Dec 04

THE BEATLES – “Can’t Buy Me Love”

Popular20 comments • 3,929 views

#166, 4th April 1964

“I don’t care too much for money”, they sing sweetly as they conquer the world. By accident or design, this feels like a slight nod backwards for The Beatles – a solid, skiffley strumalong married to some earthy good sense (was “money can’t buy me love” even a saying before they said it?). The song takes off halfway through with a satisfyingly jangling solo and the band performance is as impressive as ever but this is still the least thrilling of their early hits.



  1. 1
    SteveIson on 22 Jul 2008 #

    Easily weakest of all their #1s(with the exception maybe of Ballad Of John and Yoko)

  2. 2
    DJ Punctum on 22 Jul 2008 #


  3. 3
    rosie on 22 Jul 2008 #

    That was mean, Marcello! And you know it…

    The point is, at the time nobody knew how the Beatles were going to develop. In the context of what was around it, and not all of it was at all bad, CBML stood out from the crowd. So, for that matter, did Love Me Do, which we aren’t dealing with here: I know I was only eight when I first heard it but I was already an enthusiastic listener to Luxy (under the bedclothes, as you did) but Love Me Do stood out instantly when I first heard it.

  4. 4
    DJ Punctum on 22 Jul 2008 #

    Pete Murray reviewed it in MM at the time and said it wasn’t very tuneful and that it was a shame that Lennon and McCartney were giving away their best songs to artists like Peter and Gordon.

    They didn’t know then and they still don’t know now.

  5. 5
    Matthew on 12 Jan 2009 #

    The Beatles had the stupidest *band name* out of all this Merseysound crop. Just as well the songs were something special to rise above that devastating handicap.

  6. 6
    wichita lineman on 12 Jan 2009 #

    Erkey Grant and The Earwigs gave them a run for their money.

    Dunno if “money can’t buy you love” was in common parlance before this, but “grotty” didn’t exist before the Hard Day’s Night film.

  7. 7
    Pete Baran on 12 Jan 2009 #

    And here’s me thinking that fun is the one thing that money can’t buy.

    Getting to “play” with my parents 45’s on an old dansette as a child, my sister used to scare me with Can’t Buy me Love, as apparently the very young me was a tad unsettled by the way the vocals just come in, so loudly.

  8. 8
    Billy Smart on 12 Feb 2009 #

    TOTPWatch: The Beatles performed ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ (and ‘You Can’t Do That’) in a specially pre-recorded studio sequence transmitted on the edition of 25th March 1964. In the Machester studio that week were; Pter & Gordon, The Applejacks and The Bachelors. Jimmy Saville was the host. No copy survives.

  9. 9
    crag on 13 Apr 2011 #


    Ivy Benson, Bandleader (1971)

    Sebastian Faulks, Novelist (2009).

  10. 10
    hectorthebat on 19 Mar 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Blender (USA) – Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own (2003)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 100 Greatest Beatles Songs (2010) 29
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 289
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 295
    Stephen Spignesi and Michael Lewis (USA) – The 100 Best Beatles Songs (2004) 78
    BBC (UK) – Pop on Trial, Top 50 Songs from the 1960s (2008)
    Mojo (UK) – The 101 Greatest Tracks by The Beatles (2006) 18
    Paul Morley (UK) – Words and Music, 210 Greatest Pop Singles of All Time (2003)
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Toby Creswell (Australia) – 1001 Songs (2005)

  11. 11
    mapman132 on 6 Apr 2014 #

    Thought I’d mark the 50th anniversary of perhaps the greatest feat in Billboard Hot 100 history: the Beatles holding all of the top five positions simultaneously. The records in question were: 1) Can’t Buy Me Love, 2) Twist And Shout, 3) She Loves You, 4) I Want To Hold Your Hand, and 5) Please Please Me. CBML also jumped 27-1 that week, establishing a record that wouldn’t be broken until well into the Soundscan era. I’ve always thought the Top 5 monopoly is unlikely to ever be matched. Until the digital era, I actually thought it impossible – it’s still very, very unlikely and would pretty much require an extremely popular artist releasing 5 songs simultaneously that weren’t available grouped as an album. And they would still need the cooperation of radio to get the airplay component (although perhaps not with streaming now included, but that would still require a LOT of Youtube hits). Another route would be as a “featured” artist on multiple songs, but that would be somewhat cheating, and would still be extremely difficult anyhow.

  12. 12
    Erithian on 18 May 2014 #

    The Bee Gees almost kind-of matched it in March ’78, being 1 and 2 on Billboard with “Night Fever” and “Stayin’ Alive”, and writers/producers on Samantha Sang’s “Emotion” at 3 and brother Andy’s “Love Is Thicker Than Water” at 5 (only Eric Clapton getting in their way). And they wrote “If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman which was the next #1. Barry Gibb co-wrote five out of six US number ones from Dec 77-May 78.

  13. 13
    lonepilgrim on 17 Mar 2015 #

    Is this the first Beatles number 1 with a McCartney lead vocal? The lyrics have a McCartneyesque generosity of spirit combined with a tendency to airy platitudes which suggest he had more of a hand in writing it. Rhythmically and sonically it has more of a rockabilly feel to it than some of their earlier hits.

  14. 14
    Tommy Mack on 18 Mar 2015 #

    First solo Macca lead? I think their ’63 hits are mainly dual John/Paul lead with Lennon taking the odd solo bit in mid-8s etc?

    Don’t know if anyone’s mentioned it before but I watched Good Ol’ Freda last night (it’s on Netflix) – about Beatles’ fanclub secretary Freda Kelly: remarkable story of a remarkable, unassuming woman perhaps uniquely positioned to empathise both with both Beatles fans and the Beatles themselves. What’s incredible is how she managed to allow the fans a sense of intimacy (getting the boys to give her old shirts, sheets etc to cut up and post to fans) while fiercely protective of the band’s personal privacy, all in an age when social media meant pen pals. Since the role of fans and their (our!) relationship to music and musicians regularly comes up in FT discussion, I’d recommend it to anyone remotely interested.


  15. 15
    chrisew71 on 29 Mar 2018 #

    Works better in the film than on its own. In the movie, it comes at a moment when they need to bust out and act up, and it’s exhilarating. As a song, though, we get the first Beatles song that older entertainers like Ella Fitzgerald feel comfortable singing.

  16. 16
    Paulito on 9 Apr 2018 #

    Have to agree that this is the weakest of their early run of singles (with the possible exception of ‘Love Me Do’, but the latter is more interesting in that it has curio value and a certain naïve charm). Not for the last time in their career, the “less commercial” B-side (‘You Can’t Do That’) is the better track.

    Of course, this being the Beatles, it’s all relative and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ is still superior to what most of what their contemporaries were producing at the time.

  17. 17
    Barry on 17 Apr 2018 #

    Sick burn by the pretentious Marcello! I quite like the song though, childlike quality to it that is rather endearing.

  18. 18
    Gareth Parker on 8 Jun 2021 #

    (#2) It’s insightful because he’s right you fucking cunt. 4/10 for the Fabs here.

  19. 19
    mapman132 on 13 Sep 2021 #

    What I once thought impossible eventually became inevitable in the age of streaming. Yes, BUNNY has matched the Beatles, actually going four better with 9 of the top 10.

    But, I still won’t anger the spoiler bunny by using BUNNY’s name…..

  20. 20
    Gareth Parker on 13 Sep 2021 #

    I would still agree with Tom here and say this is the least interesting of the Beatles’ early hits. Always good to know what is happening in the US Billboard top 100, so thanks Mapman132 (#19). Said artist has 3 of the top 5 in the UK currently. Might be more entries in our top 10 next week?

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