Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hello Little Girl

Here's what I feel like today: something cute and uncomplicated and breezy and fun. So let's listen to "Hello Little Girl," which seems to be the first song John ever wrote-- and I do think it's entirely his based on what I've read. He wrote it back in 1957, the year he turned 17, but it was still judged to be strong enough to bring out for the failed audition at Decca on New Year's Day, 1962-- which means we get to hear it on Anthology 1.

Of course, Decca turned down the Beatles, not seeing the gajillion-dollar opportunity in front of them. (Paul on Decca management: "I'll bet he's kicking himself now." John: "I hope he kicks himself to death.") And though history has not been kind to Decca's decision, I have to admit that listening to this song with the ears of a record exec looking for some kind of next big thing does not exactly make me see dollar (pound) signs either.

But consider the context: the Beatles were playing original songs, which was practically unheard of at the time, and their original songs were totally good-- they did this one and "Like Dreamers Do" as well, both now available on Anthology, as well as a bunch of covers-- and that alone should have been enough to make Decca take a second look. And I hear in "Hello Little Girl" tons of potential. It sounds like a cross between an uptempo Everly Brothers song and Bruce Channel's "Hey Baby" ("Hell-ooooooooo....") with a touch of skiffle-- which should have been enough to make them notice that if nothing else, these songwriters could do good imitations of popular songs, which can't be bad from a commercial perspective, right? (By the way, "Hey Baby" came out in 1961, so this couldn't have actually been an imitation-- but that's the first thing I think of when I listen to this nevertheless.) If George's guitar sounds tentative on the solo, and if Pete's drums are a little less defined than they could be, there's lots of other good stuff to single out, mainly in the vocals, which are as thick and expressive as they could be. The whole thing makes for a pleasant little shuffle around a dance floor, really, don't you think?

Of course, it's much much better that the Beatles found their way to EMI's Parlophone and to producer George Martin eventually, because without George Martin I doubt that anything would have been the same. So the Decca people were fated to be idiots, I guess. For what it's worth, George Martin correctly deemed "Hello Little Girl" too slight for the Beatles and inferior to the likes of "Please Please Me," their first number one, but did think it good enough to give to the Fourmost, another Merseyside band that Brian Epstein brought to EMI in the wake of the Beatles' ridiculous popularity. And the Fourmost had a number 9 hit with it-- which isn't bad for a song John wrote at 17, I'd say.

"Hello Little Girl," released in the U.K. and the U.S. disc 1 track 19 Anthology 1, November 21, 1995.
I am indebted for all discography information to the tremendous

1 comment:

  1. There's no denying the influence that George Martin had on the Beatles, but to be honest, I've always felt he was both the best thing to happen to them, and the worst. He "discovered" them, recognized the talent and introduced them to the world. They knew about writing songs and performing; he taught them about recording. BUT, for my taste, they produced too many songs with strings and horns and this, i feel, was due to his influence. I would have liked more kick ass rock and roll and stripped down ballads. Please don't misunderstand; they are my favorite band of all time and i think they are the greatest in terms of song writing and musicianship. Add both musical and social influence, and no one else has touched them. But, there's still too many damn violins!