The ‘Throwaway’ Beatles Song John Lennon Gave To The Rolling Stones
Producing original tunes is a work that requires various processes. The creative direction one may want to take might be dismissed by the others. Stevie Nicks, for instance, was a bit resentful towards Fleetwood Mac for this very reason. The singer had explained that the band would edit her raw tunes and lyrics until they were unrecognizable, and for obvious reasons, Nicks didn’t enjoy that.
Yet, the words ‘produce’ or ‘compose’ might now feel like a notion of the past. Even though there are still many talented artists and bands trying to establish their original sound and lyrics, ‘borrowing‘ tracks from ghostwriters is widely common in today’s music industry. For instance, Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds once revealed that he was the ghostwriter of a hit song many might be familiar with.
Although musicians exchanging melodies or lyrics has been common, the story regarding the Beatles lending a track to the Rolling Stones is definitely one of a kind. While the Beatles had become well-known figures in the British rock scene in the early ’60s, the Rolling Stones were just making their debut. So, when John Lennon and Paul McCartney wanted to give them a potential hit, how could Mick Jagger have said no?
Which Song Did The Beatles Let The Rolling Stones Use?
The story of the two cult acts’ encounter varies from source to source, but Mick Jagger would recall that day during an interview in 1968. The frontman explained that their former manager Andrew Loog Oldham had introduced the musicians. One day, while the Rolling Stones were rehearsing, Oldham had brought Lennon and McCartney to the studio.
Jagger recalled that the Beatles icons said they had composed a great tune and wanted the Rolling Stones to have it. When John and Paul played the song, it sounded commercial which was what Mick and his act needed. So, they didn’t skip the opportunity to add the song to their catalog, and the track was later called ‘I Wanna Be Your Man.’
The frontman explained that they had tried to infuse Elmore James’ style into the song. To Mick Jagger, the track was ‘crackers,’ yet it managed to become a hit. He emphasized that it was also a good song to perform on stage. Thus, it initially seemed like the Beatles sincerely wanted to help out the up-and-coming band.
The Rolling Stones frontman’s thoughts regarding the track:
“We knew the Beatles by then, and we were rehearsing, and Andrew brought Paul and John down to the rehearsal. They said they had this tune, they were really hustlers then. So they played it, and we thought it sounded pretty commercial, which is what we were looking for, so we did it like Elmore James or something. It was completely crackers, but it was a hit and sounded great on stage.”
However, the perspectives would vary as John Lennon’s thoughts on ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ was quite different. During one of his final interviews in 1980, the singer was dismissive of the song and would describe it as a ‘throwaway.’ In the track’s only version produced by the Beatles, Ringo Starr had taken the lead.
For Lennon, giving up the lead vocals of a song showed how much they cared about the track. The musician also admitted that the Beatles wouldn’t give any material of value to the Rolling Stones. Even if the song achieved commercial success, John was dismissive and didn’t think it was worthy.
John Lennon’s revelation on ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’:
“It was a throwaway. The only two versions of the song were Ringo and the Rolling Stones. That shows how much importance we put on it: We weren’t going to give them anything great, right?”
There are always two sides to a story. To Mick Jagger, the song gave them a key on the road to commerciality. Lennon, however, thought differently and belittled the song by saying that the Beatles wouldn’t give away any important material to another band. Yet, the song would go on to become one of the Rolling Stones’ first hits on the charts. Thus, it seems like the audience would disagree with Lennon’s dismissal.