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
Label
Songwriter(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin
The Beatles UK singles chronology
"I Want to Hold Your Hand"
(1963)
"Can't Buy Me Love"
(1964)
"A Hard Day's Night"
(1964)
"I Want to Hold Your Hand"
(1963)
"Can't Buy Me Love"
(1964)
"A Hard Day's Night"
(1964)
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]

Composition[edit]

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]

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."[7] 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.[8]

Recording[edit]

"Can't Buy Me Love" was recorded on 29 January 1964 at EMI's Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, France,[9] 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[10] 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.[9] 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".[10][9] 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.[8] 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."[11] 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".[12] "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.

Release[edit]

"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 four 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.[13]
  3. When "Can't Buy Me Love" reached number 1, on 4 April 1964, the Beatles held 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.

"Can't Buy Me Love" became the Beatles' fourth UK number 1 and their third single to sell over a million copies in the UK. As of November 2012, it had sold 1.53 million copies there.[14]

The song 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.[15] 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".[16]

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 1, released in November 2000. Rolling Stone ranks "Can't Buy Me Love" at number 295 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[17]

Cover versions[edit]

Many artists have covered the song. Ella Fitzgerald recorded it for her 1964 album Hello, Dolly. This version was also released as a single, peaking at number 34 hit in the UK.

The title of the Men Without Hats song "Kenbarbielove" is derived from that of the Beatles song. When the band's drummer Michel Langevin was six years old, he didn't speak English, so he misheard the title of "Can't Buy Me Love" as "Ken Barbie Love".

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[18]
as per Geoff Emerick's credit

Charts[edit]

Notes[edit]

  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. ^ Badman 2000, p. 97.
  8. ^ a b Miles 1997, p. 162.
  9. ^ a b c Lewisohn 1988, p. 138.
  10. ^ a b The Beatles 2000, p. 112.
  11. ^ The Beatles 2000, pp. 112–114.
  12. ^ Southall 1982, p. 96.
  13. ^ Bronson, F. (2003) The Billboard book of number one hits, Billboard Books, p. 145
  14. ^ Sedghi, Ami (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  15. ^ Austerlitz 2007, pp. 17–18.
  16. ^ Austerlitz 2007, p. 226.
  17. ^ "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Of All Time". Rolling Stone. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  18. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 104.
  19. ^ Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book (1940–1969). Turramurra: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-44439-5. 
  20. ^ "Ultratop.be – The Beatles – Can't Buy Me Love" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  21. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Can't Buy Me Love". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  22. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – The Beatles – Can't Buy Me Love" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – The Beatles – Can't Buy Me Love". VG-lista. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  24. ^ "Archive Chart: 1964-04-08" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  25. ^ "The Beatles – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for The Beatles. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  26. ^ Hoffmann, Frank (1983). The Cash Box Singles Charts, 1950-1981. Metuchen, NJ & London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. pp. 32–34. 
  27. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts" (Enter "Beatles" in the search box) (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 16 May 2016. 
  28. ^ Lane, Dan (18 November 2012). "The biggest selling singles of every year revealed! (1952–2011)". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  29. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1964/Top 100 Songs of 1964". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-09-27. 
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  31. ^ "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

References[edit]

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