Sunday, March 8, 2009

Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby

For today's HarriSunday, let's check out a cover of one of George's idols, Carl Perkins, the King of Rockabilly himself. Everybody's TOTALLY trying to be George's baby today.

This "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" was done at a live performance at the Palais des Sports in Paris, in June of 1965. But it was hardly the first time the Beatles had performed this song live-- it had been part of their live set before they ever became gigantic international superstars. In fact, when they recorded it for commercial release on Beatles for Sale, they did it in one single, virtually flawless take.

Of course, this blissfully egotistical song took on a whole new meaning when they were international superstars. I mean, check out the 55,000-plus girls at the Shea Stadium concert. Each of them is totally trying-- would probably strangle every other girl in the stadium-- for the chance to be George's baby.

It's no wonder "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" was a favorite of the Beatles. George was a gigantic Carl Perkins fan, and his early style was greatly inspired by the rockabilly twang that Perkins made popular. The Beatles also performed "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Sure to Fall in Love with You" and "Matchbox" and lots of other Perkins numbers on a regular basis. But this song in particular is just so hilarious. Apparently, Perkins based his version of this song on an old blues number from the '30s, which had lyrics that were much more flagrantly about group sex and getting liquored up and so forth. (I'm unfamiliar with this version and can't vouch for it myself, but if anyone knows how I can find it-- tell me!) Even though Perkins reimagined the song with more innocent lyrics about his own groupies, that underlying jokey yet macho flair is still very much here, and it is awesome.

The Beatles' cover is as faithful as can be, with George fully in the Perkins mode he knows so well. But with George's vocal, there's a whole new level of adorable. Whereas Perkins's version is 100% swagger, George-- the youngest Beatle, only 21 when they recorded this in 1964-- sings it with this air of near shock, as if he can barely believe how much the ladies want him. His bravado is flavored with his sheer excitement for it all. And it's that earnestness in the vocal that just made all the ladies want him that much more. I, for one, would completely try to be George's baby. Just sayin'.

Anyway, I'll leave you with Perkins' original, which isn't played enough these days. I get the sense that whereas Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly and Ray Charles and so forth are all still recognized as the geniuses that they are, Carl Perkins is a little less remembered, at least among people my age. Dig the Perkins sound, kids. He is a GOD. George knew it, and you should too.

"Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby," released in the U.K. side B track 7 of Beatles for Sale, December 4, 1964; in the U.S. side B track 5 of Beatles '65, December 15, 1964.
I am indebted for all discography information to the tremendous

1 comment:

  1. Agree about Perkins. I think musicians recognize his talent, even if public appreciation has waned. He had stuff right up there with Elvis. I have to say, though, that the Beatles take on Everybody's Trying is fuller and, as you pointed out, the Beatles were flat playing TIGHT together. That live recording you posted is awesome. Not a misstep. No One could touch them as a live band. Too bad they stopped performing when they did. Though it is understandable.