Sunday, 3 March 2013

Like Dreamers Do

Composer: Lennon / McCartney

Paul McCartney bass (Hofner 500/1 bass), Lead Vocal
John Lennon rhythm guitar (Rickenbacker 325 guitar)
George Harrison lead guitar (Gretsch Duo Jet guitar)
Pete Best drums (blue Premier kit with 26" kick drum)

Mike Smith: Producer
Peter Attwood: Engineer

Recorded: Monday 1 January 1962, Decca Studios, 165 Broadhurst Gardens, London
Recording Medium: Two Track

UK Release: December 1979 (LP: The Decca Tapes [Circuit Records LK 4438-1])
US Release: November 1977 (B Single / Searchin' [Deccagone PRO-1103])

Running Time:
  • Mono Mix: 2:35

Available on:
(Source: Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald, Vintage 2005, and Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four's Instruments from Stage to Studio, Andy Babuick, Backbeat Books 2002)
The empty Tin Pan Alley sentiment of the lyrics of Like Dreamers Do, written by McCartney in 1957, are surpassed by the ambitious arrangement. It was the first song recorded by The Beatles at their audition for Decca records.

The song begins with a chromatic climb through from C#minor through to A major, then switches to a verse based around a standard doo-wop sequence. The arrangement of the song is as follows:

  • Intro
  • Verse 1 
  • Chorus
  • Middle 8
  • Verse 2
  • Chorus
  • Middle 8
  • Repeat Verse 2
  • Chorus
  • Outro

McCartney, yet to find his own voice, sounds like he is trying to pull off an Elvis impression, and strains to reach the high notes at the end of the middle 8.

Producer Mike Smith was not happy with the sound of The Beatles' gig-worn amplifiers, and insisted on using Decca's own equipment. However, McCartney's bass sounds distorted here, suggesting that The Beatles are perhaps using their own amps here, and that the switch didn't come until later in the session.

Unsurprisingly, the production is poor - this was only an audition after all. Lennon's rhythm guitar is virtually inaudible, and the whole thing is bathed in reverb, compared with the much drier production favoured by George Martin. This is perhaps an indication of how The Beatles would have sounded had they been signed by Decca.

Although it was not part of The Beatles' official canon until 1994, when it was released on Anthology 1, Like Dreamers Do was recorded by Birmingham band The Applejacks in May 1964. Released by Decca (Decca F11916) on June 5th 1964, it climbed to number 20 on the UK chart. Ironically, the single was produced by Mike Smith, the same producer who oversaw The Beatles' failed Decca audition.