On April 19, 1965, The Beatles released “Ticket To Ride” on Capitol Records in the US.
(Keep reading to find out more about this classic rock tune. Or jump down to see more rock n roll milestones that took place on April 19.)
Written by John Lennon, with contributions from Paul McCartney, “Ticket To Ride” was the band’s first single of 1965. It turned out to be one of their most successful songs, reaching #1 on both the UK and US charts. This made “Ticket To Ride” their 7th consecutive #1 hit in the UK and 3rd in the US. It was also the first of their songs to last more than 3 minutes.
Ticket To Ride / Yes It Is single sleeve – Sweden, 1965 pic.twitter.com/uqtMZu2BHU— The Beatles (@thebeatles) December 5, 2019
Dick James, the band’s music publisher, recalls the first time Lennon mentioned the song. Lennon said to him, “There’s a title I’ve got in mind which I can’t get rid of — ‘She’s Got a Ticket to Ride.” James encouraged Lennon to keep working on it.
Later, Lennon would describe the song as “one of the earliest heavy-metal records made.”
“‘Ticket To Ride’ was slightly a new sound at the time. It was pretty f*cking heavy for then, if you go and look in the charts for what other music people were making. You hear it now and it doesn’t sound too bad; but it’d make me cringe. If you give me the A track and I remix it, I’ll show you what it is really, but you can hear it there. It’s a heavy record and the drums are heavy too. That’s why I like it.”
The Stories Behind “Ticket To Ride” By The Beatles
Included in the 1965 album Help!, the song is about a girl leaving her lover, told from the perspective of the narrator. The protagonist of the song is left feeling confused and hurt, unable to understand why his love has left him. The lyrics convey a sense of sadness and longing, with lines like “I think I’m gonna be sad, I think it’s today, yeah” and “My baby don’t care, my baby don’t care”.
While the story within the lyrics may be much clearer than in other Beatles tunes, the inspiration for the song’s title has never really been clear.
Traveling To Ride
McCartney once explained that the title was a play on traveling to the town of Ryde. The band was familiar with the journey, having spent time there with McCartney’s cousin who ran a pub in Ryde with her husband.
“John and I always liked wordplay. So, the phrase ‘She’s got a ticket to ride’ of course referred to riding on a bus or train, but – if you really want to know – it also referred to Ryde on the Isle of Wight, where my cousin Betty and her husband Mike were running a pub. That’s what they did; they ran pubs. He ended up as an entertainment manager at a Butlin’s holiday resort. Betty and Mike were very showbiz.
It was great fun to visit them, so John and I hitchhiked down to Ryde, and when we wrote the song we were referring to the memory of this trip. It’s very cute now to think of me and John in a little single bed, top and tail, and Betty and Mike coming to tuck us in.”— Paul McCartney, The Lyrics: 1965 to the Present by Paul McCartney
Prostitutes In Germany
Don Short, was a journalist who spent time with The Beatles more than a few times. He once shared that the origin of the song dated back to the band’s beginnings. In the early days, The Beatles spent a lot of time in the nightclubs of Hamburg, Germany. Here, prostitutes were legal but had to have a permit to practice their trade. With “ride” being a common term for sex in Britain, Short speculated that the meaning of the title was much cruder.
“The girls who worked the streets in Hamburg had to have a clean bill of health and so the medical authorities would give them a card saying that they didn’t have a dose of anything.
I was with The Beatles when they went back to Hamburg in June 1966 and it was then that John told me that he had coined the phrase ‘a ticket to ride’ to describe these cards. He could have been joking – you always had to be careful with John like that – but I certainly remember him telling me that.”— Don Short, A Hard’s Days Write by Steve Turner
Influencing Rock History
Musically, “Ticket To Ride” is notable for steering away from The Beatles’ usual sound with techniques that were unfamiliar at the time. This included unique drum patterns, downbeat lyrics, and hypnotic chimes. The droning guitar riff, played by George Harrison, is also one of the most recognizable in rock history and has been cited as an influence for many guitarists over the years. But the brief guitar solo heard in the song was played by McCartney.
The Beatles were always experimenting with their sound, and “Ticket To Ride” was no exception. They were trying to move away from their earlier pop-oriented style and incorporate more complex arrangements and instrumentation.
50 years later, “Ticket To Ride” continues to be a testament to The Beatles’ musical talent and their enduring influence on rock music.
If you haven’t heard it in a while, go give it a listen!
Other Notable Rock Events From April 19
Rock n roll is full of historical moments. Here are just a few of the events that happened on April 19:
1968 – Pink Floyd released their fourth UK single “It Would Be So Nice.”
1969 – The Beach Boys’ cover of “I Can Hear Music” peaks at #24 on the Hot 100.
1969 – Queen played at Revolution Club in London, England under their original band name — Smile.
1969 – Ten Years After played at the Rock Pile in Toronto.
1975 – The Raspberries call it quits.
1978 – Patti Smith releases “Because The Night” co-written with Bruce Springsteen.
1980 – R.E.M. played their first gig as R.E.M. The show at 11:11 Koffee Club in Athens, Georgia was forced to end when the venue wasn’t licensed.
1980 – Brian Johnson joined AC/DC following Bon Scott’s death.
1982 – Simon & Garfunkel reunite for a European tour only to split up again before it’s complete.
1995 – Levon Helm (drummer for The Band) died at 71 as a result of throat cancer.
2002 – Layne Staley, the lead singer for Alice In Chains, is discovered dead in his apartment. He had passed away on April 5 from a drug overdose.
2010 – The Catholic Church forgives John Lennon for The Beatles’ comments about being “bigger than Jesus.”
2012 – Greg Ham who was a multi-instrumentalist for Men At Work died of a heart attack in his Melbourne home at 58.
2021 – Jim Steinman who wrote songs like Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” died at 73 due to kidney failure.
Here are just some of the notable rock musicians that were born on April 19:
1942 – Alan Price of The Animals (keyboard)
1942 – Larry Ramos of The Association (guitar)
1957 – Tony Martin of Black Sabbath (vocals)
1962 – Rod Morgenstein of Winger (drums)
On This Day In History – April 19
While April 19 may not have the same level of notoriety as other dates in rock history, it’s still a day worth commemorating for the influential moments it has produced. These moments are a reminder of the ever-evolving nature of rock music and how it continues to captivate and inspire fans all around the world.
As we look forward to what the future of rock has in store, let’s not forget the important milestones that have led us to where we are today.