Wednesday, May 13, 2009

She's a Woman

If Paul wants to write a song specifically to show off his own awesomeness, who are we to dissuade him? Especially when that song is "She's a Woman," which rocks?

I don't KNOW that he set out to write a song that would make him sound so fabulous, but if he did so, he nailed it. This whole song is driven by Paul's kickass vocal, bass, and piano, and he might have even played the guitar solo (the history is fuzzy on this point). Let's hear the results, from (once more) a 1964 broadcast of Ready, Steady, Go.

Oh, "She's a Woman," how I love you. How I love the way Paul sings it at the very highest notes of his register, so when he hits the word "love" his voice sounds like it's stretched to the breaking point. And I love it whenever Paul breaks out his Little Richard voice anyway. He could sing pretty much anything to me in this voice and I think I'd swoon. I love the tight little structure it's got. There's the straightforward bluesiness of the verse-- it's kind of a 12-bar blues but modified to be longer, I think, and the chords couldn't be simpler-- contrasted with the "she's a woman" short refrain, where very briefly it stops being bluesy and get a little more tense and rocking. And the guitars on the offbeats act like a kind of skeleton to hang Paul's virtuosity on. I love how fun and smiley the bass sounds, and I love the guitar solo no matter who's playing it-- how it's the perfect countermelody to what Paul's been singing. And I particularly love how silly the lyrics are. They've got to be some of the silliest words written for a Beatles song, which is really saying something-- but they don't matter much, so, whatever.

"She's a Woman" quickly became a fixture of their live set and stayed there right up til their last tours. These are where Paul got to really show off for the girls. For instance, here they are at NME Poll Winner's Concert in November of 1964. This one's got a particularly excellent outro with some good Paul screeching.

They did it at Shea Stadium too. Note that they've lowered the key so that Paul doesn't have to sing quite so high.

And here they are doing it in Tokyo, I think at an even LOWER key. Hell, it was 1966-- they were tired. You'll notice that at this concert in particular, George isn't doing too much except waving to the crowd.

And, sorry to exhaust you with videos, but I LOVE this video-- I have no idea where in Italy they are, but it's fun, right? Mostly I love the introduction.

Phew! That was some good "She's a Woman." LOVE it. I'll be dancing in my desk chair the rest of the day for sure.

"She's a Woman," released as a B-side to "I Feel Fine," November 27, 1964; in the U.S. November 23, 1964.


  1. Whew! I get exhausted thinking about all the times these Beatles must have performed "She's a Woman"! It's got to be in my top 5 of Beatles songs...always liked that dominant 7th thing they do through the chord changes, and definitely Paul's vocals. And I think they use that one in Hard Day's Night, nice moment...

    Tom R.

  2. The dominant 7s are wicked rad, it is true. The guitar intro is so iconic, isn't it? One of the most underrated of the iconic guitar parts, actually. Which is good because the guitars don't have a whole lot to do in the rest of the song...

  3. While the mix skews more to the bass notes on the guitars at the Shea performance, the actual key of the song is the same as the early performances/album version. They do drop the key a half-step by Tokyo, tho...