It was 50 years ago last month that, in a hurried recording session shortly after the departure of Pete Best, underwhelmed producer George Martin demoted Ringo Starr to tambourine. This week Tulip Radio is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles by playing the single that came out of that session in every show this week on 107.5FM.
Love Me Do has entered Beatles folklore. Not only did it produce a collectable in the form of the rarity on which Starr is allowed to play drums (which, after the loss of the master tapes, was thought to exist only on the first pressings of the 45). It also gave rise to a myth behind the Beatles’ initial success: legend has it that band manager Brian Epstein bought thousands of copies of Love Me Do himself to ensure the success of the single.
The song is elegant in its simplicity, while the lyrics are the stock stuff of 60s pop, musically, Love Me Do has a sparse charm that gives it a timeless quality. John Lennon’s blues-tinged harmonica lends a folkie frisson and leaves a nervous Paul McCartney to deliver the song’s lead vocal. Throw in some distinctive harmonies and the Everly-influenced turn-taking vocals, the result is that Love Me Do did everything a pop song is supposed to do and laid the foundations for what followed. Love Me Do is our Song of the Week.