me Love". VG-lista. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Archive Chart: 1964-04-08" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  24. ^ "The Beatles – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for The Beatles. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  25. ^ Hoffmann, Frank (1983). The Cash Box Singles Charts, 1950-1981. Metuchen, NJ & London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. pp. 32–34. 
  26. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts" (Enter "Beatles" in the search box) (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 16 May 2016. 
  27. ^ Lane, Dan (18 November 2012). "The biggest selling singles of every year revealed! (1952–2011)". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  28. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1964/Top 100 Songs of 1964". Retrieved 2016-09-27. 
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  30. ^ "American single certifications – The Beatles – Can't Buy Me Love". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 14 May 2016.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH


External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Little Children" by Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas
UK Singles Chart number-one single
2 April 1964 – 23 April 1964
Succeeded by
"A World Without Love" by Peter and Gordon
Preceded by
"She Loves You" by The Beatles
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
4 April 1964 – 2 May 1964
Succeeded by
"Hello, Dolly!" by Louis Armstrong