Happy 50th Birthday, ‘Love Me Do’
Clearly there was something in the water on the 5th of October 1962, not one but two globeshaking British cultural institutions, the kind of worldwide brands that came to define how the nation was perceived from the outside and the inside, both launched on the same day.
So, while the rest of Anglophenia is rightly going berzerk for all things 007, can we just pause a moment to tip our hats for “Love Me Do,” the unassuming, quietly charming first single for the Beatles? It wasn’t the song that made their name in the UK, that was “Please Please Me;” It wasn’t the song that made their name in the US, that was “I Want To Hold Your Hand;” and it isn’t the song most people reach for first when they’re compiling Beatle playlists. But it’s the song that lit the blue touchpaper on British pop music as an international force, and whether you personally like the Beatles or not, some of your favorite songs of all time would not have been possible, had this record never been released.
Some of them still would, of course. But not as many as you’d like to think.
PS: Jon Savage at the Guardian has written a fairly definitive appreciation of “Love Me Do” as a song in the context of its time. Have a read!