Misery (Beatles song)

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Misery - The Beatles.jpg
The German single release of the song, backed with "Ask Me Why"
Song by the Beatles
from the album Please Please Me
Released22 March 1963
Recorded11 and 20 February 1963
GenrePop rock
Producer(s)George Martin

"Misery" is a song performed by English rock band The Beatles on their album Please Please Me. It was co-written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. According to Lennon, "It was kind of a John song more than a Paul song, but it was written together."[1] McCartney was to say: "I don't think either one of us dominated on that one, it was just a hacking job."[2]

A 1963 single by Kenny Lynch made "Misery" the first Beatles' song to be covered by another artist.[3]


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)[4] 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.[5] "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.[2] 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."[6] But Paramor considered it unsuitable,[3] and so British singer and entertainer Kenny Lynch, who was on the same tour, recorded it instead (HMV Pop 1136[7]), thus becoming the first artist to cover a Lennon–McCartney composition[3][2] although he failed to enter the charts with it.[8] 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".[9] 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).[10]

The Beatles recorded "Misery" on 11 February 1963 (marathon session) in 11 takes. Norman Smith was the engineer.[10]

Normal studio multi-track tape speed at the time was 15 ips (inches per second), but “Misery” was recorded at 30 ips, as George Martin intended to personally add piano at a later date, and preferred playing this at half-tempo an octave below.[11]

Helen Shapiro had starred in her own film called It's Trad, Dad! (released UK 16 April 1962) directed by Richard Lester, who later directed The Beatles' films A Hard Day's Night and Help!.[4]



Personnel per MacDonald[9][10]

Cover versions[edit]

Year Artist Release
1963 Kenny Lynch[3]
1976 The Flamin' Groovies Shake Some Action[12]
1993 Eva Braun Unplugged


  1. ^ Sheff 2000, p. 169.
  2. ^ a b c Miles 1997, p. 94.
  3. ^ a b c d Unterberger 2009.
  4. ^ a b Harry 1992, p. 598.
  5. ^ Harry 1992, p. 599.
  6. ^ Badman 2000, p. 51.
  7. ^ Global Dog Productions 2009.
  8. ^ Harry 1992, p. 468.
  9. ^ a b MacDonald 2005, pp. 70–71.
  10. ^ a b c Misery | The Beatles Bible
  11. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 24.
  12. ^ Deming 2009.


  • "45 Discography for HMV Records - UK - POP series 1001-1617". Global Dog Productions. 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
  • Badman, Keith (2000). The Beatles Off The Record. London: Omnibus. ISBN 0-7119-7985-5.
  • Deming, Mark (2009). "Review of Shake Some Action". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  • Harry, Bill (1992). The Ultimate Beatles Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-86369-681-3.
  • Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions. London: Hamlyn. ISBN 0-600-55798-7.
  • MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3.
  • Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt & Company. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6.
  • Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-25464-4.
  • Unterberger, Richie (2009). "Kenny Lynch Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 30 October 2009.