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"Ask Me Why"

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Previously released as the B-side of the "Please Please Me" single, "Ask Me Why" is — for me — the strongest self-penned ballad on the PPM LP.

Everyone knows that the old 'Lennon the toughie, McCartney the soppy one' thing was never anything more than a daft over-generalisation, and this is an early flash of John's soft under-belly. It's also another great example of the group's rejection of limiting themselves to a straightforward rock 'n' roll/rhythm 'n' blues sound. The soul-styled structure here makes it a complex little composition, with slick changes of key and rhythm. Smokie meets the Everlys, perhaps: The Beatles drawing on their different influences to come up with something just a little different.

As it was 'only a B-side', George Martin had considered it safe enough to let Ringo provide the stickwork, and he obliged with a neatly restrained performance. The guitars actually carry the rhythm most of the time:

I can't conceive
Of any more


That last little word set 'em up nicely for a slightly later co-write, too...

Paul and George serve up some of the best backing vocals on the album: sweet and sensitive, but never too sickly. Nevertheless, it's John's lead which takes first prize, "And it really only goes to show" just how much emotion he was capable of pouring into a song, right from the very beginning.

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