Friday, February 27, 2009

Give Peace a Chance

"Give Peace a Chance" is associated with many interesting Beatles facts, a perfect example being that the song was the first solo single to be released while the Beatles were still together. It was a Lennon composition credited to the songwriting team of Lennon-McCartney. (The McCartney credit was later removed with the issue of Lennon's posthumous Live in New York City, an LP recorded with the his Elephant's Memory Band.)

Released on July 4 and 7, 1969 in the UK and U.S. respectively, the song was recorded on June 1, 1969 on a four-speed tape recorder at the Lennons' bed-in at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal Canada, the first bed-in having been held in Amsterdam. The song was rehearsed for several days in the hotel room, and the subsequent recording session was attended by Tommy Smothers, Petula Clark, Timothy Leary, Dick Gregory, Allen Ginsberg, Murray the K, Al Capp, Derek Taylor, and others. Lennon could not always recall the exact lyrics to the last verse and switched them frequently when performing the song.

"Give Peace a Chance" was the A Side of the single, with "Remember Love" as the B Side. The song was also issued on The John Lennon Collection, Shaved Fish, Lennon, and the soundtrack for The U.S. vs. John Lennon.

Like "Imagine," the song quickly became an anthem for peace and was used for many charitable and political events, including the demonstration in Washington, D.C. on Vietnam Memorial Day on October 16, 1969. The song was performed by a host of celebrities on that occasion, including Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul, and Mary. It has also been included in the soundtracks for countless films.

The song has been covered by hundreds of artists. Some include: Paul McCartney (live), Ringo Starr (live), John Frusciante, Lenny Kravitz, Sean Ono Lennon, Bonnie Raitt, Steven Van Zandt, Tom Petty, Cindi Lauper, Bruce Hornsby, Peter Gabriel, MC Hammer, LL Cool J, and Michael McDonald. Lennon friend Elton John used the song as the B Side to his single "The Club at the End of the Street."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

All Things Must Pass: The Album

Because George Harrison's All Things Must Pass was issued as a triple album, it is associated with dozens of fascinating Beatles facts. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios from May to September, 1970, the LP was released on November 27, 1970 on Apple-EMI. It was produced by Harrison and Phil Spector.

Harrison had written many of the songs, such as "Isn't It a Pity," as early as 1966. Other songs, such as "All Things Must Pass" and "Hear Me Lord" were written slightly later and played during the Let It Be sessions. An elegant acoustic version of "All Things Must Pass" is featured on Anthology. Other songs were written while visiting Bob Dylan and The Band at Woodstock circa 1968. In fact, Harrison and Dylan co-wrote "I'd Have You Anytime." "Behind That Locked Door" was written for Dylan, who had left the stage at the Isle of Wight concert feeling disheartened after performing songs from Nashville Skyline and John Wesley Harding, songs that were understated compared to Dylan's more energetic electric/acoustic period--songs that did not receive the kind of enthusiastic response Dylan was anticipating. "Wah Wah" is allegedly a song aimed at McCartney, who had become overbearing during Beatles' sessions from the White Album on. Harrison, it is said, didn't want all of Paul's criticism, advice, and "wah wah." "The Ballad of Frankie Crisp" is an allusion to the nineteenth-century builder of the mansion at Harrison's estate at Friar Park, Sir Frank Crisp. Harrison learned "If Not For You" while attending a Dylan session for Dylan's New Morning LP. "Apple Scruffs" referred to Beatles fans that would wait outside of Abbey Road Studios or Apple headquarters at Saville Row to see the group. "It's Johnny's Birthday" was a gift for John Lennon.

Harrison played approximately fifteen songs for Spector on his acoustic guitar at the album's inception in May, 1970, these songs representing Harrison's growing backlog of songs accumulated before the Beatles' break-up since Harrison was only allotted one to three songs per album by the group. Some songs did not make Spector's cut and have never been issued: "Cosmic Empire," "Tell Me What Happened to You," "Mother Divine," Nowhere to Go," and "Window, Window." Other songs not included on the LP would find release on other Harrison albums and/or projects.

The third vinyl record (titled "Apple Jam") in the All Things Must Pass package consisted of long jam sessions with musician friends. Featured on the album are musicians such as Ringo Starr, Badfinger, Alan White, Billy Preston, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Klaus Voorman, Peter Frampton, and John Lennon.

The other Beatles were reportedly astonished at the success of Harrison's album, which reached the number one spot in both the UK and U.S. for eight and seven weeks respectively. The break-out single on the album was the immensely popular "My Sweet Lord" that would eventually embroil Harrison in a controversy over ownership of the song since the Chiffon's music company claimed it borrowed the melody from their hit, "He's So Fine."

In 2001, a remastered All Things Must Pass was issued, including recently re-recorded parts of "My Sweet Lord." Harrison had worked on the re-mastering of the triple LP in 2000 but died shortly after its release. The cover was changed from the original box set, which featured Harrison sitting on the grounds of Friar Park surrounded by short statues of gnomes. The work is now available on a two-CD mini-box set.

Covers of various tracks from "All Things Must Pass" were done by Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Tom Petty, Joe Cocker, Nina Simone, and the Rutles.

The tracks included:

I'd Have You Anytime
My Sweet Lord
Wah Wah
Isn't It a Pity (version 1)
What Is Life
If Not For You
Behind that Locked Door
Let It Down
Run of the Mill
Beware of Darkness
Apple Scruffs
Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)
Awaiting on You All
All Things Must Pass
I Dig Love
Art of Dying
Isn't It a Pity (version 2)
Hear Me Lord
Out of the Blue
It's Johnny's Birthday
Plug Me In
I Remember Jeep
Thanks for the Pepperoni

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Instant Karma

This single by the Beatles' John Lennon has an interesting history with several relevant facts about Lennon's solo recording career. The song was recorded on January 27, 1970 and released on February 6, 1970, only ten days after the track was laid down. "Instant Karma" was, almost literally, an instant record. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, it was produced by Phil Spector and issued under the Apple label, with "Who Has Seen the Wind" on the B Side. The A Side had the words "Play Loud" stamped near the spindle hole, while Side B had "Play Soft" stamped in the same place.

Some biographers believe Lennon used Spector as the producer for this track in order to gauge how he worked since the band was considering giving the Let It Be tapes to Spector to remix. Ultimately, Spector's work would not pass muster with the Beatles, especially McCartney, and the band's final response came with the issue of Let It Be Naked over twenty-five years later, with a different mix of the album.

Recorded the very same day it was written, "Instant Karma" featured an impressive group of musicians backing Lennon. Klaus Voorman played bass, Billy Preston piano, Alan White drums, and George Harrison lead guitar. (Harrison was naturally interested in promoting the idea of karma.) Harrison and Yoko Ono provided backing vocals, and former Beatles roadie Mal Evans provided handclaps. Lennon sang lead vocal and played the electric piano, the latter instrument giving the track its now-famous and distinctive opening two chords.

"Instant Karma" is one of Rolling Stone magazine's Top 500 Records of all time. Covers for the song were done by many artists, including Duran Duran, U2, John Hiatt, and The Rascals. The title of Stephen King's The Shining derives from the song's lyric "We all shine on." The song has been featured in many movies, and it also prompted a sketch on the cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The White Album

The White Album has about as many Beatles facts as any other album by the group. The double LP was recorded from May 30, 1968 to October 14, 1968, and the Beatles themselves admit it was "the beginning of the end" as band members more and more recorded their tracks (or parts of others' tracks) separately or in different studios at Abbey Road. (A few tracks were recorded at Trident Studios.) It was this time, in fact, that Ringo temporarily left the group. Also, Yoko began attending the sessions, and the album marks the first time other artists recorded with the Beatles, artists such as Eric Clapton ("While My Guitar Gently Weeps"), Jackie Lomax, and Dave Mason. It was released in the UK on November 22, 1968 and in the U.S. on November 25, 1968. Until 1977, it was the best-selling double LP of all time.

George Martin believed that the group should have recorded a solid single album, but the Beatles had written many songs while in India and had a backlog that they were determined to put out in this double-package format. Even then, many songs did not make it onto the final product, such as Harrison's "Not Guilty," Lennon's "What's the New Mary Jane," and several others. (The two mentioned above are included on Anthology.

Harrison, Lennon, and Starr felt at this point that they were becoming a back-up band for McCartney (although Starr quit because he felt he wasn't drumming well). McCartney was paying extraordinary attention to his own material at the expense of working on the others' material, although there are some notable exceptions. Starr noted in Anthology, for example, that the feuding went out the window when the group was working on a solid track, such as "Yer Blues."

Many present at the sessions, such as former Quarryman Pete Shotton, felt that Yoko's presence stifled communication among the band members, who no longer felt as if the sessions were intimate enough to offer constructive criticism. At one point, Ono moved her bed into the studio because she was ill, and biographers have stated that she went as far as offering criticisms for various tracks, a gesture that didn't sit well with Harrison, McCartney, or Starr.

There are even great facts surrounding the actual white packaging. The official title of the LP was The Beatles, which was embossed on the cover together with serial numbers to make each copy completely distinctive. (The numbering was allegedly McCartney's idea.) Inside the album was a large fold-out sheet with a collage of pictures of the Beatles on one side and the lyrics to all album songs on the other. The package also contained decent-sized, individual color pictures of each band member. The design for the collage was done by Jeremy Banks.

The working title for the album was A Doll's House. After "Cry Baby Cry," part of a McCartney song is heard with the lyric "Can you take me back where I feel good, brother can you take me back." This track is not listed on the album even though "Wild Honey Pie," another snippet, is included.

Lennon liked his work on the White Album very much. Harrison liked the LP as well, although like George Martin, he felt that there was too much material for the listener to deal with. Starr thought it was a better exercise in pure rock and roll, unlike the very experimental Sgt. Pepper. McCartney has always defended the album simply on the basis that it was a Beatles' album and sold well, although he has also added that it has merit because it shows the band in an atmosphere where it was free to experiment.

The White Album also fed the "Paul Is Dead" mania because there are bits and pieces of sentences from "Revolution 9" which, when played backwards, seem to reveal Lennon saying "Turn me on dead man" or other fragments alluding to Paul's demise. As far as this track in general, McCartney, Starr, and Harrison did not like it at all and fought unsuccessfully to keep it from being included.

The tracks included:

Back in the U.S.S.R.
Dear Prudence
Glass Onion
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Wild HOney Pie
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness Is a Warm Gun
Martha My Dear
I'm So Tired
Rocky Raccoon
Don't Pass Me By
Why Don't We Do It in the Road
I Will
Yer Blues
Mother Nature's Son
Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey
Sexy Sadie
Helter Skelter
Long, Long, Long
Revolution I
Honey Pie
Savoy Truffle
Cry Baby Cry
Revolution 9
Good Night

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Sweet Lord

George Harrison, the quiet member of Beatles, released "My Sweet Lord" as a single in the U.S. on November 23, 1970 and in the UK on January 14, 1971. Many facts are associated with the song, starting with the above release dates. Harrison had decided not to release the song as a single so as not to hurt sales for album on which it was featured, All Things Must Pass. When Harrison, EMI, and Apple relented, the song hit the number one position on charts in America and Britain and was therefore the first song by any of the former Beatles to top the charts. In England, the B Side was "What Is Life," while in America, the B Side was "Isn't It a Pity." "My Sweet Lord" was produced by George Harrison and Phil Spector.

The song was originally written for Billy Preston's LP Encouraging Words, although Harrison's version became the mega-hit. Preston's version was produced by Harrison and featured Alan White (from Yes) on drums.

Harrison played the song on a Gibson Hummingbird, which helps produce the rich, dominant tones that open the song. Early in the song, and continuing throughout, are various chants and mantras, such as the Hindu "Hare Krishna/Hare Rama." A chorus is also heard singing "Hallelujah." Harrison would often change the chant in concert so as not to single out any denomination, at times using the word "Christ" in a respectful manner. He performed the song during The Concert for Bangladesh. As he opened the song with the famous minor-to-major chord strumming, the crowd erupted, and a brief smile crossed Harrison's face.

The song was covered by many other artists: Andy Williams, Peggy Lee, John Mayer, to name just a few.

Although Harrison claimed that the song's inspiration came from "Oh Happy Day" by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, George's music publishing company, Harrisongs, was sued because of the similarities between the Chiffon's "He's So Fine" and "My Sweet Lord." A United States Federal Court ruled in the favor of Bright Tunes Music, which governed rights to the Chiffon's song, and Harrisongs was ordered to pay a sizable portion of the royalties form "My Sweet Lord" and partial royalties from All Things Must Pass. Harrison later wrote a satire on the protracted legal battle called "Sue Me, Sue You Blues." His "This Song" also alludes to the lawsuit. The Chiffons later recorded "My Sweet Lord" as well.

The song's legacy is safe, however. Harrison later bought the rights to "He's So Fine," and he recorded a different version of "My Sweet Lord" for the 2000 re-issue of All Things Must Pass. The song is also listed as one of Rolling Stone's best 500 songs, and the song was performed by Dhani Harrison and others at The Concert for George in 2002 at London's Royal Albert Hall.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lennon Song: Imagine

This post-Beatles song by John Lennon has many interesting facts associated with its long history. It was recorded on June 23, 1971 and released on Imagine on September 9, 1971 in the U.S. and on October 8, 1971 in the UK. Its origin is in dispute. Some have claimed that Lennon's use of the word "Imagine" in "I'll Get You" spurred the composition. Others say that the word "imagine" appeared frequently in Yoko's poetry (her book Grapefruit). It is the A Side to "It's So Hard."

Lennon acknowledged that the song was intended to criticize capitalism, religion, and nationalism. Despite it's verse on imagining "no heaven," the song transcended any original criticism of the song and has become Lennon's unofficial anthem and is widely played all around the world and is considered an anthem, above all, for peace. The song was also the inspiration for Lennon's imaginary country of peace--Nutopia--where anyone could claim citizenship regardless of where he or she lived.

Besides the controversy over the song's sentiment about religion, it has been criticized frequently for advocating the abandonment of possessions even though its author was worth over a hundred million dollars. Lennon responded by saying that he was advocating an abandonment of mental possessions and outmoded ways of thinking. This criticism seems overtly trivial since Lennon was obviously making a philosophical statement and merely suggesting that people try to envision a world with different values.

Lennon's opening piano chords have become famous and recognizable in hundreds of cultures. The song was produced on the Apple label by Phil Spector, with suggestions from Yoko Ono.

Several dozen artists have covered the song since it was first recorded. Among the many are Ray Charles, Joan Baez, Diana Ross, Jefferson Starship, Dolly Parton, Blues Traveler, and Avril Lavigne. The song is frequently featured in movies and television shows.

The word "Imagine" is written in the middle of the Strawberry Fields monument in Central Park in New York City, about a hundred yards from the Dakota Building, where John and Yoko lived at the time of his death.

The promotional video made for this song in the early 1970s shows John and Yoko, dressed in white, in an all-white room as John plays a white piano while Yoko opens one window shudder at a time, allowing more and more light into the room to symbolize the dawn of hope.

Rolling Stone named the song as #3 on its all-time list of greatest songs.

Beatles Song: Cry Baby Cry

The interesting Beatles fact for this song issued on The White Album is that Lennon, who thought the song "rubbish," got the words from an advertisement. It was recorded at Abbey Road on July 16 and 18, 1968.

Lennon sings lead. McCartney plays bass, Harrison lead, Lennon rhythm (acoustic), Starr drums, and george Martin harmonium.

Beatles Song: Rocky Raccoon

The great Beatles fact about this track is that McCartney wrote it in India while playing guitars with John Lennon and Donovan. It was recorded August 15, 1968 at Abbey Road.

McCartney sings lead. Lennon plays harmonica, Harrison bass, Starr drums, and George Martin piano.

Beatles Song: I'm So Tired

This Lennon track from the Beatles' White Album is another one of Lennon's favorites. The interesting fact is that John, who didn't like his own voice, thought he sang the song well. It was recorded on October 8, 1968. Lennon utters some gibberish after the take, and some believe that played backwards, he is saying "Paul is dead, miss him, miss him."

Lennon sings lead and McCartney harmony. Lennon plays lead, Harrison rhythm, McCartney bass, and Starr drums.

Happiness Is a Warm Gun

This Lennon composition was issued on the Beatles' White Album. Parts of it ("I need a fix ...") can be heard on Anthology from an early recording Lennon made with just an acoustic guitar. A fascinating fact was that Lennon got the idea for the song because he saw a picture of a smoking gun on the cover of a gun magazine. "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" was the name of the accompanying article in the magazine. It is the combination of three different Lennon songs.

Lennon considered it one of his best songs, although it was banned by the BBC because of sexually suggestive lyrics. The song was recorded on September 23 and 24, 1968 at Abbey Road, combining the best two versions from over forty-five takes for the final mix. McCartney and Harrison both claimed it was one of their favorite songs from the double LP.

Lennon sings lead, and MccCrtney and Harrison do backing vocals. Lennon played lead, Harrison rhythm, McCartney bass, and Starr drums.

Beatles Songs - Solo

The following songs were recorded by the Beatles near the end of the band's career together or, as is more often the case, in the years after they broke up. Since Beatles Facts - covers all periods of Beatles history, the archive on this page will continue to grow.

Give Peace a Chance
Instant Karma
My Sweet Lord

Monday, February 16, 2009

Beatles Song: Getting Better

This Beatles song from Sgt. Pepper's is primarily a McCartney song (he still performs it in concerts), but John contributed about a third of the lyrics. An interesting fact is that the inserted background of "It can't get much worse," for example, was a Lennon contribution. Lennon admitted that he was physically abusive with women and hence the lines also alluding to being cruel. McCartney says the title occurred to him after thinking back to what Jimmy Nicholls (replacement drummer for Ringo when he was sick) used to say: "It's getting better."

The unusual string sound in the song is George Martin hitting piano strings instead of the keys.

McCartney sang lead, and McCartney and Lennon sang backing vocals. McCartney played bass, Starr drums, and George Martin piano. Some sources say that Harrison played lead guitar, others Lennon. It's possible that both played different riffs.

Beatles Song: She Loves You

This is an early Beatles hit that has many interesting facts associated with it. It is an equal collaboration between Lennon and McCartney, and the song was allegedly written in a hotel room in England after a performance on June 26, 1963. It was Harrison's idea for the song to end on a major 6th chord even though George Martin was against it.

A German version was recorded--"Sie Liebt Dich"--as was "I Want to Hold Your Hand." The versions were released on Capitol's Something New. The song was a regular in the Beatles' set list for 1963 and 1964 and was performed on Sullivan and many other shows as well (in England).

"She Loves You," like "Please Please Me," was not released by Capitol in the United States. After "I Want to Hold Your Hand" became a hit in mid-January of 1964, however, Capitol relented and the Beatles had hit after hit charting in the top five slots on Billboard.

The song was recorded at Abbey Road on July 1, 1963. Lennon and McCartney share lead vocals. Harrison plays lead, Lennon rhythm, McCartney bass, and Starr drums.

Beatles Song: I Should Have Known Better

This Beatles song was the B Side to "A Hard Day's Night," released in the U.S. on July 13, 1964. The most interesting fact about the song is that George used his twelve-string Rickenbacker, which then influenced many other groups, such as The Byrds. It's a Lennon composition recorded February 25 and 26, 1964, shortly after their return from America. The band performs the song (lip syncing) in the baggage car of the train in A Hard Day's Night. It is also performed at the end of the concert in the same film.

Lennon sings the lead, double-tracked, plays hamronica, and acoustic guitar. McCartney plays bass, Harrison lead, and Starr drums.

Beatles Song: She Came in Through the Bathroom Window

This Beatles track from Abbey Road was part of the many bits of songs that made up Side B. There are conflicting facts about its composition. It was written in the spring of 1968. Some have claimed that it refers to someone breaking into McCartney's home, but Lennon believed the song to have been written when he and Paul were in New York to announce the beginning of Apple Corps. Most believe that the "she" is a vague reference to Linda, who Paul met during this time period. The song was recorded as a single track with "Polythene Pam." It was performed as early as the Let It Be sessions. It was recorded on January 22, 1969 for Abbey Road.

Harrison thought it was a strong McCartney tune, and Joe Cocker later covered it.

McCartney sings lead and plays lead guitar. Harrison plays bass. Starr plays drums. Lennon plays acoustic guitar and provides backing vocal.

Beatles History: The Beatles Travel to India

A well-known Beatles Fact is that the group went to Rishikesh In India on February 16, 1968 to study Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi. The Beatles were accompanied by Donovan, Mike Love, Prudence and Mia Farrow, and many more celebrities, friends, and relatives. George would retain his interest in meditation for the rest of his life.

Beatles History: Second Sullivan Appearance

An important fact in early 1964 was that the Beatles appeared for the second time on Ed Sullivan --February 15, 1964. This would be their last live taping since their third appearance had already been taped a week earlier. The show was aired from the Deauville Hotel in Miami. The group sang:

She Loves You
That Boy
All My Loving
I Saw Her Standing There
From Me to You
I Want to Hold Your Hand

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Beatles Song: Get Back

This Beatles song was written in the studio on January 27, 1969 and the surprising fact is that it was recorded the very same day. McCartney admits he just grabbed the lyrics off the top of his head. This initial recording was used for the Let It Be album. The single version was recorded the following day. The song is also played at the Rooftop Concert on January 30, 1969 on top of Saville Row, headquarters of Apple Corps.

The song is performed in the film Let It Be, and a second version is also heard in the film, a version with different lyrics, ones concerned with the overcrowding of Pakistani families in London flats. McCartney was accused of racism, although he said he threw the lines into the off-the-cuff version because he was against such living conditions. Lennon commented on numerous occasions that he believed the line "Get back to where you once belonged" was a reference to Yoko Ono.

The song was released as a single in the UK and U.S. on April 11 and May 5, 1969 respectively. The album and single versions are different inasmuch as the single adds additional bars, starting with Ringo's drums, whereas the album's version ends more abruptly.

McCartney sings lead, with Lennon providing backing on the chorus. McCartney plays bass, Lennon lead, Harrison rhythm, Starr drums, and Billy Preston keyboards. George Martin was especially impressed with Preston's playing on the Let It Be tracks. Lennon can also be heard in the background on the album, saying "Picture the fingers." He was using his white( stripped down) Epiphone Casino, and was enjoying playing lead at this point.

Beatles Songs: Magical Mystery Tour

This Beatles song's most interesting fact is that it grew organically. McCartney had the idea for it almost immediately after Sgt. Pepper's was finished. During the recording session on April 25, 1967 (overdubs were added later), McCartney had only a few lyrics and a couple of bars of melody. He was far more clear on what the opening should be, with horns introducing the song with a flourish. As more of the melody emerged, the Beatles laid down a backing instrumental track while Mal Evans took notes on ideas from various band members. Lennon played acoustic guitar for this track, Harrison played lead, and Starr drums. After a break at the studio, McCartney added bass to the track. Trumpets would later be added in subsequent days, and the lyrics would be finished (almost entirely McCartney's) during the overdubs. The Magical Mystery Tour film began production about five months later as the idea for the movie evolved.

Beatles Song: Eleanor Rigby

This Beatles track's most interesting fact is that it is one of the few songs where the authorship was disputed, with Lennon attempting to say he had a major hand in writing the song when, given other relevant facts, it is clear that this is almost completely a McCartney composition. Lennon said approximately 70% of the lyrics were his. The song was recorded April 28 and 29, 1966 at Abbey Road and released in the UK and U.S. as a single on August 5 and 8, 1966 respectively as the B Side to "Yellow Submarine."

The song was apparently composed at Lennon's house at Weybridge with all Beatles present (and stoned). The original character in the song was Miss Daisy Hawkins, but McCartney didn't like the sound and changed her last name to Rigby after seeing a shop called Rigby in Great Britain. The name Eleanor was used because McCartney thought of actress Eleanor Braun, who had worked with the group in the film Help! Another name change was from the lonely Father McCartney (Ringo's suggestion) to Father Mackenzie since Paul felt self-conscious about using his own name in the song since it might reflect on his "father." MacKenzie was settled on after someone randomly looked through the phonebook. At one point, McCartney considered a relationship between Mackenzie and Rigby but decided that this wouldn't fit the song's theme.

George Martin scored the strings, violins and cellos. McCartney sings lead, with Lennon and McCartney doing harmony.

Beatles Song: Please Please Me

The first big Beatles hit in England, this Lennon number was written early in his career at his aunt's house on Menlove Avenue and has several interesting facts surrounding its composition and evolution. Lennon's original version was very slow since he was trying to write in the style of Roy Orbison's "Only the Lonely." George Martin hated the song and refused to record the song unless the Beatles first recorded "How Do You Do It," a song the group didn't care for. They placated Martin and the lackluster take is featured on Anthology.

Lennon was particularly pleased with the double meaning of "please" in the title. When Harrison suggested to Martin that they record it at a faster tempo, Martin agreed and said when the session was finished that he knew the group had its first number one hit. Capitol Records refused to pick up the song in the United States, however, even though the song was a hit in England (released in the UK on January 11, 1963). After the release of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in 1964, however, the song shot up to number three on American charts.

The song was performed on the Sullivan Show and at the Washington Coliseum and at Carnegie Hall on the band's first American tour. It is the title track of the Please Please Me album. The slow version was recorded at the "Love Me Do" session.

Beatles Song: Don't Bother Me

"Don't Bother Me" is an early Beatles song by George Harrison that has a couple of interesting facts associated with it. Harrison never liked the song but felt that it proved that he could write a song. It was featured in the movie A Hard Day's Night (played for a few seconds while the group was in the disco), however, and the song received air play on radio station just like all other Beatles songs, both singles and from LPs.

Harrison says that he wrote the song in a hotel room while sick when touring England in 1963. The title "Don't Bother Me," he went on to say, might have reflected his frame of mind, which is to say he didn't feel good and wanted to be left alone.

The song was recorded September 11 and 12, 1963 at Abbey Road and was included on both With the Beatles and Meet the Beatles. Harrison's vocal lead is double-tracked. He plays lead guitar, Lennon rhythm, McCartney bass, and Starr the bongos and drum.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Beatles Songs: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

There are naturally many facts surrounding what many regard as the most famous Beatles album of all. The song, originally recorded on February 1, 1967 was reprised near the end of the album at the suggestion of Neil Aspinall. This was done on April 1, 1967. After the initial takes of this track were made, Paul said he envisioned that the album could be written around the concept of the Pepper Band really existing. Actually, other tracks, such as "When I'm Sixty-four" were already recorded, and McCartney is on record as saying that he had envisioned the album from the outset as the work of one of the many "medicine show bands" of the time. Indeed, he said he got the "concept idea" flying back to Great Britain after hearing the Beach Boys Pet Sounds, so there is disagreement as to when the "concept" idea was injected into the recording sessions. Sources differ widely.

Geoff Emerick told an interviewer that Ringo's snares really thundered and that the bass cover was taken off and that the bass itself was filled with padding, a common practice today. (Other critics have also noted how much the drums stand out.) The audience noises were dubbed in by George Martin (he had taped a concert he'd attended) to make it seem as if the album were being performed live. Harrison, McCartney, and Starr performed the song for the wedding of Patti Boyd Harrison and Eric Clapton in 1979. The name Billy Shears at the song's end was used for its poetic sound, providing a lead-in to the next track, sung by Ringo.

McCartney sings lead, and Harrison and Lennon lend strong voices to the backing vocals on the chorus. Lennon played lead guitar, although other sources say Harrison or McCartney played the lead. McCartney played bass, and Starr drums. The same is said of the reprise. The Epiphone Casinos purchased by Lennon and Harrison during Rubber Soul continued to be used on Sgt. Pepper. (McCartney had one as well).

Beatles Song: I Dig A Pony

The relevant fact for this Beatles song is that it is apparently a reference to Yoko One, as evidenced by the line "All I Want is You." It is the merging of two different Lennon songs: "All I Want Is You" and "Dig a Pony." The latter title appears on the U.S. version, while the former was the original title for the UK Apple listing.

The track was recorded at Apple Studios on January 22 and 28. Some sources say that final recording issued represents the performance given on the rooftop at Saville Row on January 30, 1969. Lennon believed the song to be "garbage" even though fans and critics think it to be one of the best songs on the album.

Lennon sings lead and McCartney provides harmony. Lennon plays lead (he was doing so regularly on his compositions at the time), Harrison rhythm, McCartney bass, Starr drums, and Billy Preston organ.