The Beatles were often their own harshest critics. John Lennon was the worst of them, taking quite a bit of glee in slamming his own songs once the band were broken up. There’s the time he called ‘It’s Only Love’ “abysmal”, when he called ‘Sun King’ “a piece of garbage”, and claimed that ‘Run For Your Life’ was his “least favourite Beatles song”. Lennon even widened the pool to criticise some of Paul McCartney’s songs, specifically the infamous remark that ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ was “granny shit”.
The other Beatles weren’t immune to self-criticism either. George Harrison claimed that his sole contribution to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, ‘Within You Without You’, was “a bit dopey” in retrospect. McCartney had special scorn saved for the entirety of Let It Be, mostly because Phil Spector’s lush overdubs flew in the face of the original Get Back concept that McCartney had originally envisioned.
But when it came to individual songs, McCartney was generally pretty generous. McCartney claimed that any song to appear on a Beatles album had to at least pass the group’s high standard for recorded output, and claims not to be ashamed of anything the band put out. There are songs, like ‘If You’ve Got Trouble’ and ‘Carnival of Light’, that just didn’t cut the mustard. Even when McCartney was critical, he measured his scorn somewhat.
Such is the case with ‘Tell Me What You See’, the cut that sits in the middle of side two from the band’s fifth studio album Help!: “I seem to remember it as mine,” McCartney told Barry Miles in 1997. “I would claim it as a 60-40 but it might have been totally me. Not awfully memorable. Not one of the better songs but they did a job, they were very handy for albums or B-sides. You need those kind of sides”.
The truth was that The Beatles were required to put out two albums and multiple singles a year. Unless a song was truly dreadful, it was useful to have them around simply to fill up space and fulfil their requirements. The band were usually good at punching up less memorable material with atypical instrumentation or new production techniques, but ‘Tell Me What You See’ definitely isn’t going to top anyone’s personal list of favourite Beatles songs.