John Lennon from The Playboy Interviews, p.143, 1980 –
“‘Please Me’ is my song totally. It was my attempt at writing a Roy Orbison song, would you believe it? I wrote it in the bedroom in my house at Menlove Avenue, which was my auntie’s place. I remember the day and the pink eyelet on the bed and I heard Roy Orbison doing “Only The Lonely” or something. That’s where that came from. And also I was always intrigued by the words of [sings] ‘Please Lend Your Ears To My Pleas,’ a Bing Crosby song. I was always intrigued by the double use of the word ‘please.’ So it was a combination of Bing Crosby and Roy Orbison.” — John Lennon
Paul McCartney also discusses John Lennon writing ‘Please Please Me’ in the 8 part Beatles documentary “The Beatles Anthology” in part 1.
McCartney references the pre-chorus part “Come on (c’mon) Come on (c’mon) Come on (c’mon) Come on (c’mon) , Please please me, whoa yeah, like I please you” as an “Orbison-y” part.
I have listened for that specifically and did not find it in “Only The Lonely”. (Although John obviously loved that song too because he attempted it all those years later.) I did find a similar part in a Roy Orbison song ( from about the same time as “Only The Lonely”) called “I’m Hurtin'”. In the pre-chorus lines – “You walked away (boom,boom,boom,boom) The pain began (boom,boom,boom,boom) I knew I’d never (boom,boom,boom,boom) Love again…”. Where Roy used a four beat accent, John used a two beat accent.
There are other similarities with “I’m Hurtin'” but also with “Only The Lonely”, so I still believe John is correct that it was “Only The Lonely” that he used.
George Martin told me that he said to John “There’s already one Roy Orbison, we need to make this song different.” So they speed up the song “Please Please Me”.
George Martin also said “Help” was another one where John Lennon had written an Orbison-like song that was a very slow ballad and they increased the tempo when recording it in the studio.
Just so you understand, I love The Beatles personally. I do this out of love and respect. There are many different connections between: Roy Orbison and George Harrison and the Traveling Wilburys, Roy Orbison and Barbara Orbison and Ringo Starr, Roy and Paul McCartney, that even Beatles fans don’t know.
Check my website RoyOrbisonJr.com for blogs and podcasts in the future if you are interested in this type of stuff. I’ll be explaining how “Love Me Do” is The Beatles re-writing Roy Orbison’s “Candy Man” and the riff for “DayTripper” is actually John juggling the notes of “Oh Pretty Woman”.
And my first kiss, Mary McCartney, but that’s a completely different story…