- Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1959 (Paul McCartney was 17 years old)
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“Thinking of Linking” is an early song written by Paul McCartney and performed by McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr on Friday 23 June 1994. This performance did not feature in the original The Beatles Anthology documentary series but was later included as part of extra footage when the documentary was released on DVD in 2003. The song has a brief guitar introduction, one verse and no chorus.
McCartney wrote the song when he was about 16 years old. In 1988 Paul said “Thinking of Linking was terrible! I thought it up in the pictures, someone in a film mentioned it ‘we’re thinking of linking’ and I came out of there thinking ‘That should be a song. Thinking of linking, people are gonna get married, gotta write that!’” In the same interview McCartney also refers to the song as “Pretty corny stuff!”
Although the song was never completed beyond its one verse, it is historically significant as an example of one of the early songs that John Lennon and McCartney wrote together or separately before they had a publishing deal. Talking about such early songs, McCartney said “We wrote a few that never got published, before we went with a publisher, and I say, it’s really now they’re in here [his memory]. They never got put down anywhere so there’s really only my memory that can sort of remember them, you know. So it’s something I want to do something with actually, ’cause they’re pretty rough songs, but they’re not bad in a rock-a-billy kind of way.”
On Wednesday 29 January 1969 The Beatles performed an unrehearsed version of “Peggy Sue Got Married“, which became a medley when John began singing words from “Thinking of Linking“. This performance is brief and Sulphy and Schweighardt reported, ‘Unfortunately, everyone seems to have half-forgotten the tune.‘ Towards the end of this performance the distinctive introductory guitar chords can also be heard being played.
The inspiration for “Thinking Of Linking” was a cinema advertisement for a furniture company. George Harrison stated in the Anthology book (page 97), “I remember once sitting with Paul in the cinema on the corner of Rose Lane, not far from where he lived, near Penny Lane. They showed an ad for Link Furniture: ‘Are you thinking of linking?’ Paul said, ‘Oh, that would make a good song,’ and he wrote one that went, ‘Thinking of linking my life with you’.” McCartney recalls composing it at the front window of his home on Forthlin Road, and it probably dates to 1957, before Harrison joined the Quarry Men – he just happened to be present when the song was inspired.
This is one of a few early songs which was (almost) lost, but during the 1969 Get Back sessions, a brief snippet appears on the tapes from January 3. McCartney can barely remember it, attempting to sing a line but failing to recall tune or lyrics correctly. (Given his semi-improvised words, the song went down on bootlegs as “Thinking That You Love Me” or “I’ve Been Thinking That You Love Me”.)
A better recording was captured on January 29, this time with Lennon vocalising. Running through a rendition of Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue Got Married”, he noticed the similarity of chords and switched to “Thinking Of Linking” before veering off into a section apparently of his own making (“…When you say you care… you are everywhere…”). The fact that Lennon recalled the song come 1969 suggests the group had played it to some reasonable extent back in the day.
In 1988, McCartney sketched out a few of the song’s words to Mark Lewisohn in interview, but still it remained obscure. It was not until the filmed sessions by the ‘Threetles’ in 1994 that it was properly heard. In one of the few moments of apparent camaraderie between McCartney and Harrison, the latter kicked off a rendition on acoustic guitar, which McCartney delighted in. (Starr splashes away gamely with his brushes, despite possibly not knowing the song.) McCartney comments, “There’s no second verse”, so this is in effect a complete performance.
This rendition appeared as an extra on the bonus DVD when <em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”” normal”=””>Anthology was released, and is the best available by some measure. It is thanks to the clarity of the chords in this performance that the earlier “I’ve Been Thinking That You Love Me” was positively identified as a variation on the song, thereby erasing a false title from the songbook. (Bootlegs have made a mess of the documentation; “Cayenne” was erroneously called “Thinking Of Linking” on at least one CD. Elsewhere, bootlegs of the Hamburg tapes have used the title “Thinking Of Linking” against yet more songs.)
From Early Beatles Songs:
In spring 1960, at around the time the home recordings were taking place, McCartney and Stu Sutcliffe were both writing letters to local journalists and promoters, to try and get some group publicity. A few survive, including one written by McCartney to an unknown intended recipient, named only as Mr Low.
The letter is particularly interesting in that it mentions by name several very early Lennon-McCartney songs, a few of which are scarcely known. (In fact it is the only place we come across a song called “Keep Looking That Way”.) McCartney also claims that, “John and Paul have written over fifty tunes, ballads and fast numbers”, a writing tally which should be qualified by his later admission in the book The Beatles Anthology that, “Most of what we called our first hundred was probably our first five – we would lie our faces off then to get anyone to notice us.”
What survives of the letter can be read below:
Dear Mr Low,
I am sorry about the time I have taken to write to you, but I hope I have not left it too late. Here are some details about the group. It consists of four boys: Paul McCartney (guitar), John Lennon (guitar), Stuart Sutcliffe (bass) and George Harrison (another guitar) and is called…
This line-up may at first seem dull but it must be appreciated that as the boys have above average instrumental ability they achieve surprisingly varied effects. Their basic beat is off-beat, but this has recently tended to be accompanied by a faint on-beat; thus the overall sound is rather reminiscent of the four in the bar of traditional jazz. This could possibly be put down to the influence of Mr McCartney [Senior], who led one of the top local jazz bands (Jim Mac’s Jazz Band) in the 1920s.
Modern music, however, is the group’s delight, and, as if to prove the point, John and Paul have written over fifty tunes, ballads and faster numbers, during the last three years. Some of these tunes are purely instrumental (such as “Looking Glass”, “Catswalk” and “Winston’s Walk”) and others were composed with the modern audience in mind (tunes like “Thinking Of Linking”, “The One After 909”, “Years Roll Along” and “Keep Looking That Way”).
The group also derive a great deal of pleasure from rearranging old favourites (“Ain’t She Sweet”, “You Were Meant For Me”, “Home”, “Moonglow”, “You Are My Sunshine” and others).
Now for a few details about the boys themselves. John, who leads the group, attends the College of Art, and, as well as being an accomplished guitarist and banjo player, he is an experienced cartoonist. His many interests include painting, the theatre, poetry, and, of course, singing. He is 19 years old and is a founder member of the group.
Paul is 18 years old and is reading English Literature at Liverpool University. He, like the other boys, plays more than one instrument – his specialities being the piano and drums, plus, of course…
[surviving text ends here]
Last updated on March 2, 2019
Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.