Beatle Lessons of the Beatles For Sale Period

1964 June 03-October 26
by Ken Westover
rev: 2012Oct15

This page is a miniscule look at material typically found in the book Songs of The Beatles' Beatles For Sale Period.

Beatles For Sale Period Releases

Seventeen songs were recorded during the Beatles For Sale Period. Fourteen were released on the Beatles For Sale LP, two were on a single, and one was not released during the Beatles' career.

1964 Nov 27
  Beatles For Sale (UKLP-9)
1964 Dec 04
Song Side
I Feel Fine A
She's A Woman B
SongLP Side-CutCD Track
No Reply 1-11
I'm A Loser 1-22
Baby's In Black 1-33
Rock And Roll Music 1-44
I'll Follow The Sun 1-55
Mr. Moonlight 1-66
Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey 1-77
Eight Days A Week 2-18
Words Of Love 2-29
Honey Don't 2-310
Every Little Thing 2-411
I Don't Want To Spoil The Party 2-512
What You're Doing 2-613
Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby 2-714

Period Prelude

1964 was perhaps the most remarkable year for any band in the history of bands. The first half of the year The Beatles made their first visit to (not tour of) the United States to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show and play a few concerts in the area.

They returned to England to shoot their first feature film, A Hard Day's Night, as well as write and record the soundtrack. When the filming was done they took a month-long vacation, then returned to finish recordings for the A Hard Day's Night LP and Long Tall Sally EP. They then immediately started touring to support the film and record releases.

Into The Period

The day before the tour was to begin, Ringo was rushed to the hospital with tonsil problems. After much internal debate it was decided Ringo would be replaced with drummer Jimmy Nicole until Ringo could return. For the next month The Beatles were on the road in Sweden, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand.

When they returned to England, The Beatles had a relatively light schedule through July until mid-August, when they flew to the US for their first proper tour of the country. But just before leaving, they recorded the last songs before marijuana came into their lives, including 'Baby's In Black' and 'I'm A Loser'. We can debate whether these songs represented the internal state of the songwriters before pot took root.

The Beatles were introduced to marijuana as a band when Bob Dylan came to their hotel room in New York City one night. The band loved the experience, but didn't take up the habit immediately. Use of the drug would gradually escalate after their return to England, and it's interesting speculation which songs were influenced by pot, in what way, and how much.

The Beatles were home just two weeks before starting a month-long tour of the UK. They recorded the remaining songs for the Beatles For Sale LP during two off-days of the tour.

Important Dates

Important Dates in the Beatles For Sale Period
Date Event
1964 Jun 03 Record last songs of the Hard Day's Night Period.
1964 Jun 04 - Jul 02 "World Tour" to Sweden, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand.
1964 Jul 06 The film A Hard Day's Night opens in London.
1964 Jul 10 Release UK LP-3, A Hard Day's Night
1964 Jul 10 Release UK 45-7, 'A Hard Day's Night' / 'Things We Said Today'.
1964 Jul 13 Release US 45-13, 'A Hard Day's Night'/ 'I Should Have Known Better'
1964 Jul John Lennon and George Harrison move from London to the suburbs, soon to be joined by Ringo. Paul stays in London.
1964 Jun 20 Release US LP-5, Something New
1964 Aug 18 - Sep 21 The Beatles' first proper US Tour, lasting five weeks. (Their first visit was just two concerts and TV appearances.)
1964 Aug 28 The Beatles get high on marijuana for the first time, courtesy of Bob Dylan.
1964 Oct 26 Record the last songs of the Beatles For Sale Period.

Details on all the sessions and releases are in the book Songs of The Beatles' Beatles For Sale Period.

Record Recording and Release Chronology

"Brian and I worked out a grand plan of campaign. A single would be released every three months and an album every six." - George Martin, producer of the Beatles.

The plan was working during the Beatles For Sale Period but had slipped to a single every four months. They had released the single 'Can't Buy Me Love' / 'You Can't Do That' in March, 'A Hard Day's Night' / 'Things We Said Today' in July, then 'I Feel Fine' / 'She's A Woman' in November. They had released A Hard Day's Night in July, then Beatles For Sale in December.

1964 Oct 08, 18: Record songs for UK45-8, 'I Feel Fine'/'She's A Woman'.
Actually, 'Eight Days A Week' (recorded 64Oct06) was expected to be on the next single, but 'I Feel Fine' came out so well it went on the A-side. (Session details and where to hear these recordings are listed in the book.)

1964 Nov 27: Release UK45-8, 'I Feel Fine'/'She's A Woman'
The Beatles' seventh straight #1 UK single. (Chart details are in the book.)

1964 Aug11-Oct26: Record songs for UKLP-4, Beatles For Sale
Recording of the Beatles' fourth album, With The Beatles, was completed on 1964 October 26 with the recording of 'Honey Don't' and some cleanup of 'What You're Doing'. (Session details and where to hear these recordings are listed in the book.) This marked the end of the Beatles For Sale Period and the start of the Help Period.

1964 December 04: Beatles For Sale released.
The Beatles For Sale LP entered the charts on 64Dec09 at #1. It remained in the Top 10 LP chart for six straight weeks, returning to #1 for another three weeks on 65Apr21. (Chart details are in the book.)

UK45-8: 'I Feel Fine'/ 'She's A Woman'

Released: 1964 Nov 27

I Feel Fine

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: John Lennon

Co-written by John and Paul, but more John's song than Paul's.

This song starts with the first known use of guitar feedback on record, at least as part of the song. Lennon had accidentally left his acoustic/electric guitar leaning against one of their new, more powerful amps, and walked away. Sympathetic vibrations set one of the strings humming, a new sound that The Beatles immediately wanted to incorporate into a recording.

For the music, John took the riff from 'Watch Your Step' (by Bobby Parker). Ringo took the drum riff from 'What'd I Say' (by Ray Charles).

She's A Woman

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: Paul McCartney

Co-written by John and Paul, but more Paul's song than John's. Paul was trying to write a bluesy, rock 'n' roll song in the style of Little Richard. It was perhaps the first Beatles song to have an intended reference to drugs in the lyrics ("turns me on").

UKLP-4: Beatles For Sale

Recorded: 1964 Aug 11-1964 Oct 26
Released: 1964 Dec 04

The Beatles For Sale sessions started 64Aug11 with 'Baby's In Black'. Two weeks later they recorded 'I'm A Loser', but then they ran out of originals. They fell back on 'Mr. Moonlight' (by Roy Lee Johnson) which made it onto the LP, then 'Leave My Kitten Alone' (by John/Turner/McDougal), which wasn't released.

Beatles For Sale Recording: Chronological
SongWritten by
Baby's In Black L&M
I'm A Loser L&M
Mr. Moonlight Roy Lee Johnson
Leave My Kitten Alone Little Willie John, Titus Turner, James McDougal
Every Little Thing L&M
I Don't Want To Spoil The Party L&M
What You're Doing L&M
No Reply L&M
Eight Days A Week L&M
She's A Woman L&M
Kansas City / Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey
I Feel Fine L&M
I'll Follow The Sun L&M
Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby Carl Perkins
Rock And Roll Music Chuck Berry
Words Of Love Buddy Holly
Honey Don't Carl Perkins

Song Details

Side One

No Reply

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: John (double-tracked).

Written mostly by John after his publisher challenged him to write a song that "resolves itself", like a complete story.

I'm A Loser

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: John.

Written mostly by John, the lyrics influenced by Bob Dylan with music in the country/western style. This was the last song written and recorded before The Beatles started smoking marijuana.

Baby's In Black

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: John & Paul

Co-written by John and Paul at John's house, Kenwood, in Weybridge. It was the first Beatles song with a death theme. It may have been inspired by the death of Beatles' bass player Stuart Sutcliffe two years earlier (62Apr10). Musically, it was played in an unusual three-four meter (waltz time).

Rock And Roll Music

by Chuck Berry

Lead vocal: John

John was a big fan of Chuck Berry songs. The Beatles played at least 14 in their career, and John sang lead on almost every one.

I'll Follow The Sun

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: Paul

Paul was the main writer of this old song. He wrote it about six years earlier at his childhood home on Forthlin Road. He probably wouldn't have put it up for consideration but The Beatles needed songs to finish the LP. It turned out well enough to earn John's rare approval - he called it "a nice one".

Mr. Moonlight

by Roy Lee Johnson

Lead vocal: John & Paul

The Beatles learned this song from the B-side of a 1962 single by Dr. Feelgood (previously Piano Red, real name William "Willie" Lee Perryman). They played the song live from 1962-63.

Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey

by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller / Richard "Little Richard" Penniman

Lead vocal: Paul

Little Richard was the first to combine these two songs into one, in 1959. The Beatles copied his version.

Side Two

Eight Days A Week

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: John

Co-written by John and Paul at John's house, Kenwood, in Weybridge, based on an idea for a title Paul picked up. It was perhaps the first pop song to have a fade-up beginning, the opposite of the industry standard fade-out ending.

Words Of Love

by Buddy Holly

Recorded: 1964 Oct 18.
Lead vocal: John & Paul.

Buddy Holly (of Buddy Holly & The Crickets) was a major influence on The Beatles, yet this was the only of his songs they recorded. They played at least 14 Cricket songs at one time or another in their live performances.

When they played this song live, John and George Harrison sang the duet, but John and Paul sang on this recording.


Of note is the percussion instrument Ringo is playing: the album notes say he's playing a "packing case". Is that what it sounds like to you? British listeners may be more likely to hear the latch of a packing case than Americans, whose suitcases had a different fastening mechanism.

The percussion is more interesting if you listen to a stereo mix (as on the US LP, Beatles VI). One sound (left channel) hits on the backbeat (the 2 & 4 of the 4-count). This could be the so-called packing case.

But a new sound starts later (most audible during the solo, about 0:50 into the song) hitting on eighth-notes (1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&). I think these are handclaps. In a mono mix, the sounds (case and claps) overlap.

(Ian MacDonald, author of Revolution In The Head, wrote "Starr slaps a packing case with a loose fastening, a noise resembling out-of-time clapping". It sounds like Ian heard both, but not having a stereo mix, felt it had to be one or the other.)

Also in question is the guitar(s) - what is it, or are they? The Vox Mando-guitar has been ruled out since it wasn't available until 1965, long after this song was recorded. Perhaps John's 12-string Rickenbacker 325? Or just a plain old six-string electric with treble boost? You pick.

Honey Don't

by Carl Perkins

Lead vocal: Ringo

Yet another Beatles idol, Carl Perkins, was paid tribute on this LP, with two songs appearing. The live Beatles repertoire had no fewer than ten Perkins' songs.

This was Ringo's token song on the LP, one he used to play when he was drummer with Rory Storm & The Hurricanes.

Every Little Thing

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: John

This song was written mostly by Paul at Jane Asher's house where he was living in London. This is one of the few songs where the song's writer did not sing the lead vocal. This was sometimes done when the melody fell just outside the vocal range of the writer. (see 'A Hard Day's Night', where Paul sings the middle-eight.)

I Don't Want To Spoil The Party

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: John.

Written mostly by John, with help from Paul. It has the usual John theme of the day, love and rejection.

What You're Doing

by Lennon & McCartney

Lead vocal: Paul.

We say this song was equally co-written by John and Paul, mainly because neither wanted to claim credit for it. Neither could remember much about it, Paul calling it album filler (songs used to fill the space between better songs on an LP).

Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby

by Carl Perkins

Lead vocal: George.

This was the second Carl Perkins song on this LP (see 'Honey Don't'). It features a start-stop beginning, as used by Perkins here and on his song 'Blue Suede Shoes'. The Beatles also ended the song with an unusual stumble-ending. Always trying something different, these guys.

Unreleased Song (during the Beatles' career)

Leave My Kitten Alone

by Little Willie John, Titus Turner, James McDougal

Lead vocal: John

The Beatles played Little Willie John's 'Leave My Kitten Alone' during live performances from 1961-62. It wasn't good enough for this LP, but can be heard on The Beatles' Anthology One CD.

Anomalies can be found at:

For more details about the Beatles For Sale LP, its history and songs, visit the Wikipedia Beatles For Sale web page.