Saturday, April 25, 2009

Words of Love

The Beatles might have been inspired in their choice of a band name by Buddy Holly's Crickets, but they only ever covered one Buddy Holly song on an official release. And even then, not until Beatles for Sale, which was practically the last album on which covers played an important part anyway. But in fact Holly was a favorite throughout their career, and they played a bunch of his songs in the stage shows in the late '50s and early '60s. The very first Beatles (nee Quarrymen) recording was of "That'll Be the Day" (backed with "In Spite of All the Danger"), and "Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues" makes an appearance as late as the Get Back sessions-- you can hear it on Anthology 3.

But "Words of Love" is what they pulled out for the Beatles for Sale sessions, probably just to get another mid-tempo/ballad kind of thing onto the album, and also because it's just a nice song anyway. Though I don't believe this was much of a hit for Holly in 1957 when the single came out, I've always kind of loved it-- and I probably love the Beatles' version more than Buddy Holly's, if I'm honest. (I couldn't find a video, but you can listen to the Buddy Holly original here.) Fun fact about Holly's recording: it's the first known double-tracked vocal, for he's actually harmonizing with himself. When the Beatles did it, of course, John and Paul sang together in their inimitable way, and mixed the voices so that they're at about equal volume. Whereas the high part on Holly's recording is more of an accent, the Beatles approach the vocals in much more equitable, Everlys-esque kind of way.

The laid-back feel of this track, and sunshiney ringing of George's guitar (which is a complete tribute to Holly's-- as is usual with the Beatles, imitation is the highest form of flattery), made me want to listen to this one on this unusually summery day here in Boston. It sounds like the kind of song that people would just wander into a park and pick out on a guitar, you know? By the way, speaking of the improvisatory feel of the song, Ringo is actually banging a suitcase as well as drumming. How they hit on this as their ideal percussion sound on this track, I don't know, but it's cute, right?

Anyway, now that I've bopped my head back and forth to "Words of Love" a few times, it's really high time I got back outside. You just have no idea how much Boston has earned a day like today, seriously.

"Words of Love," released in the U.K. side B track 2 of Beatles for Sale, December 4, 1964; in the U.S. side A track 6 of Beatles VI, June 14, 1965.

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