Day 97: “How Do You Do It?”

When was it recorded?  Sept. 4, 1962

When was it first released, and on which album?  Nov. 21, 1995 on “Anthology 1”

Who wrote it?  Mitch Murray

Have I heard this song before?  No

What my research dug up:

English songwriter and record producer Mitch Murray wrote “How Do You Do It?” early in his lengthy (and ongoing) music career. The tune was, in fact, his “first major songwriting success” (Wikipedia), attracting attention from numerous other record producers and bands.

First, “How Do You Do It?” was offered to Adam Faith. According to Wikipedia, Faith was “one of Britain’s significant early pop stars,” “one of the most charted acts of the 1960s,” and “the first UK artist to lodge his initial seven hits in the Top 5.” Faith was also one of the first popular artists to try his hand at writing his own material; probably related to this fact, he turned down the offer to record “How Do You Do It?”

The tune went to the Beatles next, destined to be their debut single… or so George Martin hoped.

“That was a regular part of my life: I spent a lot of time looking for songs, and what I wanted for The Beatles was a hit. I was convinced that ‘How Do You Do It’ was a hit song. Not a great piece of songwriting, not the most marvelous song I had ever heard in my life, but I thought it had that essential ingredient which would appeal to a lot of people.” — George Martin (Anthology)

The Beatles were less than impressed with the number. More importantly, they thought it went against the sound and image they wanted to cultivate.

“He knew it was a number one hit so he gave us it on a demo… We took it back to Liverpool and said, ‘What are we gonna do with this? This is what he wants us to do, he’s our producer, we’ll have to do it, we’ll have to learn it.’ So we did, but we didn’t like it and we came back to George and said, ‘Well it may be a number one but we just don’t want this kind of song, we don’t want to go out with that kind of reputation. It’s a different thing we’re going for, it’s something new’. I suppose we were quite forceful really, for people in our position. And he understood.” — Paul McCartney (Mark Lewisohn, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions)

Quoth the Beatles Bible, “The Beatles knew that their credibility as musicians, particularly in Liverpool, would be adversely affected by such a breezy pop song, and persuaded George Martin to release ‘Love Me Do’ instead of ‘How Do You Do It.’” The rest is history.

To please the studio, the Beatles did recorded “How Do You Do It?” on Sept. 4, 1962. According to the Beatles Bible, “they didn’t put too much effort into it. It was dashed off quickly at the start of the session, in order to spend more time on ‘Love Me Do.’” Their demo was not officially released until 1995, when it was included on “Anthology 1” (though it wound up on a bootleg or two in the intervening years).

George Martin, still convinced “How Do You Do It?” had potential, shopped the song to Gerry and the Pacemakers, who I mentioned on Day 85: “Hello Little Girl.” Another boy band from Liverpool that toured Hamburg, was managed by Brian Epstein, and recorded under George Martin, the Pacemakers released “How Do You Do It?” as their debut single. (It’s like the Beatles from a parallel universe, except in a shared timeline.) Recorded Jan. 22, 1963, and released two months later, “How Do You Do It?” was a #1 single in Britain for three weeks. It peaked on the US charts at #9.

It’s… pretty much the same as the Beatles’ version. The song’s success encouraged Murray to send them another song of his, “I Like It,” which became the Pacemaker’s second #1 hit. According to Wikipedia, Gerry and the Pacemakers “are most remembered for being the first act to reach number one in the UK Singles Chart with their first three single releases.” Despite their early popularity, however, the band never had a #1 single afterwards and broke up in Oct. 1966.

I’m not a huge fan of the song, but I do prefer the Beatles’ version of “How Do You Do It?”  Then again, I may be biased (given I run, you know, a Beatles blog).




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