Thursday, March 5, 2009

I Got to Find My Baby

Sometimes you agree to go out for a drink or two with friends after work. And sometimes you linger a little longer, getting perhaps three or four drinks. Sometimes you then meet up with your husband for more drinks afterwards. Sometimes you find yourself arriving home much, much later than you'd intended to on a work night. And then, what do you want to listen to? A song that's loose and dirty and awesome. Perhaps you manage to turn your iTunes on random before you collapse onto the couch halfway through taking off your snowboots, and all of a sudden the most kickass song comes on: the Beatles singing "I Got to Find My Baby," a track on Live at the BBC. "Man," you think to yourself, "I freaking LOVE Live at the BBC." And then you silently thank your blogging friend Meg for alerting you to this album's awesomeness in her blog posts. And you get up and you start doing this weird kind of removing-the-snowboots dance with your husband, who seems relatively bemused, though even he says, "What IS this? This song rocks" as he tries to carry you off to bed without getting more snow residue all over the living room.

I'm not saying that I would know anything about evenings like that. I'm just saying that "I Got to Find My Baby" is tremendous. And why wouldn't it be? It's a Chuck Berry song. That's practically synonymous with awesome. Now, on the original recording (which you have GOT to listen to if you're not familiar, here-- seriously, listen NOW), the song is kind of lolling and bluesy and hugely sexy, with a neat dotted swinging rhythm that basically raises your temperature. It is amazing. Now, for a single from a guy who's known for his guitar playing, the guitar is not what really what stands out-- it's all about Berry's vocals, the horns, and the drums going into triplets into the chorus. That is what I am freaking talking about.

At this point in their history, of course, the Beatles didn't have access to horns, so they did this cover their own way, with the guitars taking over the horn lines, to great effect, and John's own distinctive vocal-- which carries all the raw sexual angst of Berry's with that hint of Lennonesque glibness that seems to only belong to John. (Although this song was no doubt a fixture of their live set, by the way, this particular recording was done for the BBC June 11, 1963.)

There are a few other changes here to bring this bluesy number into the Beatles' own particular idiom. For one, they've sped up the tempo, which I think is another good change-- it just sounds more danceable and more natural in the Beatles jangly timbre anyway. They also cut down on the triplet figures in the drums, which make them seem all the more special when they DO appear. And who among us does not love a John Lennon harp solo? Oh dear God. It's enough to get me dancing all over the living room all over again. As with their best covers, the love that the band had for songs like this is just all over this recording. And if you don't love it too after listening, you might want to check and make sure you're not a robot.

"I Got to Find My Baby," released in the U.K. disc 2 track 29 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


  1. Yes, indeed, check for a pulse if you're not movin to this song. I swear I could listen to John sing the phone book. What a voice! I have not heard this song in decades. Great to hear a straight-ahead rock and roll number. Thanks for posting it here.

  2. Frank, if you haven't heard this in a while, you should totally pick up Live at the BBC! Or else dust off your old copy. I listen to this album a LOT.

  3. "Sound" advice; I'll check into acquiring a copy this week. Guess Amazon carries it.