Paperback Writer (2:15)

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“Paperback Writer” is a 1966 rock song recorded and released by The Beatles. Credited to Lennon/McCartney, the song was released as the A-side of their eleventh single. The single went to the number one spot in the United States, United Kingdom, West Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. Written in the form of a letter from an aspiring author to a publisher, “Paperback Writer” was the first UK Beatles single that was not a love song (though “Nowhere Man”, which was a single in the U.S., was their first album song released with that distinction).

One of McCartney’s aunts reportedly requested that he write a song with some other theme than boy–girl relationships. British disc jockey Jimmy Savile claimed that McCartney’s inspiration came from seeing drummer Ringo Starr reading a book. “He took one look and announced that he would write a song about a book,” he said. In a 2007 interview, McCartney recalled that he wrote the song after reading in the Daily Mail about an aspiring author, possibly Martin Amis. The Daily Mail was Lennon’s regular newspaper and was often in the studio when The Beatles were writing songs.

The song’s lyrics are in the form of a letter from an aspiring author addressed to a publisher. The author badly needs a job and has written a paperback version of a book by a “man named Lear.” This is a reference to the Victorian painter Edward Lear, who wrote nonsense poems and songs of which John Lennon was very fond (though Lear never wrote novels).

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