The world is about to hear a demo of Paul McCartney performing “A World Without Love”. Okay, the “world” won’t be hearing it. But those who attend Peter Asher’s multi-media presentation “Peter Asher: A Musical Memoir of the ’60s and Beyond” will get to hear it.
Here is what Peter Asher said about “A World Without Love” in this Rolling Stone article
As Asher soon learned, nothing became of the song. “No one wanted it,” he says. “John didn’t like it or something.” (The song has been credited to Lennon-McCartney, but McCartney apparently wrote it alone.) Billy J. Kramer, a Merseybeat singer of the time, also turned it down.
Not long after McCartney played “A World Without Love” for Asher (who taped it on a reel-to-reel deck), Peter and Gordon, the duo Asher formed with Gordon Waller, landed a record deal. Immediately, Asher asked McCartney if the duo could have the unfinished ballad. “Paul said, ‘Absolutely,’ but I had to nag him to write the bridge. It came several weeks later, just in time for the session.” As a result, the tape in Asher’s possession doesn’t feature the song’s bridge.
A Lennon-McCartney Case Study
This is an fascinating “case study” of the Lennon-McCartney partnership in action. Paul wrote a song, but John didn’t like it (the line “please lock me away” made him burst out in laughter), so it didn’t go any further. At Peter Asher’s request, Paul later finished the song, then Peter And Gordon had a number one hit with it. To this day, it’s a staple on oldies channels. However, it isn’t a Beatles song, and isn’t associated with them beyond the occasional mention of it’s authorship.
The dismissal of “World Without Love” is a case of John’s aesthetics guiding the direction of the band. Had the Beatles put it out, it would likely have been a huge hit. However, given that the song was on the “softer” or more “sappy” side of McCartney’s writing, this would no doubt have given weight to the opinion that the Beatles were less rock, and more pop. Of course, that is the essence of McCartney – less rock, more pop. But the Beatles straddled the fence. Lennon’s veto (or indifference) of “World Without Love” contributed to keeping the Beatles in the rock category (rather than veering into soft rock or pop). They maintained rock credibility, while also being a massive commercial act.
This single instance of Lennon guiding the artistic direction of the group probably didn’t do much more than deny the Beatles another hit. However, I’m sure this sort of thing happened all the time in the group. And no doubt, they probably self-censored a lot in anticipation of the other’s opinion. I can’t think of an instance in the earlier years of McCartney pushing back on Lennon. Of course, in the later years McCartney pushed back on “Revolution” as an A-Side and recording “Cold Turkey” at all, which possibly protected the group’s image and commercial standing.
Post-breakup, without anyone pushing back on either of them, and most likely getting encouragement to follow their individual leanings, their identities naturally manifested in their work. Thus, Lennon’s work grew more experimental and sometimes controversial, which eventually hurt his commercial appeal. Paul became more commercial, and a little softer, but lost some of his rock credibility.