Yellow Submarine / Eleanor Rigby

Timeline More from year 1966
UK release date:
Aug 05, 1966


Paperback Writer / Rain” was the thirteenth UK single from The Beatles.

From Wikipedia:

The Beatles chose to break with their previous policy by allowing album tracks to be issued on a UK single. The “Yellow Submarine” single was the Beatles’ thirteenth single release in the United Kingdom and the first to feature Starr as lead vocalist. It was issued there on 5 August 1966 as a double A-side with “Eleanor Rigby“, and in the United States on 8 August. In both countries, Revolver was released on the same day as the single. The pairing of a novelty song and a ballad devoid of any instrumentation played by a Beatle marked a considerable departure from the content of the band’s previous singles. Unusually for their post-1965 singles also, there were no promotional films made for either of the A-sides.

According to a report in Melody Maker on 30 July, the reason for the Beatles breaking with precedent and releasing a single from Revolver was to thwart sales of cover recordings of “Eleanor Rigby”. When Harrison was asked for the reason, he replied that the group had decided to “put it out” rather than watch as “dozens” of other artists scored hits with the songs. In his NME interview in August, Martin said:

“I was keen that the track be released in some way apart from the album, but you have to realise that the Beatles aren’t usually very happy about issuing material twice in this way. They feel that they might be cheating the public … However, we got to thinking about it, and we realised that the fans aren’t really being cheated at all. Most albums have only 12 tracks; the Beatles always do 14!”

Commercial performance

The single topped sales charts around the world. The double A-side was number 1 on Record Retailer‘s chart (later adopted as the UK Singles Chart) for four weeks during a chart run of 13 weeks. On Melody Maker‘s singles chart, it was number 1 for three weeks and then spent two weeks at number 2. It was the band’s twelfth consecutive chart-topping single in the UK. Despite the double A-side status there, “Yellow Submarine” was the song recognised with the Ivor Novello Award for highest certified sales of any A-side in 1966.

In the US, the single’s release coincided with the Beatles’ final tour and, further to the controversy over the “butcher cover” originally used for the Capitol Records LP Yesterday and Today, public furore over Lennon’s “More popular than Jesus” remarks, originally published in the UK in his “How a Beatle Lives” interview with Cleave. The “Jesus” controversy overshadowed the release of the single and the album there; public bonfires were held to burn their records and memorabilia, and many radio stations refused to play the Beatles’ music. The group were also vocal in their opposition to the Vietnam War, a stand that further redefined their public image in the US. Capitol were wary of the religious references in “Eleanor Rigby”, given the ongoing controversy, and instead promoted “Yellow Submarine” as the lead side. The song peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 (behind “You Can’t Hurry Love” by the Supremes) and number 1 on the charts compiled by Cash Box and Record World.

In Gould’s description, it was “the first ‘designated’ Beatles single since 1963” not to top the Billboard Hot 100, a result he attributes to Capitol’s caution in initially overlooking “Eleanor Rigby”. During the US tour, Beatles press officer Tony Barrow asked Leroy Aarons of The Washington Post to remove mention of the band’s “latest” single slipping on the charts when Aarons presented his article for their approval. In author Robert Rodriguez’s view, the radio bans were responsible for the song’s failure to top the chart. The single sold 1,200,000 copies in four weeks and, on 12 September, earned the Beatles their twenty-first US Gold Record award, a total they had achieved in just over two-and-a-half years. […]

It was made, originally, just for the LP. But then, Brian and our recording manager, and people like that, were talking to us and they thought that ‘Yellow Submarine’ was commercial and they wanted to release it as a single, which was the first time we have released anything off an LP as a single. So, we did and all it is is a children’s song. It’s not deep, it’s not anything, you know, it’s just a children’s song.

Ringo Starr – From “The Beatles: Off The Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

We just thought that we may as well put it out instead of sitting back and seeing dozens of cover versions all getting hits. We might as well cop a hit as well as anybody else. It’s believed that there are about 93 different versions of ‘Good Day Sunshine’ being put out! Apart from that, it’s a good commercial single. I like them both. ‘Yellow Submarine’ will appeal to old-age pensioners and that kind of mob, whereas ‘Eleanor Rigby’ will probably only appeal to Ray Davies types…

George Harrison – From “The Beatles: Off The Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

From Disc And Music Echo – August 6, 1966
From Cashbox – August 6, 1966

Last updated on October 24, 2023

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