Interview for New Musical Express • Friday, June 17, 1966

Ringo played cards as others sang "Paperback"

Press interview • Interview of George Martin
Published by:
New Musical Express
Interview by:
Alan Smith
Timeline More from year 1966

Album This interview has been made to promote the Revolver (UK Mono) LP.

Master release

Songs mentioned in this interview


Officially appears on Paperback Writer / Rain (UK)

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Dec 22, 1966 • From Daily Mirror

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RINGO PLAYED CARDS AS OTHERS SANG ‘PAPERBACK’! reveals GEORGE MARTIN, the Beatles’ recording manager, in an interview with Alan Smith.

The date: April 13, 1965, George Martin’s lean, smiling face looked across to the Beatles and then down at the panel of recording instruments in front of him. Needles swung back and forth across the dials, slowly coming to rest at zero. Silent seconds ticked by.

Suddenly the music erupted and within moments John, Paul and George were in there vocally attacking “Paperback Writer” for all they were worth… while Ringo, together with road managers Mal and Neil, studiously operated a card school behind some screens in the corner!

Ringo had already recorded his contribution earlier on the instrumental track and left the vocals to the trio. Offbeat scenes like this are part of the crazy inventive, professional recording world of the Beatles, described to me this week by the amiable Mr. Martin.

According to George (their a-and-r man ever since the days of “Love Me Do”):

“We now spend more time in the studios than ever before. The Beatles have come to accept that recording is their way of life. They accept the voluntary imprisonment of being in the studios for as long as 14 hours on end.

“Paperback Writer”? As far as I can remember this was not specifically recorded as a single. We haven’t done that since the days of ‘Please Please Me.’ The thing was, we knew we had to make an album and a single. And the single was more urgent.

“We picked out ‘Paperback Writer.’ Yet as far as I’m concerned there are other tracks I much prefer to it. I’m sure any one of them would have done well.”

I asked him how he would describe “Paperback Writer” to someone who hadn’t heard it before.

He thought for a moment.

“Oh, I don’t know. A pretty ordinary rock beat, I suppose. Although there’s nothing ordinary about the style.

The voices sound different. I especially like the answering voices they use, one against the other. How would “The Times critic describe it?-polyphonic!

“I think this is the first time we have used echo like this on a Beatles track. I also like the ‘Frere Jacques’ refrain towards the end. You can’t really hear the words because they’re very soft.”


I confessed I didn’t spot this little diversion on the number, but George reassured me that it was just one of those weird things that happened for the sake of it. There was no connection whatever between the famous Brother Jack and the knack of writing paperbacks.

How about the ‘B’ side,” Rain,” on which the closing words are recorded backwards?

“Just an ‘in’ joke!” explained George, “The Beatles weren’t quite sure what to do at that point, so I took out a bit of John’s voice from earlier on and played it backwards. They all thought it was marvellous… it had a sort of unexpectedly Eastern sound, So we kept it in.

“We often like to do things like that for a giggle, particularly as they so often work out.”

Talking about off-beat Beatles tracks, George explained that there had been some confusion over a “Jazz” track being included on the group’s forthcoming LP. I gather it’s all a matter of your interpretation of the word Jazz.”


Jazz musicians played on the session, but what Paul was trying to achieve was a trumpet sound, rather in the James Brown band style.

Says George:

“I am hoping that the Beatles album will be released in August, but there are still a couple of tracks to record. It’s certainly far more varied than anything they’ve done before.

“It’s always dangerous to say too much or to get over-excited before something like this comes out. The Beatles themselves are always cautious about saying anything, because you never know what the eventual reaction will be.

“I wouldn’t say there was anything particularly weird on it except one track, on which I play an instrument I bought myself! No, I can’t tell you what it is just yet, or where I got it. All I can say is it cost me £110.

“We still work out a lot of the numbers on the studio floor. Usually we start at about 2.30 pm and go through till 2.30 am. I think the boys like it this way.”

He smiled:

“They are most definitely nightbirds, and they tend to come alive as the night wears on. I’m a normal nine-to-five man. Just the opposite! I suppose I tire as time goes by, with the result that the Beatles and I probably reach a point of joint maximum efficiency half-way through – about 10 pm.

“The sessions are pretty relaxed. The engineers have a break sometimes and meals are brought in for the boys because they can’t go out. Not with the fans outside!

“The main difficulty with fans, I suppose, is that the neighbours near the studios complain about the noise they make. They don’t affect us too much. We’re soundproofed!”

I voiced the opinion that since Love Me Do,” every Beatle single right up to Paperback Writer” had been an up-tempo number, Was this a deliberate policy? Did the Beatles steer away from ballads for their ‘A’ sides?

Not fast

He looked surprised.

“I hadn’t realised that myself, although I wouldn’t say that ‘We Can Work It Out’ was particularly fast.

“No, I think that people like to hear fast numbers on Beatles singles, particularly ones they can dance to. They look for the ‘Michelles’ and the ‘Yesterdays’ on their LPs.

“The funny thing is, on the forthcoming album, even these kind of numbers are faster than usual. The whole thing moves… I think people will be surprised.”

Last updated on August 24, 2023


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