A lot of exciting things happened for The Beatles in 1964 including conquering the US pop charts, debuting on US TV (The Ed Sullivan Show), meeting Bob Dylan, trying marijuana for the first time, making it big in the movies (A Hard Day’s Night), and recording many great new Lennon/McCartney songs. I’m going to focus on that last bit (the original songs) in this article.
The Best Lennon/McCartney Recorded In 1964
“Can’t Buy Me Love” was the first Beatles song recorded in 1964 and it became a true classic hitting #1 in both the UK and the US. It was written and sung by Paul McCartney. While most of the songs that Lennon/McCartney wrote in 1963 were written “eye to eye” in a “50/50” sort of way, that didn’t really last very long. By 1964 Paul & John were writing mostly separately although they would often ask the other for input on a song after it was mostly completed.
“You Can’t Do That” was a John Lennon song (written & sung.) I love this song, and not just because of the great cowbell. The slight pause after “I told you before” really adds a great punch to the “You can’t do that” bit that comes in after. The Beatles were always adding those sort of subtle touches that really take a good song and make it great.
“And I Love Her” was the first great McCartney ballad. There have been many more since.
“If I Fell” is a great example of the fact that Lennon had a soft side as well. Many people have this simplistic vision of John as the rocker and Paul as the balladeer and while there may be some truth to that as a generalization, it’s certainly not the whole truth. Paul could definitely rock and John could write & sing a beautiful ballad like “If I Fell.”
“A Hard Day’s Night” needs no explanation and there’s so many great things to say about this classic that I don’t really even want to get started. I could probably write a whole article just on the iconic opening chord alone.
“I’ll Cry Instead” is an underappreciated song. It’s so catchy. It’s always been one of my favorites on A Hard Day’s Night (and considering the many classic pop gems on the album, that’s saying a lot.)
“I’ll Be Back” ends A Hard Day’s Night in an interseting fashion. It seems a bit more “mature” than most of their work up to that date. Sort of like a harbinger of things to come.
“Things We Said Today” is another one of my favorites from this period. Paul wasn’t writing as many songs as John in 1964, but the songs he was writing were all winners.
“Baby’s In Black” is The Beatles doing a “waltz.” It’s a great song on the very under rated Beatles For Sale album (yes the covers on that album are mostly awful, but the originals definitely make it worth a listen.)
“I’m A Loser” shows Bob Dylan’s influence on Lennon. There are actually quite a few “dark” songs from 1964 (at least comparitively dark.) Another great original from Beatles For Sale.
“Every Little Thing” is one of Paul’s entries for Beatles For Sale. And while he has referred to it as a “failed single,” I prefer to think of it as a great album track.
“No Reply” is a brilliant little story with some brilliant vocals. I’ve always loved this song. Again I must repeat how underrated I think this album (Beatles For Sale) is.
“Eight Days A Week” was a #1 hit in the US. Looking over this list you must note that I’ve actually left out quite a few of their originals from ’64. They really wrote a ton of classic tunes in just this one year.
“She’s A Woman” probably rocks harder than anything else the band recorded in 1964. Includes the line “turn me on” which was inserted as a purposeful reference to marijuana.
“I Feel Fine” includes a memorable intro (using guitar feedback) and a very catchy guitar riff. And yes, really, all of these songs were recorded in 1964! It’s just ridiuclous how many classic songs The Beatles were recording at this time.
“I’ll Follow The Sun” is a song that Paul McCartney wrote way back in 1960.
All of The Beatles songs are available as a part of The Beatles Remastered Box Sets.