The Beatles song Paul McCartney admitted was “a bit of filler”

The Beatles didn’t exactly have the luxury of vetting their songs. During the height of Beatlemania, each new day came with something else to do. If it wasn’t live shows, it was promotional appearances. If it wasn’t studio sessions, it was photography shoots. If it wasn’t filming for movies, it was filming for TV. It was a nonstop rollercoaster ride for the Fab Four, and the need for new material was always pressing down on them.

Even on their off days, Paul McCartney felt the need to continue writing songs. He famously wrote ‘Things We Said Today’ while on a boat trip in the Virgin Islands. It was while waking up from a deep sleep that he first composed ‘Yesterday’. McCartney was always in the zone to write, so when The Beatles had a day off in Atlantic City, New Jersey, McCartney cranked out an album track from Beatles For Sale, ‘What You’re Doing’.

“We wrote this one in Atlantic City like ‘Every Little Thing’. It’s not that Atlantic City is particularly inspiring, it’s just that we happened to have a day off the tour there,” McCartney told Disc Magazine in 1964. “Ringo does a nice bit of drumming decoration in the introduction, and I double-track on the vocal as well as playing some piano.”

Featuring a shuffling drum intro from Ringo Starr and some overdubbed piano from McCartney himself, ‘What You’re Doing’ was good enough to throw on the back end of Beatles For Sale. By that point, The Beatles were combating exhaustion and burnout. ‘What You’re Doing’ was simply there to fill up space, something that McCartney later copped to.

“What You’re Doing’ was a bit of a filler,” McCartney claimed in the book Many Years From Now. “I think it was a little more mine than John’s, but I don’t have a very clear recollection so to be on the safe side I’d put it as 50-50.”

“It doesn’t sound like an idea that I remember John offering, so it sounds like a way to get a song started, some of them are just that. ‘Hey, what’cha doing?’ You sometimes start a song and hope the best bit will arrive by the time you get to the chorus… but sometimes that’s all you get, and I suspect this was one of them,” McCartney added. “Maybe it’s a better recording than it is a song, some of them are. Sometimes a good recording would enhance the song.”

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