The Beatles, ‘Paperback Writer’ and Nearly At The Finish Line

WIAA: Alyson…, oh Alyson.

Alyson: I know, I know WIAA – It appears that I’ve gone quiet around here again, but all for a good reason. One final push and I think I’ll actually finish my course and get a qualification. I had a project to submit yesterday which took three weeks of hard graft – Doesn’t leave much time for blogging.

WIAA: Understandable then. It’s just that my pages were feeling a little unloved again.


Alyson: Sorry WIAA. It’s also not lost on me that just as we seemed to be finally getting back to normal after two years of pandemic-related anxiety and restrictions, the biggest, most scary scenario imaginable has actually come to pass. I can’t pretend to understand all the background detail to what’s going on, and it’s complicated, not black and white, but could the 21st century really get any worse?

WIAA: Again, understandable then that you’ve not been feeling ‘blogging inclined’.

Alyson: Here’s the irony WIAA. Exactly 40 years ago right now I was in the midst of studying for my finals, at University. Those stressful last few weeks were overshadowed by the fact our country went to war, with a large South American country. Some of our lecturers lost the will to tutor us, such was their dismay at what had happened. Rumours went round that young males (our boyfriends) would be conscripted. Of course that didn’t happen, and our lecturers did put the processes in place for us to sit our finals, but with only seven weeks left to go on my current course, I’m experiencing a terrible sense of déjà vu albeit on a far scarier level.

WIAA: How about sharing a song to take your mind off things?

Alyson: Always a joy WIAA, although not much time today for all the background research I like to include around here. As I’ve had to read so many books over the last few weeks (my chosen author for my project was the wonderfully clever Kate Atkinson), I think something about writers might be a good idea. Here is Paperback Writer by the Beatles, one of their non-album singles from 1966.

Paperback Writer by the Beatles:


Last month I spent the guts of a weekend watching Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back mini-series on Disney+, which documented their time making the Let It Be album, culminating in that rooftop performance in Central London. I loved it, and as others have said, because the footage has been so skilfully remastered, it looks as if it could have been made yesterday. All four Beatles were back in our lives and with eight hours of airtime, you got a real insight into how they were with each other at that time in early 1969. Not as bad as was always made out it seems.


Anyway, I have a copious amount of notes that I want to make into a Get Back blog post at some point, but I did also have one of those revelatory moments when watching it. Yoko Ono was permanently attached to John throughout the whole thing, never veering far from his side. How annoying for the rest of them I thought until I realised that 40 years ago, I too was that limpet. He doesn’t get mentioned around here often, as I’m not as anonymous as I used to be and don’t want to cause any upset, but the student boyfriend and I were rarely apart during those years which meant whenever he spent time with his male friends I was always there too, as I had done the unthinkable and dropped my female friends. In the library, in the bar, having lunch in the refectory, at the football pitch, yep, I was always there…

I was Yoko.

Although I have now lost touch with that entire group of young men, all these years later I can only apologise for my limpet-like behaviour. I’m still really glad you didn’t get conscripted, but instead got to the finish line and sat your finals. Let’s hope the same can be said for the class of ’22.

Yoko Ono

Until next time…

Paperback Writer
Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

It’s the dirty story of a dirty man
And his clinging wife doesn’t understand
His son is working for the Daily Mail
It’s a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

Paperback writer

It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few
I’ll be writing more in a week or two
I can make it longer if you like the style
I can change it round and I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

If you really like it you can have the rights
It could make a million for you overnight
If you must return it, you can send it here
But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

Paperback writer

Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer (fade out)

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

16 thoughts on “The Beatles, ‘Paperback Writer’ and Nearly At The Finish Line”

  1. Paperback Writer is one of the most over-looked records in The Beatles back catalogue, in my book. That out-of-character rocking guitar riff! I’m yet to dive into the Get Back doc, I figure I have enough distractions from doing real life stuff as it is without adding another 8 hours of watching Lennon bristle as McCartney is a genius (from what I’ve heard), but as yours is another voice I listen to telling me it would be 8 hours well spent, I think I can’t really put it off much longer. Sorry, wfh desk: you’ll have to wait a bit longer. Blame Alyson!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m always amazed at how so many of the really well-known singles were never on an album, but how they did things back then I suppose. As for the doc mini-series, you could dip in and out as I did over a few days (and dare I say it, skip through some of the more boring bits) but it really gives you a sense of where they were at as a band around that time. They were veering in different directions but not as much bristling as I expected. Like a few workmates getting back together after the festive break. And of course, the sharpness of the footage really brings them straight into your 2022 living room. There will always be time for the desk.

      Thanks for dropping by – A pleasant surprise for a Saturday. Nice to see you venturing out.

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    1. True – At least I didn’t disturb them with my ululating over lunch in the refectory. (Yoko does a bit of that in the Get Back doc.)

      I’m not finished yet, two essays still to go, but I’m hopeful. You know how these things work, I’m a long way off getting the originally planned-for degree as I had to convert to part-time, but I think if I can get this qualification in the bag within the deadline, I can relax a bit, and just pick up some modules at my own pace. That’s the plan anyway.

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    1. I think lots of people have done just that, signed up for the free trial to watch Get Back. As it turned out I casually mentioned to my daughter that I really wanted to watch it but it was only on Disney+, only for her to inform me that she did have a subscription. Wish I’d known that earlier!

      Yes, they’ve really stayed strong and with this new film a whole new generation will get to know them better.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve certainly taken my time but what happens when you’re a part-time student. Nearly finished now though.

      Did you ever take on that screen-writing course? We did that module last term and it ended up being a lot less scary than I thought it would be. We all quite enjoyed it and I ended up with some scripts I’m quite proud of.

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    1. Yes, lots of little moments like that. I liked that it took 8 hours to watch as real fly-on-the-wall stuff. There’s a bit too much of that kind of telly around nowadays but when it’s the Beatles you’re watching, it made for riveting viewing.

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        1. Gosh didn’t notice that first time round – Got it now. I’m sure they do that in the doc too at some point so I thought you’d watched a preview clip or something.

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  2. Ah, geat news about your course, so good to know you’re nearly there – that qualification eagerly awaits you. Given what you know about the course now, would you still do it? I hope so. Paperback Writer is one of my favourite Beatles songs, just so hooky in all the right places. I cannot believe you were anything like Yoko! I certainly hope you don’t, erm, “sing” like her. Remind me too, when we meet again (yes!), to tell you something about Y which backs up certain perceptions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not a particularly impressive qualification but I’ve done lots of short courses over the years that never lead to anything, so this time I’ve had the discipline to keep going until I complete all the modules. Sadly the course changed totally because of covid restrictions – not the college’s fault but I had hoped to meet and get to know lots of like-minded people. I’m still in touch with some of the students from 1st year but I’ve not met anyone on the course face to face over the last two years at all so definitely not what I signed up for. Same for all of us sadly and I feel sorry for the students who have yet to leave their school bedroom.

      I don’t know, I was definitely a limpet, and very quiet back then so the Yoko similarities were there – Definitely no screaming/wailing in the name of singing, however. Looking forward to hearing that story about her – Crossing everything our plans come to fruition this time!

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