Years Roll Along

Written by Lennon - McCartneyUnreleased song
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1958 (Paul McCartney was 16 years old)

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Song facts

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]

From Early Beatles Songs:

[Years Roll Along] was initially only on the record due to McCartney’s letter, which was first reproduced in the Beatles’ authorised biography of 1968 (by Hunter Davies). All that was then known was the song’s title, but this changed when it was recalled by its creator in his 1997 memoirs, Many Years From Now. There, he mentioned it as one he had not got around to finishing, and quoted the line, “It might have been winter when you told me”, which is as much substance as we have. This is one of several very early Beatles numbers rumoured to have been taped in 1962, without confirmation.

Last updated on March 3, 2019

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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