The Story Behind “Like Dreamers Do”: How the Song Scored a Hit for The Applejacks and a Record Deal for The Beatles

On January 1, 1962, The Beatles drove to Broadhurst Gardens, just a mile north of EMI Studios on Abbey Road, to audition for Decca Records. John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney plugged their guitars into the amps provided by the studio. Balance engineer Mike Savage informed the group the amps they lugged down from Liverpool weren’t good enough and told drummer Pete Best to set up the kit behind the isolation screens so his sound wouldn’t drown out the guitars and bass.

Videos by American Songwriter

Decca scheduled the session to begin at 10 a.m. Mike Smith, who was in charge of the session, had celebrated too much the night before and kept the band and their manager Brian Epstein waiting. They finally commenced in the late morning and continued into the afternoon, with a lunch break in the middle. They recorded 15 songs that day, consisting of tunes regularly performed at Liverpool’s Cavern Club. It’s worth noting they did not include any twist songs, as that was the latest craze. They did perform relatively current hits, including songs by Bobby Vee, Peggy Lee, and Dinah Washington. They also played several humorous rock songs by The Coasters and Joe Brown; represented their influences by adding songs by Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, and Buddy Holly; and included three tunes written by Lennon and McCartney.

Only two of these 15 songs would make it onto official Beatles albums in the future. None of the three originals would appear on a Beatles album until Anthology 1 in 1995. However, other artists placed all three originals on the British charts. Let’s take a look at the story behind one of those songs, “Like Dreamers Do” by The Applejacks.

I, I saw a girl in my dreams
And so it seems
That I will love her
Oh, you, you are that girl
In my dreams
And so it seems
That I will love you
And I waited for your kiss
Waited for the bliss
Like dreamers do

Write It Yourself

Paul McCartney wrote “Like Dreamers Do” in 1959. It was the first song The Beatles tackled on their Decca audition. They had performed the song when they were still known as The Quarrymen. One of the constant goals of Merseyside bands was to find material other bands didn’t know. One way was to write it yourself.

McCartney told author Barry Miles in Many Years from Now: “‘Like Dreamers Do’ was one of the very first songs I wrote and tried out at the Cavern. We did a weak arrangement, but certain of the kids liked it because it was unique. None of the other groups did it. It was actually a bit of a joke to try your own songs. They didn’t go down very well with Gerry and the Pacemakers and other groups. If they told us what they liked, it would be ‘What’d I Say’ or ‘Some Other Guy,’ or Little Richard stuff that I did. It was the more genuine s–t, not stuff you wrote yourself. For you to write it yourself was a bit plonky, and the songs obviously weren’t that great, but I felt we really had to break through that barrier because if we never tried our own songs.”

And I, I, I, I
Oh, I’ll be there, yeah
Waiting for you, you, you, you, you
You, you came just one dream ago
And now I know that I will love you
I knew when you first said hello
That’s how I know
That I will love you
And I, I, I waited for your kiss
Waited for the bliss
Like dreamers do

A Band from Birmingham

After The Beatles signed with Parlophone Records and broke out with the success of “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me,” other artists started to take notice of Lennon and McCartney songs. Cilla Black hit the Top 40 with “Love of the Loved,” and The Fourmost went Top 10 with “Hello Little Girl.”

The Applejacks were on Decca Records and took “Like Dreamers Do” into the Top 20. Shortly after their success, Decca and The Applejacks had a disagreement over which song to release. The label wanted the band to release “Chim Chim Chiree,” while the group was against it. Advertisements for the new release appeared in trade papers even though the band had not recorded the song. Some Applejacks discographies still erroneously list “Chim Chim Chiree” as a single. The band’s relationship with the label deteriorated quickly.

The Beatles never rerecorded “Like Dreamers Do.” Before Anthology 1, the only way to hear the Fab Four’s version was on underground releases. In 1980, John Lennon told author David Sheff in All We Are Saying: “That’s Paul. That was another one that he’d written as a teenager and sort of resurrected and polished up for later on. That’s on the audition tape that we sent Decca, which is around as a bootleg. “

And I, I, I, I
Oh, I’ll be there, yeah
Waiting for you, you, you, you, you
You, you came just one dream ago
And now I know that I will love you
Oh, I knew when you first said hello
That’s how I know
That I will love you
And I waited for your kiss
Waited for the bliss
Like dreamers do
Oh, like dreamers do
Like dreamers do

The Bee’s Knees

Brian Epstein made a 78 RPM acetate of “Like Dreamers Do” that made it to Sid Colman of Ardmore and Beechwood, EMI’s publishing arm. He played it for his advisor, Kim Bennett, who liked the song and asked what the group’s name was. Bennett was less impressed with the moniker but felt the song had money-making potential. Colman asked Epstein about possibly acquiring the publishing rights, but the manager informed him he was holding out for a recording deal. Colman reached out to EMI producer George Martin, who recounted the meeting with Epstein in his book All You Need Is Ears: “He gave me a big ‘hype’ about this marvelous group who were doing such great things in Liverpool. He told me how everybody up there thought they were the bee’s knees. He even expressed surprise that I hadn’t heard of them—which, in the circumstances, was pretty bold. … Then he played me the disc, and I first heard the sound of the Beatles.”

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Photo by John Pratt/Keystone Features/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

4 Great Collaborations Featuring Mavis Staples, Including Duets with Bob Dylan and Dolly Parton

The 5 Best British Rock Albums from 1994