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UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of John Lennon (1940-1980) and Paul McCartney (right) from The Beatles posed in 1963. (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)

A shot at the big time: the first song released by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Some of the biggest influences from John Lennon and Paul McCartney are so ingrained into music history that it’s easy to miss him. No matter how many times artists go to the drawing board trying to build themselves the perfect song, there are many times when they come up for air and realise that it was something that The Beatles did a long time ago. Every band starts somewhere, and the first original track that Lennon and McCartney ever recorded together came before the 1960s arrived with ‘In Spite Of All the Danger’.

If you look at how they were making ends meet, though, you would swear that the band were the 1950s equivalent of punks in their day. Their first few shows were being played to only a handful of people and usually Lennon would get paid in beer when putting together groups like The Quarrymen.

After a chance meeting with Paul McCartney at a village fete, Lennon knew that there was something different about his new friend. This guy could play with the same passion that he could, so just imagine what would happen if both of them played together onstage.

Once McCartney joined in on second guitar and brought in his school buddy George Harrison, things started to fall into place for the future Beatles. The Quarrymen were now a thing of the past, though, and if they were to get anywhere, they had to at least get their sounds on vinyl at some point.

Although many of the band’s greatest hits came down to Lennon and McCartney relying on their memory to figure out how they went, ‘In Spite of All the Danger’ is a far greater piece than most people get on their first try in the studio. Cutting the equivalent of a demo record in 1958, the entire track consists of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison on acoustic guitars singing a simple love song about staying true to their lovers.

It is, granted, not the most earth-shattering topic that anyone has ever taken on, but it did mark the first time the world was introduced to the trio’s knack for harmonies. Compared to Lennon and McCartney taking the lead, some of the best parts of the song actually come from Harrison, who wordlessly sings in the background on the verses, which was enough to get him credit alongside his bandmates.

While the piece clearly bleeds Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, the songwriting duo were bound to go on to different styles of music. Immersing themselves in every genre they could think of, part of the reason why the band worked so well together is how much they absorbed from other artists, from the emotion of soul to the rambunctiousness of rock and roll to the sophisticated sounds of classical music later in their career.

For now, they were just a bunch of scruffy young lads looking for a shot at the big time. They certainly had a long way ago, but the journey ‘In Spite of All the Danger’ took from their first demo to one highlight of McCartney’s recent live shows is a tremendous journey for one acoustic song.

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