Tuesday, March 10, 2009

She Loves You

I am in such a good mood today, weirdly, and I just wanted to CRANK SOMETHING UP. There's nothing like "She Loves You" for that. Just, oh my God. This song kicks as much ass now as it did back in 1963.

Also, I was inspired by Fan Extraordinaire Woody Lifton. His collection of otherwise-unhearable Beatles recordings and ephemera is the stuff of legend, and his radio show, "Pop Go the Beatles," let us all in on the greatness-- until last week, when EMI sent him a cease and desist order. I guess they had to protect us all from hearing these awesome recordings that, you know, THEY THEMSELVES WON'T RELEASE, which makes the most sense ever. Anyway, Woody's now blogging too, from his MySpace page, drawing from his encyclopedic knowledge and vast access to heaps of primary sources, and his post yesterday had a ton of fantastic stories about the recording of "She Loves You" that you pretty much have to read. And reading his post just made me want to listen to it again.

So, "She Loves You!" Where to begin? Of course, there's the commercially released single version, which they lipsynced to on Ready, Steady, Go. (As a bonus, we get a few of John's thoughts on dialectic materialism.)

But there are also a ton of live versions, since this song was a gigantic hit at a zillion different gigs in 1963 and 1964. For instance, you can catch the version they did at the Royal Variety Performance (the infamous "rattle your jewelry" performance before the British aristocracy) on Anthology 1. And then there's the wide variety on YouTube. I'm partial to this one, done for Swedish TV.

Like yesterday's "With a Little Help from My Friends," here's a Lennon-McCartney song that was written eyeball-to-eyeball, their early method of working together before they gravitated more toward their own separate styles. It truly belongs to both of them. This was only their fourth single, but it established them as total gods, breaking almost every sales record there is and solidifying Beatlemania as a mania for the ages.

I might be remembering this wrong, but I think this song originally began with the verse, "You think you've lost your love," and that it took George Martin to tell them that it would actually be heaps better if they kicked right into the energy of the chorus. And you just can't imagine "She Loves You" opening with anything other than, um, "She loves you," can you? I believe the "yeah yeah yeah"s were also a late addition, and that for a while there was sort of a blank space where words would eventually go. It's amazing that details this key would come so late, but there you have it. Anyway, the Beatle philistines out there (big ol' square grownups every one) seized upon the "yeah yeah yeah" bits as proof that the Beatles were making teenagers stupid with their inarticulate Americanisms, completely missing that the "yeah yeah yeah" bits don't NEED to be articulate. They're euphoric. They're where the whole meat of the song is. They're the suggestive elbow nudge of the singer delivering this piece of good news-- they mean "you're getting laid tonight!" Yeah yeah YEAH.

As in many early Beatles songs, in "She Loves You" the sex stays politely out of the lyrics but practically drips from the music. Here, it's in George's guitar, which echoes the "yeah" line right at the tail of that bit "you know that can't be bad" and curls its lip lustfully around those little licks that precede the beginning of each verse. Most noticeably, it's in the tremendous vocals, here cranked up way past 11-- ESPECIALLY on the "yeah"s, which the Beatles knew full well were the point of the whole song. (So did George Martin, who turned up the echo on the "yeahs" to heighten the effect.) But my favorite parts might be Ringo's, honestly. Listen to when he comes in on the "she loves you" when it appears in the verses-- he's doing this cool eighth-note syncopation thing that comes so far out of nowhere that you almost do a double-take. And I love the way he make a triplet out of the final "yeah" on each repeat of that line in the chorus. It's all just so smart. The song has so much going for it anyway in sheer infectiousness, he didn't even necessarily need to do stuff like that, but what he added is this awesome panache that's all Ringo. Yay Ringo!

Well, now I'm bound to be dancing to this one all freaking day, which is going to rock. There are heaps more videos of this for you to find, but I want to leave you with this, which I hadn't seen before-- footage of the Beatles playing Manchester. In fact, this video probably gives you the best idea of what "She Loves You" would sound like at a concert with actual screaming. The song starts around 2:50, but you really owe it to yourself to watch the whole thing-- there's bonus "From Me to You" and "Twist and Shout" for you here, plus lots more. Enjoy!

"She Loves You," released in the U.K. as a single c/w "I'll Get You," August 23, 1963; in the U.S., released by Swan and universally ignored, September 16, 1963.
I am indebted for all discography information to the tremendous Beatles-Discography.com.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Megan. Those clips are terrific. The concert one really demonstrates how bonkers the gals went at seeing them live. I can't listen to this song without being reminded of how Yoko chided John when she first met him, by saying something like "She loves you, yeah ... yeah ... yeah. (pause) Really, John." Obviously, the song lyrics don't have the introspective of some later works, but this song rocks and Still Sounds Great! It's energy is infectious. And what is wrong with that? Nothing!