When was it recorded? Sept. 11, 1962
When was it first released, and on which album? Oct. 5, 1962 as the B-side to “Love Me Do” (later on “Please Please Me”)
Who wrote it? McCartney
Have I heard this song before? No
What my research dug up:
“It’s just an idea for a song really, a theme song based on a letter, like the ‘Paperback Writer’ idea. It was pretty much mine. I don’t think John had much of a hand in it. There are certain themes that are easier than others to hang a song on, and a letter is one of them. ‘Dear John’ is the other version of it. The letter is a popular theme and it’s just my attempt at one of those. It’s not based in reality, nor did I write it to my girlfriend [Dot Rhone] from Hamburg, which some people think.” — Paul McCartney (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now)
According to John, Paul “was trying to write a ‘Soldier Boy’ like the Shirelles.” For the record, the Shirelles released that single in 1962, whence it quickly reached #1 on the US Billboard chart.
Quoth Wikipedia, “Lyrically constructed with their female audience in mind, the Beatles included it as part of their Cavern Club song set, where it was a favorite of the fans. The Beatles admired Buddy Holly and the Crickets… Writer Jonathan Cott suggested that the ‘P.S.’ part of the song was a subtle reference to ‘Peggy Sue’ from the lyric ‘I love you, Peggy Sue.’” If true, I find that interesting. (If false, I still find it interesting, but not as much.)
According to Alan Pollack, “The look and feel here is decidedly not that of rock-n-roll. It’s rather more like lounge-pop or Latin dance music, in large part due to the tempo, beat, and choice of percussion instrumentation.” He also called “P.S.” “an ironic blend of both backward and forward looking influences. On the one hand, the relatively soppy lyrics and the pop arrangement are reminiscent of their cover repertoire from the Decca audition period. By the same token, there’s a technical sophistication here, especially in the harmony and uneven phrasing, which looks well beyond many of the other apparently more original songs from the early EMI days.”
The Beatles Bible noted, “The Beatles first recorded an unknown number of takes of ‘P.S. I Love You’ at their first Abbey Road session on 6 June 1962, with Pete Best on drums. Then, during the second ‘Love Me Do’ session on 11 September, they remade it in 10 takes.” George Martin has already booked drummer Andy White for the session, so Ringo was relegated to playing maracas on this track.
British producer Ron Richards (who was filling in for George Martin) nixed “P.S. I Love You” as the A-side of their single due to the existence of a 1934 Rudy Vallée single with the same name. Onto the B-side it went!
Kind of sounds like elevator music…
As a B-side, “P.S. I Love You” peaked at #17 on the UK Singles Chart. When the tune was released in the US in 1964, it peaked at #10. Then, 20 years after its initial release, the song hit #4 on the UK Singles Chart in 1982. Odd.
Ringo finally got to play drums on the song during three recordings for BBC Radio. The last of these – recorded Jun. 17, 1963 for Jun. 25’s “Pop Go the Beatles” – appeared on last year’s “On Air – Live at the BBC Vol. 2.”
Despite what I said about elevator music earlier, I think I kind of like this one. It’s not one of their best – not by a long shot – but it’s cute.