The Beatles

The Beatles song that was rejected for its “weak arrangement”

The Beatles didn’t exactly have the luxury of rejecting songs. Thanks to their contract with EMI, the band were required to put out two albums worth of material a year, not including additional singles every few months or so. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were writing like mad men in the early days, partially because they knew they were tapping into something fertile, but also because they simply didn’t have any choice.

That being said, not everything could make the cut. Ringo Starr was originally going to sing an original on the Help! album rather than covering ‘Act Naturally’, but ‘If You’ve Got Trouble’ was deemed too inferior to be included on a Beatles LP. George Harrison had only his second self-written song, ‘You Know What to Do’, rejected from inclusion on A Hard Day’s Night. McCartney even saw one of his early tracks, ‘I’ll Be On My Way’, dropped from the band’s setlists.

The band didn’t always have the best foresight on these kinds of choices either. McCartney had written the song ‘A World Without Love’ for The Beatles to record, but neither he nor Lennon thought it was up to snuff. Instead, McCartney gave the song to Peter & Gordon, the pop duo he was producing at the time, who took ‘A World Without Love’ to number one. It wasn’t like The Beatles were desperate for number one hits (they already had four in America by the time ‘A World Without Love’ topped the charts), but even their discards were becoming major hits.

The same couldn’t be said for ‘Like Dreamers Do’, an early McCartney song that was written all the way back in the late 1950s. As one of the band’s formative songs, ‘Like Dreamers Do’ was performed at The Beatles’ failed Decca Records auction in 1962, where it was recorded and later included on Anthology 1.

“‘Like Dreamers Do’ was one of the very first songs I wrote and tried out at the Cavern,” McCartney said. We did a weak arrangement but certain of the kids liked it because it was unique, none of the other groups did it. It was actually a bit of a joke to try your own songs… For you to write it yourself was a bit plonky, and the songs obviously weren’t that great, but I felt we really had to break through that barrier because if we never tried our own songs we’d just never have the confidence to continue writing.”

“That’s Paul. That was another one that he’d written as a teenager and sort of resurrected and polished up for later on,” Lennon recalled to David Sheff in 1980. “That’s on the audition tape that we sent Decca which is around as a bootleg. I sing ‘To Know Her Is To Love Her’ and ‘Hello Little Girl’ and Paul sings ‘Like Dreamers Do’. I believe they’re all on that.”

A British group called The Applejacks took ‘Like Dreamers Do’ into the Top 20 on the UK Singles Chart in 1964, but that was likely because it was designated as a Lennon/McCartney original. The Beatles never officially recorded ‘Like Dreamers Do’, and it has yet to be revisited by McCartney in any form since the Decca audition.

Like Dreamers Do (Anthology 1 Version)

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