Ringo Starr wrote exactly two songs while with The Beatles. One is “Octopus’s Garden” from Abbey Road. The other is this week’s Beatles Song of the Week. It’s “Don’t Pass Me By” from The Beatles (aka The White Album).
Ringo had actually written this song (at least) five years earlier. How do we know this? The Beatles themselves make reference to it in a 1963 interview which can be heard on the brilliant 1994 Live at the BBC collection. During the interview The Beatles are asked about their songwriting habits and Ringo mentions that he has a great song that the group doesn’t seem to want to record. Paul laughs it off and starts to sing “Don’t pass me by, don’t make me cry, don’t make me blue.” But it was not recorded until June, 1968 (under the working title “This Is Some Friendly”).
The song itself is a simple blues number with a loping beat. But it’s oh, so catchy. Ringo recorded the vocal at a slightly slower tape speed which, when played back at the normal setting sped up his vocals just a bit (for more on The Beatles use of this technique see our previous post on VariSpeed. The violin is played by Jack Fallon. This is notable because in addition to being a professional musician Jack Fallon was the man who booked The Beatles first big-time professional gig in England in 1962.
The version we have for you tonight is a rarity as it contains the nearly finished version recorded on June 6. But it also contains a few minutes of sound effects, compiled by Ringo. It is worth noting that John began recording “Revolution 9” on the same day this was recorded, so this may have been Ringo’s response! Paul may have kidded Ringo about this song in 1963, but Ringo got the last laugh. The song was a smash hit in Scandinavia. Take that, Paul.