The version featured on the single and album was recorded in ten takes on September 11, 1962 at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios, London. Producer George Martin had booked session drummer Andy White as a replacement for Pete Best, whom he considered not technically good enough for recording purposes (Martin was unaware that Best had been fired and replaced by Ringo Starr who plays maracas on the song). White was a freelance show band and session drummer, and gave the recording a lightweight cha cha treatment.
Martin was not present at the session, which was run by Ron Richards in his absence. Richards told the group that the song could not be the A-side of their single because of an earlier song of the same title: “I was originally a music publishing man, a plugger, so I knew someone had done a record with that title. I said to Paul ‘You can have it as B-side, but not an A-side’ ” (despite other titles having been used for multiple hit songs without legal difficulties).
The Beatles (with Starr playing the drums) also recorded this song at the BBC on October 25, 1962, November 27, 1962 and June 17, 1963 for subsequent broadcast on the BBC radio programs Here We Go, Talent Spot, and Pop Go The Beatles, respectively.
Written in 1961, while Paul McCartney was in Hamburg, this song is sometimes considered to be a dedication to his then-girlfriend Dot Rhone, However, McCartney denies this; he described “P.S. I Love You” as
"A theme song based on a letter… It was pretty much mine. I don’t think John had much of a hand in it. There are a certain themes that are easier than others to hang a song on, and a letter is one of them… It’s not based in reality, nor did I write it to my girlfriend from Hamburg, which some people think."
John Lennon said about this song:
"That’s Paul’s song. He was trying to write a “Soldier Boy” like The Shirelles. He wrote that in Germany, or when we were going to Hamburg. I might have contributed something. I can’t remember anything in particular. It was mainly his song."
(“Soldier Boy” was a US #1 single for the Shirelles in 1962.)
Melodically it could be considered in retrospect as typical of McCartney’s writing style, with Lennon contributing a single note harmony emphasizing the beginning of each stanza. There are two notable exceptions to the contemporaneous model. During the opening chorus the chord C#7 is placed incongruously between G and D (on write), and during the song’s title phrase a sudden shift to the B flat occurs underneath “P.S. I love you” which Ian MacDonald described as “a dark sidestep”. Lyrically constructed with their female audience in mind, the Beatles included it as a part of their Cavern Club song set where it was a favorite of the fans. The Beatles admired Bubby Holly and the Crickets (best demonstrated by their cover of “Words of Love” on the Beatles for Sale album). Writer Jonathan Cott suggested the “P.S.” part of the song was a subtle reference to “Peggy Sue”, from the lyric “I love you, Peggy Sue.”
Missing master tape Edit
No original master tapes of the September 11 version of "P.S. i Love You" are known to exist. Standard procedure at Abbey Road Studios at the time was to erase the original two-track session tape for singles once they had been "mixed down" to the (usually monaural) master tape used to press records. This was the fate of two Beatles singles (four songs): "Love Me Do", "P.S. I Love You", "She Loves You", and "I'll Get You".
Despite the song's phenomenal success, it is absent from most compilations, most notably the Red Album.
On its 20th anniversary, Parlophone re-issued "P.S. I Love You" as a picture disc, and shortly afterwards as a 12-inch disc.
- Paul McCartney: lead vocal, bass guitar
- John Lennon: backing vocal, acoustic guitar
- George Harrison: backing vocal, lead guitar
- Ringo Starr: maracas
- Andy White: drums
- Ron Richards: producer
- Norman Smith: engineer
Cover versions Edit
"P.S. I Love You" has been covered by:
- Sonny Curtis in 1964.
- Peter Lipa on his 2003 album Beatles in Blue(s) which features unusual cover versions of sixteen Beatles songs.
- Filipino actress and singer Jolina Magdangal covered the song on her 2000 album On Memory Lane.
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