“Ticket to Ride” was lucky number eight for the Beatles. Their eighth number one in the United States. As for so many others, John Lennon wrote “Ticket to Ride.” He wrote it just before the group left England to travel to the Bahamas to film the movie Help!. And, naturally, the song was used in the movie and appeared on the soundtrack for the movie. It was also released as a single a good three months before the movie came out.
“Ticket to Ride” was the first single by the Beatles to feature Paul McCartney on lead guitar. That was usually handled by George Harrison. What exactly does the song mean? That has been the topic of discussion since 1965 and it has not it’s been resolved to this day.
On the face of it, it would seem to be about a girl who is trying to get away from a relationship and is leaving her lover and she just doesn’t care. However, Paul says the song refers to a woman who has a British Railways ticket to the city of Ryde which is on the Isle of Wight. John says it refers to a card which was carried by German prostitutes in the early Sixties. The Beatles played Hamburg, Germany when they were first starting out and a “ride” was slang for having sex. The ticket was a card which gave the prostitutes a clean bill of health, so one wouldn’t have to worry about catching anything when they had sex. Along those same lines, another source maintains that the song is about a woman who is leaving her guy in order to become a prostitute. Whatever version you believe, it was a great song by the Fab Four.
This signaled a new phase of music from the Beatles. They were big enough and rich enough that they could record like the big timers did. “Ticket to Ride” was the first song that the Beatles used over dubbing. They dubbed the vocals and the lead guitar over the basic instrumentals to create the song. They were getting more sophisticated in their music making.
It was while “Ticket to Ride” was on the charts that the Beatles were awarded the MBE by the Queen. The MBE is the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and is awarded for excellence in the arts and entertainment. The guys thought it was ludicrous, but they went to Buckingham Palace, met the Queen and received their awards, all the while trying not to laugh out loud. Other winners of the award were so offended that some returned their award to the government. But, whether you agree they should get it or not, the Beatles did a great deal for entertainment in Britain.
“Ticket to Ride” entered the American pop charts on May 1, 1965 and spent one week at number one. It was the first of four number ones in succession.