Peter and Gordon – A World Without Love

First Hit #1: June 27, 1964

The British invasion continues with Peter and Gordon, an English duo playing what, to these ears, sounded like a weak attempt to replicate the signature Beatles sound. I try to listen to these things without knowing much about them, and to me it seemed to a kind of muddled Beatles, a similar sound but a song that lacked the polish and finesse of the band itself, which tries to be a song about losing a lover, but it only halfhearted about it, since the true love does show up. It’s got the bones of a great song, and Peter and Gordon do a good job of it, but it just doesn’t quite know what it wants to be.

Turns out I was right to call it a weak Beatles, but that the impression was due to it being written by Paul McCartney, and being considered by the band to be not quite good enough for them. That kind of confirms my impression, since it isn’t good enough. I think a couple rewrites and a clear vision could make it really good, but as it is, it’s a talented but inexperienced songwriter who couldn’t quite finish the idea.

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4 Responses to Peter and Gordon – A World Without Love

  1. apollo c vermouth says:

    ….That kind of confirms my impression, since it isn’t good enough. I think a couple rewrites and a clear vision could make it really good, but as it is, it’s a talented but inexperienced songwriter who couldn’t quite finish the idea.

    You’re an idiot!

    • Devin says:

      In my defense, the songwriter does agree with me, which is why they sold it to Peter and Gordon. And he WAS inexperienced when he wrote it – it was pre-Beatles, written when he was 16 from what I’ve read – so it’s not like I’m just being mean.

      I would actually like to hear your rebuttal, rather than just lobbing out an insult without attempting to defend the song – I welcome a dissenting opinion that’s actually informed, rather than a pointless insult that ads nothing to the conversation. This is, after all, one man’s journey through pop music, everyone else would have a different impression so it would be interesting to read why you like it and think I’m off base. It’s unfortunate that you’re unwilling to do that.

  2. apollo c vermouth says:

    So, you looked this up in Wikipedia. Great.

    Don’t suppose you were actually around to hear this song in 1964? During its chart time when the origination of this song was widely discussed.
    It isn’t from 1958 when Paul was 16 and, like a number of other L&M titles from the early Beatlemania period, never seriously considered for the Beatles. Instead it came durintg the period when J&P were encouraged to write material particularly for ‘associated’ (Epstein managed) artists.

    ….In my defense, the songwriter does agree with me, which is why they sold it

    No,
    Paul’s giving to his friend doesn’t, in any way, mean he ‘agrees’ with you. Its lack of polish/whatever.
    Paul lived with the Ashers in the same home as Peter at this time. After Love Me Do, Please Please Me, I Saw Her Standing There etc, big hits already, so Paul was certainly not inexperienced when this was finished.
    Whether any words/ideas were from some earlier days isn’t relevant. Creators don’t simply ‘create’ all at once. Paul didn’t hand off what he’d consider an inferior song to the brother of his current lady.

    That it doesn’t match up to the Beatles own efforts…well sure. But compared to the contemporary pop hits of the day, ‘A World Without Love’ holds up just fine.

    And finally, your suggestion….
    ….. “I think a couple rewrites and a clear vision could make it really good”
    is quite presumptuous. To say the least from 45 years on.

    • Devin says:

      No, I wasn’t actually around, which is kind of the purpose of the project, to see where pop music has come from and how we got to the current popular artists. I admit that the very nature of this project means that I can’t do a huge amount of research – it’s a song a day, you’ve got to pump these things up pretty quickly if you want to actually get these things out – but everything I’ve read indicates a song which wasn’t quite good enough for the main band.

      Now, you’re right that compared to pop hits of the day it holds up fine, and I probably came off as more harsh than I intended just because of where the song falls in the calender – 1964 was an extremely strong year for pop music, probably the best there has been so far. There are a couple times that songs I genuinely like a great deal came off as a bit weak in context – it happened to Love Me Do, a great song that’s merely not as great as the other singles of the year (and suffers a bit from George Martin’s early suspicion of the bands’ drummers). I know, if this had come out in ’63 I would have come off as much more kind, and I apologize for that.

      I say that with a few rewrites it could be good because the verses get a bit problematic, especially the last one. The chorus is fine and the melody is as well, but it gets muddled before the end. Had they kept it under their hat until a few years later it could have been refined into something better – you can tell Lennon-McCartney’s songwriting ability grew immensely in the first few albums, the songs get increasingly complex and inventive each go around. I stand by inexperienced, which is not a synonym for bad, especially since I don’t think there’s a songwriting duo in popular music that evolved as much as they did – even within a short period of time, the level of the songs on A Hard Day’s Night are significantly higher than Please Please Me, an the latter is an extremely strong album. Raw talent can create brilliant work, raw talent plus experience equals some of the best albums recorded. Not saying you should agree with me, but that’s how I see it.

      Whether or not we agree, and it’s clear we probably won’t, having a dissenting opinion in the comments is a huge asset, especially from someone who actually was there and probably has a better idea of the context. I’m just one guy, after all, and pop music gets a huge number of reactions.

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