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And from the first time that she really done me
Oh, she done me
She done me good
I guess nobody ever really done me
Oh, she done me
She done me good

This is a lyric of the song "Don't let me down" of the Beatles. "done" is the past participle of "do" and an adjective. Why is it "she really done me"?

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    To emphasize something David hinted at, I, as a native English speaker, would consider this rather atypical usage; "did me" would be more typical, but even that is somewhat non-standard. We are, of course, talking about poetry for which the rules of language can become quite... flexible. – Matthew Dec 22 '20 at 3:26
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    Besides the already-mentioned "she screwed me skillfully" [either sense of "screwed"] and "she improved my situation," it's also worth mentioning that there is a set phrase "she done me wrong", and so "she done me good" might be a bit of a play on that phrase, too. It's likely a bit of all of these; the Beatles were big on double meanings for the sake of double meanings. – Quuxplusone Dec 22 '20 at 15:16
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As often in song lyrics, this is not using standard grammar. It is unclear if "Done me" here means "loved me" or "had sex with me" or what -- quite probably the ambiguity is intentional. I suppose that the non-standard use of "done me" was made to sound more like the speech of the young narrator and to appeal to fans, as well as to fit the music.

This is not a good model to imitate except perhaps in writing popular songs.

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    The ambiguity is important : if it hadn't been ambiguous, it would probably have been banned from the BBC. The Rolling Stones, with "Let's spend the night together" sailed a bit too close to the wind. – user_1818839 Dec 22 '20 at 0:48
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    @BrianDrummond I'm guessing the Beatles' later song "Why don't we do it in the road?" didn't get too much air-play... – Darrel Hoffman Dec 22 '20 at 14:09
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It's very flexible in meaning. It could mean almost anything. It could mean nothing at all.

We say "she done me" in very casual speech to mean "she tricked me", so perhaps "She made me fall in love with her, even though she wasn't in love with me." Or it could be sex, since to "do" somebody is to have sex with them. So perhaps he is referring to good sex with his (then) girlfriend Yoko Ono.

But it probably doesn't really mean anything much.

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    Paul McCartney once said that they often created the tunes first and added the words later, often using nonsense lyrics while they fully developed the tune, including, once, the words on a sauce bottle label that was on the table one breakfast time. – Michael Harvey Dec 21 '20 at 15:26
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    Yesterday was once "Scrambled eggs/Oh my baby how I love your legs/Not as much as I love scrambled eggs" or some variant of that. – James K Dec 21 '20 at 15:34
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The point missing in all the answers so far is that The Beatles were massively influenced by Black American music, from very early in their career.

They had a tendency to re-use phrases from blues and rock & roll records from the states. This includes structures such as 'baby you done me wrong', which is almost a cliché of the blues-style lyric form.

Because they're Brits & no-one in the UK in those times was really au fait with the grammar and syntax of what was later termed African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) it's not really surprising that sometimes their usage of it was a little loose. Replacing the standard English 'did' with the African American 'done' is a particular vernacular form. It is correct within its own vernacular context. See the Tense and aspect section of the Wikipedia page.

You can interpret 'done' used in this lyrical context in many ways - and as alluded to elsewhere, The Beatles did like their wordplay jokes - but you could just consider it to be from those AAVE roots, somewhat mangled by the lack of full comprehension of that vernacular usage.

You could say the simplest way to read it would be that it ought to be 'did', but that still leaves the world uncertain as to exactly what they meant by it.

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    This is a great answer. Understanding the history of AAVE as its own dialect of English is important when trying to understand the apparent idiosyncrasies that exist a great deal of western song lyrics ranging from jazz to country. – Adam Starrh Dec 23 '20 at 17:58
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From the song we also have

Nobody ever loved me like she does
Oh, she does, yeah, she does
And if somebody loved me like she do me
Oh, she do me, yes, she does

I'm in love for the first time
Don't you know it's gonna last
It's a love that lasts forever
It's a love that had no past

So the passage you quoted is a play on two ideas:

  1. done me as a slang way of talking about sex
  2. A non-standard way of saying she caused him to fall in love

We know it's just not slang for sex because of this line:

I guess nobody ever really done me

Which means that nobody has ever made him feel real love before.

Given the song title of "Don't let me down" you get that the song is talking about the vulnerability of falling in love. He is afraid of the heartbreak that can follow falling in love.

Note:

This phrase can mean different things based on context. "He/She really done me" or "He/She really done/did me good" can also mean someone took advantage of you. This might just be regional US slang, though.

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  • I don't think they're asking what it means, but about the grammar. – Barmar Dec 22 '20 at 16:17
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As a variant opinion, the key phrase might be the final "she done me [a lot of] good", which is a usage certainly heard in what one might call "working class English".

However as a native British-English speaker, I'd echo @Matthew's comment: it's pushing the limit, even in the dialect known as "Scouse" with which The Beatles were intimately familiar.

I don't like trying to read too much into every word and phrase of "works or art", whether they be novels or songs. The important thing as far as OP is concerned is that this is not standard usage, and not to be emulated.

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