Monday, August 17, 2009

Don't Ever Change

We're getting to that time of the year when I've had to do some some math regarding how much of the year I've got left versus how many songs I've got left, and I've recently concluded that I need to expand songs that George sang beyond HarriSundays in order to fit them all in neatly. Hence today's song, a bit of an oddity from Live at the BBC-- odd in that George and Paul are singing a duet without John in the mix at all. He's just hanging out on the rhythm guitar on this one. I can't think of another time when this happened, ever, at least not on a recording that's generally available.

Isn't that a cute, catchy little number? Well, that's unsurprising, considering that it's a song by the crack songwriting team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, who wrote a ton of the world's catchiest songs: "Take Good Care of My Baby," "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "One Fine Day," "Natural Woman," and "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby," for instance-- and that's only off the top of my head. There are zillions more. They are gods. I love basically everything they did, including "Don't Ever Change," because all of their songs are so damned sing-alongable, and I am a great singer-along when at home and not in too much danger of being heard. And "Don't Ever Change" seems calculated to appeal to me specifically, and probably to a big portion of the contemporary Beatlemaniac demographic who'd be turning in to the BBC Radio shows starring their idols, too. (I am a girl who always wears jeans, even on Sundays. Oh yeah.)

The original version of "Don't Ever Change" was released in 1962 by the Crickets, who are mostly remembered today as Buddy Holly's backup band (and also the band that the Beatles named themselves in honor of, at least a little bit). But they continued to play together after Holly's death, though I don't believe they ever saw anywhere near the same success level again. In fact, this particular song never charted in the U.S. at all. It was a fairly big hit in Britain, though, which is how the Beatles would have heard it.

It always amazes me, the way that the Beatles can so emulate these other timbres, like piano and so forth, in their guitars. I mean, the introductions to these two versions sound almost exactly the same, don't they? You do hear how the drumming is different, though-- the Crickets have, perhaps, a more technically proficient drummer who's doing something more complicated in that opening fill. Ringo smoothes the beat out more and emphasizes the backbeats in a more traditional rocking kind of way.

But that aside, it's quite a faithful cover, with George valiantly trying to make his guitar tinkle as much as the piano does on the Crickets' version-- and frequently succeeding. Mostly, though, I love the vocals, because I dearly love Every Brothers-esque harmonies in thirds. I don't know, they are just awesome for me. Can't explain it. It makes the whole song sound so wholesome and country-fried and innocent somehow. And of course the lyrics, which are such adolescent expressions of affection, are as cute as can be. Sigh. I mean, I like the hard rocking stuff on Live at the BBC and elsewhere as much as anyone, as frequent readers know. But I can get into this teenybopper pop stuff too.

Most of all, though, isn't George giving us a wonderful vocal here? Paul sounds great too on the high part, but we'd expect it from Paul, for God's sake. George, though, might be gaining some confidence from his bandmate on this one, because his vocal is plenty soulful. (Not that I don't want to give him the credit he's due. Live at the BBC features plenty of tremendous Harrison vocals in which he does more than fine on his own.) The whole thing just gels beautifully, which is even more awesome considering that the band most likely didn't have "Don't Ever Change" in their repertoire for all that long when they performed it in August of 1963 for the BBC.

The more I listen to "Don't Ever Change," the more I wonder if John didn't want to sing it just because he thought it was a little too lame for his tough-guy image. You know? I can just see Paul and George duetting on this, Paul making goo-goo eyes at every girl in the Cavern while George blushes and grins in his own shyer flirtatiousness. Oh yeah. You know the girls went wild for this shit. Just like me.

"Don't Ever Change," released in the U.K. and the U.S. disc 2 track 32 of Live at the BBC, November 30, 1994.


  1. Have you heard "On Broadway: Hit Songs and Rarities From the Brill Building Era"? Has some good numbers written by Carole King.

  2. Hey, Meg. Nice new photo of you.

    Don't ya just love the Live at the BBC recordings? Can you imagine the huge hole there would be in Beatles musicology if they didn't exist?

    I wasn't able to attend Paul's Atlanta concert, but i have heard great praise from several of my friends who were able to attend. One called it the best concert he has ever seen, ever. Of course, that did little to lower my disappointment in not being able to go.

  3. No, Cullen, never-- but clearly I should check it out. I love Carole King so. Sigh.

    I'm sorry you didn't make it to see Paul, Frank! That is a bummer. Hopefully he tours again real soon-- he's getting such good reviews in general for this tour that I can't imagine why he'd stay away for long.

  4. Ah, this song! Couldn't listen to it until now. I love this song! It's an interesting dynamic, George and Paul, isn't it? Makes them sound more like Any Other Band from that time (or like Buddy Holly, I guess) than the Beatles.