First Hit #1: June 25, 1966
When I hear Paperback Writer I can’t help but wonder if I’m missing some kind of important cultural touchstones. In telling the story of a desperate writer, there are many pretty specific references that fly past, but seem like they would make sense in the context. Like the Daily Mail part, it’s a specific reference to something, but I’m not sure if Lennon/McCartney were referencing an actual incident or if it’s just a general view of the paper back in the ’60s. It’s a song where coming in 40 years later makes you wonder if you’re hitting the full picture.
Musically, however, Paperback Writer is notable for the band going loud. It is easily the hardest hitting song with a falsetto bit thus featured, and the sound overall is much harder hitting than previous Beatles singles. Of course, there’s a reason for this, new ways of recording bass and mastering, but it definitely takes the song somewhere else. It could easily be some interesting light pop, but by trying to make it tough it gives it an edge that it wouldn’t have had otherwise. It hits hard, and having it hit so hard makes for a more engaging track.