The Beatles: Just Fun
As we wrote in our description of the upcoming BBC Lennon special hosted by Sean Lennon, Paul McCartney took up his guitar during their conversation and played a little snippet of the unreleased Lennon-McCartney composition “Just fun”. In the aftermath of this, there’s been a news story going around in the mainstream media, that Pauls is going to air a Beatles version of said song for John’s 80th. The song is described to feature John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Of course, we have been teased with snippets of “Just fun” ever since we got around 20 seconds of it in the “Let It Be” movie, back in 1970. Since then, Paul has been singing brief excerpts of it in various radio and TV programmes several times, usually just from the start and a couple of lines. We heard it in the first ever episode of the “South Bank Show” in January, 1978 and also in the 1999 “Big Breakfast Show“.
We said that our love was just fun
The day that our friendship begun
There’s no blue moon that I can see
There’s ever been in history
Because our love was just fun…
“Just fun” probably dates to late-1957, since it has been cited by McCartney as one of the very first Lennon-McCartney co-writes, and as such it sits alongside “Too Bad About Sorrows” (also briefly played in the same South Bank Show episode). There is no evidence of it before it cropped up in extremely fragmentary form during the Get Back sessions, where there are two references.
The first, recorded on January 6, has McCartney speaking in front of the camera, and he recalls writing it with Lennon while playing truant, and sings an impromptu rendition of the first verse. This version is the one that made it all the way to the “Let It Be” movie.
The other version from the January 1969 sessions starts with an extremely brief quotation by Lennon on January 8; after running aimlessly through the start of “Too Bad About Sorrows”, he sings a rough line from this track, “There’s no blue moon in history”, provoking a ripple of laughter from the others. This is then allowed to develop into a ragged group performance. This version of the song did not make it to the finished film, but circulates among collectors.
The longest version of it that we have been treated to so far, stems from the soundcheck before McCartney’s concert in Zürich, Switzerland on the night of June 2, 2004. McCartney can be heard strumming through the song on acoustic guitar. What is most intriguing is the appearance of a second verse, with different lyrics. This we have never heard before, during his brief renderings during interviews. However, the bootlegger who captured the soundcheck taped it from a distance, as he was located out side the Letzigrund Stadion, where the soundcheck was held before the audience was let in for the concert. Sadly the audio quality of the tape is so poor that we can’t tell what the words were.
It is interesting that the original lyric, written in 1957, when McCartney and Lennon had just started playing and writing together, begins, “They say that our love is just fun / the day that our friendship begun”. These lines sound like they could be self-referential, and if so they precede later McCartney numbers concerning his relationship with Lennon (“You Never Give Me Your Money”, “Two Of Us” etc).
So what about this new airing of a Beatles version McCartney is supposed to gift us with for Lennon’s 80th? If we are lucky, it will be one of those elusive Cavern Club rehearsal recordings that McCartney bought during early rock and roll memorabilia auctions in the eighties. But most likely is that the mainstream media hasn’t been paying attention, and that what we get is what we wrote: McCartneys brief rendering. If the BBC are clever enough, this will segue into the “Let It Be” performance.