Author’s Note: As with yesterday’s post about inventions, another one of my LOVES in life is music. If you hadn’t picked this up before, I promise you–dear readers–you will be hearing more about music as we are on this journey. I hope you will enjoy my musical enthusiasm as much as I enjoy sharing it!
On November 29, 1963, The Beatles released their song “I Want to Hold Your Hand”–which would end up being the breakthrough song for them in the US and would change everything as they knew it.
Another Author’s Note: I have to take a moment and throw in a second note here. Those that know me the best know I’m not a proclaimed Beatles fan. Sure…the songs are ok. I’ve always enjoyed them a little. Actually, my mom used to play them ALL the time. I’ve been listening to their songs the entire time I’ve been writing this, and it turns out I really do enjoy pretty much every song I can access. I think I stubbornly decided the music was too old or too outdated, without realizing I do–in fact–enjoy their music more than I thought! I figured I had to state this to really do this topic justice. 🙂
♬ ♬ The Beginning ♬ ♬
I’m pretty sure you have to have been living under a rock in the US and/or most of the world if you have never heard of the Beatles.
Let’s just say someone out there has. Rocks can be cozy. Who am I to judge? Just kidding. I love history. This is a history blog. Here is a little history behind the Beatles.
John Lennon was the one that started the group.
According to beatles-history.net, Lennon’s first band was called the Quarrymen. In the group, they didn’t have a guitar player until a few years later when Lennon was introduced to Paul McCartney after a performance. McCartney played a little for Lennon, and it was a done deal. These were young kids–Lennon was only 17 and McCartney was a mere 15 when they joined forces. (This was in 1957.) –link to beatles-history.net
A year later, in 1958, a younger George Harrison–who “idolized John” and was friends with McCartney due to their shared love of guitar playing–was persistent enough in asking to play that they let him fill in as a guitarist once when another member of the Quarrymen was unable to play. This led to them adding Harrison to the group permanently.
Interesting Fact: There were originally 5 members of the Quarrymen–John Lennon, Pete Shotton, Eric Griffiths, Colin Hanton, and Len Garry.
A few years later, Paul McCartney was added to the group (1957).
Later the next year (1958), George Harrison was added to the group.
However, by 1959, all of the members of the group had left except Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison. They had to scrounge up a drummer whenever & wherever they could find one.–link to beatles-history.net
In 1960, they asked Stuart Sutcliffe to join the group as a bass guitarist, “even though he had no musical training whatsoever.”–beatles-history.net.
They asked a drummer, Pete Best, to fill in occasionally.
This rounded out the initial group. They changed their band name several different times before picking “The Beatles.”
By 1961, Sutcliffe had left The Beatles, which left the group with Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Best as the members. However, it is speculated that Pete Best didn’t fit in with the rest of the band and there were hard feelings involved. He was let go in 1962.
Ringo Starr (real name Richard Starkey) had filled in for Pete Best a few times, and was asked to replace Best as the drummer of The Beatles in August of 1962. This made the final group John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.
The Beatles had been rejected by several different record companies and were discouraged. However, their manager–Brian Epstein–was persistent! The Beatles auditioned for Parlophone–a small division of EMI Records–in June of 1962, and signed a record deal on September 4, 1962.
They recorded a couple of songs in September of 1962, namely “Love Me Do/ P.S. I Love You” and “How Do You Do It?” In 1963, they recorded “Please Please Me.”
♬ ♬ The Song ♬ ♬
“The Beatles started recording “I Want to Hold Your Hand” at EMI Studios in Studio 2 on 17 October 1963 in seventeen takes. This song, along with the single’s flip side, “This Boy“, was the first Beatles song to be recorded with four-track technology. The two songs were recorded on the same day, and each needed seventeen takes to complete. Mono and stereo mixing was done by George Martin on 21 October 1963; further stereo mixes were done on 8 June 1965, for compilations released by EMI affiliates in Australia and the Netherlands, and on 7 November 1966.“–link to Wikipedia article
The Beatles released “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on November 29, 1963. In the UK, The Beatles were a hit. Another one of their songs, “She Loves You,” was the current UK #1 hit. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” had to settle for the #2 spot on the UK charts for two weeks before it claimed the #1 title. The song “stayed at number one for five weeks and remained in the UK top fifty for twenty-one weeks in total.” –link to Wikipedia article
According to the Wikipedia article, Capitol records didn’t want “I Want to Hold Your Hand” released in the US. They had refused to be the record company for the group until around late 1963. They finally joined on, and worked on a $40,000 marketing campaign for the song. They planned to release the song mid-January of 1964 because they wanted it timed with The Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
However, one particular fan had another idea. 14-year-old Marsha Albert loved the song and wrote to radio station deejay James Carroll to play the song. Carroll got a copy of the song from the UK and began to not only play it, but to share it with friends at other radio stations.
“Capitol threatened to seek a court order banning airplay of “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, which was already being spread by James to a couple of DJs in Chicago and St. Louis. James and WWDC ignored the threat, and Capitol came to the conclusion that they could well take advantage of the publicity, releasing the single two weeks ahead of schedule on 26 December.”–link to Wikipedia article
“By December 26th, 1963, there could hardly be found a popular radio station in the US that wasn’t playing “I Want To Hold Your Hand” as well as it’s flip side “I Saw Her Standing There.” Shortly thereafter, radio stations were playing any other Beatles song they could get their hands on, such as their three unsuccessful singles released earlier in 1963. “–beatlesbooks.com
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” was the first Beatles song to be a US hit. They had released a couple other songs–“Love Me Do” and “She Loves You”–in the US, but they weren’t at all successful, according to an article on songfacts.com. –link to songfacts.com. Although the song had been released in November of 1963, it didn’t hit the #1 spot on the US charts until February of 1964. The success of this song hitting the #1 spot on the US charts is what inspired The Beatles to come to America for the first time to celebrate.
The Beatles performed “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on their first 2 appearances on the Ed Sullivan show–on February 9, 1964 and February 16, 1964. According to songfacts.com, The Beatles were booked before they had a US hit, so they were paid far less than other celebrities appearing on this show.
♬ ♬ Interesting Facts About the Song ♬ ♬
Songfacts.com had the following interesting facts to report about “I Want to Hold Your Hand:”
- “Bob Dylan thought the line “I can’t hide” was “I get high,” and a reference to marijuana. He was surprised to learn they had never tried pot, and became part of Beatles lore when he introduced them to it.”
- “Two parody groups made answer songs to this in 1964: “I’ll Let You Hold My Hand” by The Bootles and “Yes, You Can Hold My Hand” by The Beatlettes.”
- “This was played on a Washington, D.C. radio station before it was released in America by a DJ who got the record from a stewardess. It was a huge hit with his listeners.”
Other interesting facts:
- “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was one of only two songs to be recorded in another language (German). The other song was “She Loves You.” (Source: Wikipedia)
- This song had been greatly marketed and, by the time it was released, there were over a million advance orders for the song. (Source: Wikipedia)
- The American single’s front and back sleeves featured a photograph of the Beatles with Paul McCartney holding a cigarette. In 1984, Capitol Records airbrushed out the cigarette for the re-release of the single. (Source: Wikipedia)
- Originally, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was on a record where the B side was “This Boy.” It was later put on a record with the song “I Saw Her Standing There” on the B side.
♬ ♬ Covers and Use in Pop Culture ♬ ♬
I found this too interesting not to share:
- In 1964, Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops Orchestra recorded an instrumental version, which rose to number 55 in the American charts.
- In 1969, soul singer Al Green covered the song.
- In 1975, American band Sparks released a cover as a single. It was included as a bonus track on the 1996 Island re-release ofIndiscreet.
- In 1980, British pop duo Dollar had a UK Top 10 hit with their cover, included on the re-release of their debut album Shooting Stars(1979).
- In 1982, Funk band Lakeside covered the song as a ballad and became a Top Ten R&B hit.
- In 1996, Puerto Rican singer Manny Manuel covered the song in Spanish as “Dame tu mano y ven” on the compilation album Tropical Tribute to the Beatles. This version peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart. Manuel’s cover led to McCartney receiving a BMI Latin Award in 1997.—–link to Wikipedia article
♬ ♬ Meaning of the Song ♬ ♬
I thought as I researched this song, that I’d find a cool story and some deep meaning behind this pop love song. Nope. Not really. According to performingsongwriter.com, the song was written because their manager–Brian Epstein–wanted a catchy song that would help the group break into the American music scene. That’s it. No other real meaning aside from the sweet love lyrics.
♬ ♬ Reception & Performances ♬ ♬
According to Wikipedia, the song was “dismissed by some critics as nothing more than another fad song that would not hold up to the test of time. Cynthia Lowery of the Associated Press expressed her exasperation with Beatlemania by saying of the Beatles: “Heaven knows we’ve heard them enough. It has been impossible to get a radio weather bulletin or time signal without running into ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’.”
However, it would soon be proven that Beatlemania was here and it was here to stay. This sensation spread across Europe and America with rapid speed not seen before. Not only did other British artist enjoy great US success in the years following 1964, but all of music seemed to be going through a renaissance of innovation.
♬ ♬ Legacy of the Song ♬ ♬
It can be argued that The Beatles’ song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” sparked a revolution in music that–for the first time ever–was spearheaded by youth. Prior to this, music was for the older generation. Music was liked because your parents liked it and played it.
In a sense, we can relate the hype of youth driving music popularity to our day today in so many ways. Just picture the screaming throngs of preteens and teens at any boy band concert. As you roll your eyes, try to picture the horror on the parents of the 60s, considering this was technically the first boy band. They had never seen a craze like this–EVER!
The success of the Beatles still rings today–and I believe it’s been 40+ years since the band broke up and stopped making music. There are movies, books, tributes, etc. to The Beatles. They are mentioned in TV shows, mentioned in movies, and there was recently an entire episode of American Idol devoted to their music (not the first time a show has been devoted to their music!). –link to infoplease.com
Other fascinating ways The Beatles affected music from The Purple Clover:
- The Beatles were the first known recording artists to use the sound of electric feedback on a record. “It can be heard on the first note of “I Feel Fine,” created by plucking the A-note on McCartney’s bass.”
- “Lennon was unhappy with the way the bass sounded on record, so engineer Geoff Emerick invented an entirely new way of recording the instrument for the song “Paperback Writer.” By rewiring a large bass amp, essentially converting it into a giant microphone, he enabled them to fully capture those large sound waves coming from McCartney’s bass.”
- “The song,”A Day in the Life,” was, according to music historian Michael Campbell, “a new category of song — more sophisticated than pop … and uniquely innovative. There literally had never before been a song — classical or vernacular — that had blended so many disparate elements so imaginatively.”
- “Before The Beatles, the concept of an album full of songs was secondary to releasing singles, or 45s. They were the first band to truly focus on the idea that a full-length record could be a complete work of art.”
- “Long before MTV started playing music videos (and even longer before they stopped playing them), The Beatles were the first group to create a short, stand-alone film featuring a single song. The first video was for “Paperback Writer,” but they would do many others, as it was a much easier way to promote a new song than making personal appearances.”
- “Yet another commonplace practice today — printing lyrics on the album cover pages — was unheard of when The Beatles did it on the back of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.'”
- “Before The Beatles played Shea Stadium in New York on August 15, 1965, the world had never seen a concert performed in a stadium before.”
- “In 1968, the first live satellite broadcast of anything worldwide took place, and guess who was on? It was The Beatles performing their latest single, “All You Need Is Love.” The two-hour program was broadcast to 26 countries to over 400 million people.”
- “Producer George Martin and The Beatles tossed out the 4-track recording techniques of the time in order to add layers and layers of sound and instrumentation to their music that the world had never heard before. Before, songs were basically just live recordings of musicians playing. The Beatles changed all that.”
- “The single “Hey Jude,” at 7 minutes and 11 seconds, was the longest song ever released as a single. The success of the tune (originally entitled “Hey Jules” after John’s son, Julian), created an opportunity for other, longer songs, to succeed as well. Imagine a world where “American Pie” or “Layla” never became hits.”
- “From the first-ever use of a fade-in on “Eight Days a Week” (as opposed to the common fade-out), to the almost unheard of practice of starting a song with the chorus (on “She Loves You”), The Beatles taught a generation of musicians that just because there may be certain rules in place, doesn’t mean you can’t break them.”
- “Many artists today have their own record labels (Oasis, Prince, the White Stripes), but the Beatles’ Apple Records started the trend. Named after George Harrison’s proclivity to name every song he was working on after a type of apple, the company faced many early financial struggles.”
All items in above list are quoted from www.purpleclover.com/
In conclusion–“I Want to Hold Your Hand” may not have been the most influential or most remembered song of all The Beatles’ songs. But, it was the “breakthrough” song for the group in the US. And most of us know exactly what that breakthrough was and how it changed music forever! Happy Release Day to this song!
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