Image: bronze sculpture of The Beatles, by Andy Edwards, at Pier Head, Liverpool.
“(Paul) McCartney wrote the song when he was 16. When he moved into the London home of his then-girlfriend Jane Asher in 1963, sharing a room with her brother Peter Asher, Asher asked him if he could use the song after Asher and Gordon Waller had signed a recording contract as Peter and Gordon. McCartney described John Lennon’s reaction to the song: “The funny first line always used to please John. ‘Please lock me away –’ ‘Yes, okay.’ End of song.” Lennon said of the song that “I think that was resurrected from the past. … I think he had that whole song before the Beatles. … That has the line ‘Please lock me away’ that we always used to crack up at.”
McCartney did not think the song was good enough for The Beatles. As such, the song was never released by the Beatles, and the only known recording of the song by any member of the Beatles is the original demo of the song performed by McCartney, which is now in the possession of Peter Asher. As of January 2013, Paul McCartney’s demo has been leaked on YouTube. It is 30 seconds in length, but offers a rare glimpse into the song’s origins. The clip was played at Asher’s most recent string of concerts.
It is one of two songs written by Lennon–McCartney to reach number one in the US by an artist other than the Beatles. The other is “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” (which was famously recorded by the Beatles but not released as a single), covered by Elton John in 1974. “Bad to Me”, written by Lennon and McCartney in 1963, was given to Billy J. Kramer and reached number 1 in the UK, but it failed to do so in the US.
Before giving the song to Peter and Gordon, McCartney offered “A World Without Love” to Kramer, who rejected it. The song was one of the seven number 1s written by Lennon-McCartney that charted in the US in 1964, an all-time songwriting record for most songs to top the US charts in a calendar year.
The lead guitarist on this recording is studio musician Vic Flick who also played the guitar lick for the James Bond Theme. “A World Without Love” is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.”