One and One Is Two
One and One Is Two is a single release by an obscure pop group called "The Strangers with Mike Shannon." It was composed by Paul McCartney during the Beatles' Paris tour in late January and early February of 1964. In 1980, Lennon denied any involvement with the song, saying it was another one of Paul's "bad attempts" at songwriting. It is considered the worst song Paul McCartney ever wrote.
In early 1964 the recording world had put a lot of pressure on Paul and John to come up with as many new songs as possible. EMI (Parlophone) wanted to release several albums quickly, to satisfy the insatiable demands of "Beatlemania." In spite of the hurry, this eminently forgettable number did not make the cut. It was a boring and lifeless Merseybeat song with little or no spark of innovation in the music and lyrics. It had been "cranked out" in response to the pressure from EMI.
Perhaps at the urging of partner John Lennon and producer George Martin, Paul "gave away" the song. He offered it first to Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, another Liverpool group represented by Brian Epstein and signed to Parlophone. They had performed several Lennon-McCartney songs previously. Wisely, they turned this one down. It was then offered to "The Fourmost," a second Merseybeat group under management by Epstein. They gave it a try in the studio, and Paul even played bass with them in the recording however, Brian O'Hara (the group's lead singer and lead guitarist) had to give up on it, saying they could not take the song anywhere interesting.
After these two rejections the song was offered to a little-known South African group named "The Strangers with Mike Shannon." They recorded the song, and it was released in May of 1964. It did not chart in the UK or the US -- probably the only Lennon-McCartney song to flop during this period when their compositions were in such high demand.
Around the time when the Beatles decided to "pass" on One and One Is Two, Paul recorded a demo to give an idea of what it sounded like. Bootlegs of this demo are in circulation. The version recorded by The Strangers with Mike Shannon is on the 1979 EMI compilation album, The Songs Lennon and McCartney Gave Away.