Please Please Me: Rock's Top 10 Greatest Double Entendres
Almost half a century ago this month, the Beatles released their first U.S. single, "Please Please Me." Though a fine example of the group's early pop sound, it wasn't an immediate smash in the States. After being issued in England on the EMI-owned Parlophone label on Jan. 12, 1963, Capitol Records, EMI's U.S. label, rejected it. Atlantic passed, too.
We were into 'em back when they were called the "Beattles."
A minor, Chicago-based label named Vee Jay finally released "Please Please Me" stateside on Feb. 25, 1963. The band's name was misspelled on the single's first pressing, and the song was a flop. It would be nearly a year until "Please Please Me" became a hit when it was re-released in the wake of the Beatles' appearance on the Jack Paar Show. Soon, Beatlemania would be in full swing.
"Please Please Me" wasn't only notable for being the Fab Four's first American single, however. It was also the group's first recorded usage of a double entendre in a song title. Using double meanings to inject a bit of sexy sleaze into songs was a common practice in the early R&B tunes that heavily influenced the Beatles during this period, and Lennon and McCartney would become masters in their own right with songs like "Honey Pie," "Drive My Car" and (ick) "Come Together."
The Beatles were nothing if not trend setters. Double-entendres, both obvious and oblique, have littered rock and roll titles for going on five decades now. Here are 10 of our favorite examples.
10. "Pass the Dutchie," Musical Youth: Musical Youth claimed that the lyrics in this hit from 1982 referred to a cooking vessel (presumably a Dutch oven) in the Caribbean, but it's pretty safe to assume that nobody listening to it was thinking about cooking. Baking, maybe. Whatever the group really meant, the instructional lyrics certainly haven't stopped Rastafarian wannabes from fucking up the rotation for the past 30 years.
9. "Big Balls," AC/DC: Few bands in rock history have taken more delight in thinly veiled sexual references than Australia's AC/DC, and "Big Balls" is perhaps their thinnest (and best). The always-shy Bon Scott was practically chortling with glee as he recorded lyrics like, "My balls are always bouncing, to the left and to the right/It's my belief that my big balls should be held every night." As juvenile as they come, the song would be truly embarrassing if it wasn't so much fun to sing along to.
8. "Puff the Magic Dragon," Peter, Paul and Mary Folk superstars Peter, Paul and Mary always maintained that this whimsical classic contained no drug references whatsoever, but come on. Maybe the lyrics do refer to a dragon rather than "draggin,'" and we suppose it could be merely coincidental that Puff's constant companion is named Paper. But without the imagined allusions to chiefin' trees, this song is just sort of... lame.