Day 100: “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party”

When was it recorded?  Sept. 29-30, 1964

When was it first released, and on which album?  Dec. 4, 1964 on “Beatles for Sale”

Who wrote it?  Lennon

Have I heard this song before?  No

What my research dug up:

According to Wikipedia, “The lyrics [of “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party”] revisit Lennon’s familiar themes of alienation and inner pain.” Alan Pollack noted, “The party that should have been a blast but which turned out to be a supremely hurtful confrontation with romantic disappointment or betrayal is one of the archetypal scenarios of the Top-40 pop-song genre.”

Since Pollack later compares “I Don’t Want” to Lesley Gore’s infamous “It’s My Party” in his notes, I think I can include that song for reference guilt-free. Written in 1962 by John Gluck, Wally Gold, and Herb Weiner, American singer Gore’s cover of “Party” was a #1 hit in May 1963.

(Of course, now I’ll have to deal with having it stuck in my head the rest of the day.)

According to Pollack, less is more – “It’s My Party” “spells out a kiss-and-tell tale of woe in almost embarrassing detail. What John gives us, in contrast, is much more internally ruminative, sparse, and ambiguous. …it’s impossible to tell for sure from just the lyrics alone what kind of relationship existed between the protagonist and his beloved prior to ‘the party.’” Pollack argues, “such ambiguity is …not only is more “poetic” by nature, but also opens up the likelihood of the song,” meaning more listeners can relate to the events of “I Don’t Want.”

Interviews from Paul indicate the song was written with the intent to have Ringo sing it. Nevertheless, John takes the lead on the album version.

The Beatles recorded 19 takes of “I Don’t Want” on Sept. 29, 1964. The last take was used for the album “Beatles for Sale.”

On Feb. 15, 1965, “I Don’t Want” appeared as the B-side to the “Eight Days a Week” single in America. As such, the song peaked at #39 on the US Billboard music charts.

I really liked this one.  Going in, I think was subconsciously comparing “I Don’t Want” to “It’s My Party,” which I’ve heard a thousand times and find hokey.  But “I Don’t Want” is charming, folsky, and relatable.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to throw myself a party for making it to 100 days on this blog!



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