Mendips Mendips

 

  1. Hello Little Girl
  2. I Call Your Name
  3. The One After 909
  4. What Goes On?
  5. Too Bad About Sorrows
  6. Just Fun
  7. Wake Up In The Morning
  8. Thinking Of Linking
  9. Fancy Me Chances
  10. Ask Me Why
  11. Please Please Me
  12. There's A Place
  13. Misery
  14. Do You Want To Know A Secret?
  15. Love Me Do

Early Lennon/McCartney

Mendips

John Lennon wrote his first song at 251 Menlove Avenue, in a house called Mendips.

Mendips was a "nice semi-detached place with a small garden and doctors and lawyers and that ilk living around," Lennon has said. "I was a nice, clean-cut suburban boy, and in the class system I was about a half an inch in a higher class than Paul, George and Ringo, who lived in subsidized government houses. We owned our own house, had our own garden. They didn't have anything like that. So, I was a bit of a fruit compared to them in a way."

Although a natural writer and a gifted cartoonist - a creative, active mind - writing songs doesn't seem to have occurred to Lennon before he met Paul McCartney. The latter, by then, had already written I Lost My Little Girl (his first song), as well as Like Dreamers Do, an instrumental called Hot As Sun, World Without Love - a whole lot. Lennon: "He had quite a lot of material already... he was already more of a songwriter than me when we met. [...] He had a lot of stuff." Suitably impressed, it didn't take long before Lennon tried his own hand at songwriting.

We don't know what his first song was. Lennon claimed it to be Hello Little Girl, then again, he thought he had written Two Of Us. We do know, however, that I Call Your Name, The One After 909 and Hello Little Girl were among the first batch to be written, somewhere around 1957. Shortly afterwards, when the two composers combined powers, the songs came thick and fast; often, in these early days, they'd boast to have written about 100 songs (in truth, the number must be closer to 20 - still an impressive number). Most of their early efforts (appropriately, they were written down in an exercise book) seem to be lost forever. What has survived of this mythical shadow songbook, are fragments, titles, memories.

While connoisseurs of bootlegs will have heard Too Bad About Sorrows and Just Fun, and two others (I Fancy Me Chances, Wake Up In The Morning ) could briefly be heard in the heavily edited "fly-on-the-wall" disc that came with Let It Be... Naked, we can only guess at how Keep Looking That Way, Years Roll Along, You're In My Little Book and That's My Woman must have sounded. People who have seen the Anthology DVDs will be familiar with Thinking Of Linking, perhaps, but what about If Tomorrow Ever Comes, Won't You Please Say Goodbye, Pinwheel Twist and the instrumental Looking Glass, probably inspired by Lewis Carroll, so probably written by Lennon? They must all float somewhere in the mists above the river Mersey.

Come 1963, the year of Please Please Me, Lennon had obviously made progress: by a narrow margin, most of the songs on it were his. (This might also have something to do with Lennon aiming to solidify his threatened leadership in the band). Not counting Misery, perhaps a 60/40 collaboration, and Love Me Do, he delivered four songs: There's A Place, Please Please Me, Do You Want To Know A Secret?, and Ask Me Why. McCartney, despite his head-start, only supplied I Saw Her Standing There and PS I Love You, withholding, among many others, I'll Follow The Sun, Hold Me Tight and When I'm Sixty-Four. Within a year, Lennon had moved out of Mendips and into the world.

Presented here are Lennon's first songs, with a few foetal Lennon/McCartney (or more accurately: McCartney/Lennon) fragments thrown in to give you a sense of their context.

© 2005 Jeroen Dekker. Don't use without prior written permission. The beautiful photograph at the top of this article was made by Mike McCartney.