"In Spite of All the Danger" was the first original composition ever recorded by The Quarry Men (who, of course, eventually evolved into the Beatles). The song was recorded on 12 July 1958 as the B-side to their cover of Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day". Although credited Lennon/Harrison (and, in fact, the only song ever to be so credited), Paul claims to be the primary song writer. "It says on the label that it was me and George but I think it was actually written by me and George played the guitar solo! ... [B]ecause George played the solo we figured that he 'wrote the solo. That wouldn't be the case now" (Lewisohn, page 6). And on the compositional influences, Paul continued: "It's very similar to an Elvis song ... but I'm a bit loathe to say which!" (Lewisohn, page 7). The Elvis song in question is likely "Trying to Get to You", which employs nearly identical chords progressions, a nearly identical formal design, and shares lyrical similarities.
Despite being in different keys ("Trying to Get to You" is in F major, "In Spite of All the Danger" is in E major), both tunes use the same three primary chords: I, IV, and V.
The Presley does not use an introduction, where the McCartney does; and the Presley, being at a faster tempo, adds an extra middle 8 and verse at the end, whereas the McCartney, being slower, does not need the addition; and the Presley solo is only 8 measures long, where the McCartney solo is 12; but everything else matches up perfectly: Both songs are a classic AABA beginning followed by a solo and another A section.
Lastly, the third verse of "Trying to Get to You" uses the lyrics "I just had to reach you baby, spite of all that I've been through", which bears obvious similarities to "In Spite of All the Danger". How many other pop songs from the fifties use the word "spite"?
Lewisohn, Mark. The Beatles Recording Sessions. Harmony Books, New York, NY, 1988.
This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.