The Beatles released their fifth studio album, Help!, in 1965 as the soundtrack to their film of the same name. But not all the songs they wrote made it to the final pressing. Behind the scenes, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote a slew of tracks that were ultimately left on the cutting room floor. One entry, in particular, was a struggle to get the band to sing properly, so they had no choice but to give up.
Lennon recalled the abandoned piece in his 1980 interview with David Sheff. He explained, “The song is a ballad that Paul and I wrote for the movie, but found we just couldn’t sing it.”
The Imagine singer revealed that not only did they have trouble singing it, but they “hashed it” by trying to record it multiple times.
He added: “So, we thought it would be best to give it to someone who could do it right.”
The song in question was That Means a Lot, a song written by McCartney that called for an extremely talented and versatile singer, but neither he nor Lennon felt they could do him justice.
Lennon and McCartney reportedly recorded three different versions of the song on February 20, 1965 in a studio, but all three were deemed unusable.
That Means a Lot demos were later released on 1996’s The Beatles Anthology 2, but even then it was met with harsh criticism.
Music critic Ian Macdonald described the work as “a flop”, before adding: “[It was] correctly excluded from Help! album.”
Eventually Lennon and McCartney gave it away. The latter pointed out that he only did it because other musicians in the music industry were after them for new tracks written by legendary Beatles stars.
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McCartney recalled, “They would say, ‘Trust me, I think I can do a good job, and your name on it would be a great asset.'”
Lennon and McCartney eventually gave That Means a Lot to Texan singer-songwriter PJ Proby, another act managed by Beatles manager Brian Epstein.
He released it as a single in 1965 to moderate success, reaching number 24 in the UK singles charts in the process.
McCartney recalled, “So PJ Proby, a friend of ours who we met during the Jack Good TV show we did, Round The Beatles, wanted to do it, so I gave it to him. He had minor success with it.”
Instead of That Means a Lot, The Beatles released two hit singles from Help!: the title track and Ticket To Ride. Both reached the number one spot on the charts around the world.
Behind the scenes, however, Lennon was enduring some personal struggles. He later described the content of Help! as his way of “screaming for help”.
He continued, “Most people think it’s just a fast rock ‘n’ roll song. I didn’t realize it at the time; I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie… It was my fat Elvis.” period.”
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