Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Hey! You!

Ready to dance?


Because it's "Lucille," kiddies! Yow!

Oh, you know, kids, it's so great that Live at the BBC came out and we could get a chance to legally hear Paul McCartney ROCK THE SHIT out of some "Lucille" while he was a young lad and the Beatles were a young band. There have been versions available on bootleg forever, but most of them are from the Get Back sessions, which featured the Beatles, you know, getting back to playing some of that old school rock and roll that had gotten them excited about music in the first place. But none of those dusty Get Back recordings are as killer as hearing the Beatles doing it live in 1963, when fame was still kind of a novelty, and when they actually all liked each other.

"Lucille," of course, was a Little Richard single, and Paul's Little Richard impression was part of what had gotten him into the Beatles (nee Quarrymen) in the first place. And Paul does totally nail it. I LOVE Paul singing like this, really I do-- he just sounds so freaked out just to be alive.

By the time they performed this on the BBC in October of 1963, they had already done it tons of time in their live set, and their expertise shows. They have that pleasantly messy, shuffly sound of their early years here, but the playing itself couldn't be tighter, the guitars just awesome on that repeating figure that drives the song. That figure mimics the horn parts on Little Richard's original, but it also has to imitate the percussive sound of the piano, which was Little Richard's instrument of choice here. For a guitar band, the Beatles make the most of their strings, I think, twanging the guitars for all they're worth to keep the percussive feel going. It totally works.

And George on the solo! I mean, listen to this solo and you instantly get why girls wanted to throw themselves at him. Seriously, it's really fantastic-- it's a solo that's flirty and coy and panting all at once.

So, Saint Patrick's Day in Boston tends to be this kind of raucous, ridiculous festivity that always makes me want to hide in my bedroom until the crazies outside have stopped throwing Guinness cans at each other and barfing in the driveway next to my building. And since Paul's "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" period came later, and I couldn't think of another Beatles song that seemed appropriate, I am celebrating this weird holiday by just listening to a song that I feel, under the right circumstances, could bring out the crazy in me. And crazy seems to be the point of this day around here anyway. Afterwards, I'm drinking beer at the Belgian bar across the street, where nothing green is on tap, thank God.

Anyway, in case you're not feeling the crazy yet, here's Little Richard live on "Lucille" for you. It's one of these cases in which I can't decide if the original is actually better or not-- so I'll leave it up to you. Happy inappropriately-observed Saint Patrick's Day! Wooooooo!

"Lucille," released in the U.K. disc 1 track 31 of Live at the BBC, November 30, 1994; in the U.S. December 6, 1994.
I am indebted for all discography information to the tremendous Beatles-Discography.com.


  1. Megan ... A couple days ago a brown envelope arrived in my mailbox carrying a copy of Live at The BBC. I ordered it because of your strong recommendation and after hearing several cuts that you've posted. I can only echo what you have proclaimed numerous times --- it rocks. I've been blowing the doors off the house! Thanks again for the wonderful blog you are maintaining.

  2. YES!! Thanks for the kudos, Frank-- that album does completely rule. I think it's the next best thing to hearing the Beatles live. Enjoy!