Song Of The Day - 03 Aug 2008: I Saw Her Standing There


Ago 5 2008, 4h47

The Beatles / I Saw Her Standing There / Please Please Me (1) / Mar 1963

It's The Beatles Week! Day 1: The Early Years

Longtime readers will note that I have never once selected a Beatles track as a Song Of The Day! How can this be? Ignoring The Beatles for this long is only allowing the elephant in the room to get ever bigger, and 19 months after the launch of the SotD, it's time to give them their due.

I'll say right up front that I'm one of those fans of rock that agrees with all those various polls and whats-its that puts The Beatles at the top of the list as the all-time greatest band. The influence of Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison - especially collectively, but also individually - on both the world of music and upon pop culture at large is both immeasurable in breadth and and profoundly deep. There are so many other massively successful bands by any number of measures, but the fact that they influenced - and almost 50 years later CONTINUE to influence - so many artists, musicians (of ALL genres) and otherwise, all over the globe, puts them beyond reach.

To be sure: they benefitted from forming at a time in music history when there was a booming growth in a generation that was hungering for
something new, someone - or someband - that would emerge as a consolidator of all the myriad of influences and sources that had given birth to rock during those first few years. A leader that would capitalize on the young generation's desire to be swept up in the new music's energy and provide them with a rock-ing soundtrack for the decade of their coming of age.

Not that they actively and consciously thought about it that way. They all just wanted hooky, visceral thrills! But the fact that these four - and a tip of the hat to critical, influential original members Stuart Cutcliffe and Pete Best, too - that these four Liverpudlians harnessed both their own talent & charisma and the hunger of a generation so confidently, so continuously, so successfully even with all of the changes that they brought to their music... Well, the confluence of a generation's desire and their grasp of the moment virtually guarantees that their success and influence will never be surpassed.

What can I possibly say about them, their stories before the genesis, their story together, and their stories after, that hasn't been said? Nothing, of course. I'm no expert and just a hack in this little corner of cyberspace. It would take much longer than a week just to do justice to a surface scratch, let alone try to salute them effectiely. So I'll only tell my own thoughts and highlight a few of my favorites from the band collectively (three days) and individually (the other four).

For the bulk of my life, The Beatles were both present everywhere and absent. I have boomer parents, so of course there were Beatles albums in the house and the music was on the radio. I grew up hearing it, but it was always just sort of the "background pop culture fabric." It wasn't until I was in high school that I even knew that so many of the songs that I subconsciously recognized - Beatles and assorted solo works - were all related to each other. Each day I'll post up one personal Beatles-related story, as well as additional favorite tracks and a "suggested bonus material."

August is a particularly good month to take a first look back at the music and history of The Beatles. So many milestones occurred during August, but it's a month especially notable for beginnings: The Quarry Men made their Cavern Club debut on Aug 7, 1957. The Beatles played their first Hamburg gig at the Indra Club on Aug 17, 1960, and then began their residency at the Cavern Club on August 2, 1961. Each day I'll post up one "This Day in Beatles History."

Of special note I want to highlight the 18-hour Beatles Marathon which occurs this coming Thursday from 7AM (U.S. ET) through 1AM Friday on local Cleveland college radio station WBWC. (You may have noted the highlight of the summer marathons on that station in my sidebar.) This one is sort of the crown jewel of the marathons, and they've been running it every summer since 1981. If you're even a mild, sorta fan of The Beatles, tune in (you can stream it here if you're outside Cleveland) and you won't be disappointed because the guys that do it really know their stuff. Giveaways, too!

Story of the Day:
I think the chief reason that I wasn't particularly interested in the music of The Beatles for so long was because it sounded so "thin" compared to the meaty 70s rock I grew up on and the 80s metal that I claimed as my own when I started my own collection. Even in college, when your music horizons expand through exposure to new ideas and the music of a much broader spectrum of friends, I still found their music to sound a bit too, ah, irrelevant to my own experience and preferences. They were boomer music, for one thing. A couple of strummed guitars, a bass, and a ridiculously small drum "kit" seemed beyond old school to me: it was, in fact, outdated in my lame opinion. (I cringe as I view how impossibly narrow-minded that assumption looks in print...) They seemed to have a few cool songs that were kinda interesting from those later years when they used some interesting layered effects and weird-sounding instruments, but it was too retro for me.

Interestingly, what really sparked my interest was the toddler-hood of my own daughters. On a whim I picked up a copy of 1 when my oldest daughter was just a couple of years old because I thought it would be good to have "Yellow Submarine" since I had liked it when I was young (more on that another day). Not long afterward was the frenzy over the publication of The Beatles Anthology, which I picked up from the library. An interesting page-through at the time, but when your kids are that young there's no time to ever read (still so little now). Then I caught the documentaries Imagine: John Lennon awhile back and The U.S. vs. John Lennon last summer (August, natch!) on television, and the hook was set.

Going back to Anthology and other items that I'll post as "suggested bonus material" after that, and my eyes and ears were opened: these
guys were so cool, so damn funny, so interesting, talented, and groundbreaking. They did all that in the span of 10 years? And then some really other interesting stuff on their own in the decade after? A lot of that second decade stuff which I had heard in that first decade of my own life, without realizing how it was all tied together? And once I took the time to put all the music on and really listen: to hear where so many elements or rock music really started, and also to hear how the music changed over their years together based on their shared experiences, their personal life experiences, the response to the tragedies and personal relationships, and their growing apart. The music alone is an incredible story, and the backstory behind it is so amazing that I think it would be very difficult not to be impressed by it. I guess that's a typical "music appreciation" experience, and it's so easy with The Beatles because there's so much to draw upon.

Selection of the Day:
As the opening track on their debut album, this is an obvious place to start the week and typical of the sound that I used to think was so "thin" in their music. It's no surprise that the early songs sound thin because they were intentionally written for the teen pop single "meat" market.

Lennon himself considered them shallow, preferring at the time to put himself and his thoughts & feelings into his poems and short stories rather than the songs, saying, "the words were almost irrelevant."

The sound is decidely in the style of their influences at the time, especially Buddy Holly. (So much so that the very name of the band was proposed by Sutcliffe as a spin off on Buddy Holly's backing band, The Crickets. The spelling originally started as The Beatals before going through several variations until being settled on in another August milestone in 1960.)

Written by John and Paul and recorded the following February, this song was laid out during the peak years of their dual residencies between Liverpool and Hamburg. It shows how their early years - especially the eight-hour shows in the Hamburg clubs - were really about defining their sound and refining their chops.

Paul and John work on today's selection in September 1962, sitting by the fireplace in the McCartney home in Forthlin Road with a Liverpool Institute exercise book open on the floor in front of them. Photographed by Paul's brother Mike. (

Not all of the first songs from this time made it onto records. The first song that Lennon & McCartney ever wrote, "Too Bad About Sorrows" was never recorded by them. But this one certainly was tested by fire at gigs in both cities, and yet was never released as a single in England. In the US, it was released as the B-side of their first hit here, I Want to Hold Your Hand, and was played on both Ed Sullivan appearances.

Fittingly perhaps, the last song Lennon performed for a paid audience was this one, played when he took the stage at an Elton John concert at Madison Square Garden on November 28, 1974. The recording of that performance was released as the B-side of Philadelphia Freedom in 1975.

Additional Favorite Tracks
Other personal favorite tracks from this early era include:
I Should Have Known Better
If I Fell
Tell Me Why
No Reply
I'll Follow the Sun

This Day in Beatles History: August 3, 1963 - The Beatles play their final gig at The Cavern Club - exactly two years and one day after their residency began there. It was their (incredible) 274th gig there, but by this time, they had two Number 1 singles and a Number 1 album, and they had outgrown the place in every sense. They hadn't played Liverpool for two months and not the Cavern for four, and tickets sold out in just 30 minutes a couple of weeks prior. No set list exists which captures the run down of the show, and there were no show reports on it, because it was just another Beatles show at the Cavern - no one realized the significance at the time. It was so hot that night that the lights blew more than once. After they finished their show, they were gone for good: lights out on their Cavern years!

Bonus Material: Movie Night with A Hard Day's Night! If you like the early period of The Beatles, then you must certainly like their film debut made at the height of Beatlemania! We celebrated the start of Beatles week by watching our copy of the 2002 collector's edition, and it's always a joy to see them truly enjoying themselves and their puckish humor to the fullest extent, back in the day when the music was all delights and they were always smiling, before all the scowls and exhausted, haggard looks of the latter days. Ironically, in a review on August 7, 1964, Time magazine dismissed the movie as "rubbish to be avoided at all costs," and yet Time now ranks the movie as one of the 100 Best All-Time Films!

\m/ (`°_°´) \m/

*(Damn! I've been planning this one for a few months and really wanted to get this kicked off on time, but I just can't seem to get here more than every other day lately, and now a cold on top of it all. Well, I hope you all will enjoy this as much as I am!)


  • sablespecter

    Hang in there! I'll be getting to Help! and Rubber Soul as part of the "Middle Years" review which I'll get up on Thursday (later today actually since it's after midnight), but is actually the Wednesday post! Does that make sense? Just too much going on now and such a BIG week, so I'm just a full day behind now. Cobbler's children need shod, if you get my drift! And I got my main PC all fixed tonight (another reason I'm soo behind), so on Saturday as I conclude the week, you'll be able to see into my Beatles collection, cuz they're gonna be the only thing scrobbling that day!

    Ago 7 2008, 5h04
  • bubblegirl_82

    Hi! I saw one one of your journals in the Gary Moore page and decided to stop by..... I have to say that to me The Beatles were just a bunch of kids that happened to be at the right place in the right moment, but never the less it's interesting to read what you have to say about them. My dad worships them, so I grew up listening to their music and well.... anyway, good journal, keep it up!

    Ago 9 2008, 15h44
  • capricarius

    BEATLES WEEK! :D I personally love their first album. Sure it's a really safe album and it may not be as great as Abbey Road, but I can't get enough of that opening track. That infectious count to 4 at the very beginning gets me every time. Besides, it's also got "P.S. I Love You" sigh. "Boys" is also a great track - but I can't stand that "bop shoo op" stuff haha.

    Set 18 2008, 16h34
  • capricarius

    BTW, this is one of the few songs that I can sing at the top of my lungs in the car with the windows down with very little shame. [i]Well my heart went boom When I crossed that room And I held her hand in miiiiiiiiiine[/i]

    Set 18 2008, 16h42
  • sablespecter

    The song I probably sing to more than any other is I Should Have Known Better. And I really love the scene in [i]A Hard Day's Night[/i] that morphs from them playing cards in the boxcar into an impromptu performance: [youtube][/youtube]

    Set 22 2008, 4h40
Ver todos os 7 comentários
Deixe um comentário. Faça login na ou cadastre-se agora (é gratuito).