Conventional rock & roll wisdom states that the greatest 45 ever made was “Strawberry Field Fields Forever / Penny Lane,” but I say that isn’t even the greatest 45 that The Beatles ever made. This is.
In 1966, The Beatles were fucking insane. “Paperback Writer,” written and recorded around the same time as Revolver, combines the tough guitar riffs that The Rolling Stones & The Who were sporting with the multi-arranged harmonies that the Beach Boys and the Byrds were showcasing.
Oh, and it also happens to be the song that inspired the title of the greatest (and funniest) book ever written about The Beatles, Mark Shipper’s 1978 faux-history “Paperback Writer.”
Seriously, out of all of the parodies of story of the Beatles over the years, this is the best (though, admittedly, it lacks Eric Idle’s and Neil Innes’ songwriting chops), full of wonderful invented history (the song they wrote with Dylan!) silly running gags, and positing that they would get back together within a decade after they broke up. The chapter on the Beatles reunion is particularly poignant in light of subsequent events.
Good luck trying to find it, though: it’s been out of print forever, existing as at most a footnote when it comes to the massive volume of books written on the band.
Anyways, “Paperback Writer” is my favorite kind of Beatles song: big riffs, amazing bass and/or drum parts, awesome harmonies, and lyrics that tell some kind of story (though, given that they’re Paul’s lyrics, kind of a silly story).
Official Video for “Paperback Writer”
My Certain Songs Playlist on Spotify