An awful lot of comedy records have got to number one. Not many funny records have. This is one of them, as with every line the dreadfulness of this slush pile nightmare is more obvious. “It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few / I’ll be writing more in a week or two / I can make it longer if you like the style”: the band’s chirpy, wide-eyed delivery has a sitcom writer’s cruelty, and at 2’20” the record doesn’t kill the laughs by outstaying its welcome.
You could extend the metaphor to creativity in general, and the Beatles’ experience of their own imitators may have lent an edge to their cynicism, but I prefer “Paperback Writer” simply as a sharp, light jab. There’s a sneer in the harmonies and a briskness in the bassline that makes “Paperback Writer” feel almost throwaway – meta-hackwork, if you like – but it’s so vigorous and venomous, and pretty too, that it’s one of my very favourite Beatles songs.