Friday, March 11, 2011

"I Saw Her Standing There"

"I Saw Her Standing There" is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and is the opening track on the The Beatles' debut album Please Please Me, released in the United Kingdom by Parlophone on 22 March 1963.

In December 1963, Capitol Records released the song in the United States as the B-side on the label's first single by The Beatles, "I Want to Hold Your Hand". The single topped the U.S. charts for seven weeks starting 18 January 1964. "I Saw Her Standing There" entered the Billboard Hot 100 on 8 February 1964, remaining there for 11 weeks, peaking at number 14. In 2004, the song was ranked #139 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.


The song was a Lennon and McCartney collaboration based on McCartney's original idea. Initially titled "Seventeen", the song was apparently conceived by McCartney whilst driving home from a Beatles concert in Southport, Merseyside and later completed at his Forthlin Road home in September 1962 with Lennon, while the two were playing truant from school. It was typical of how Lennon and McCartney would work in partnership, as McCartney later commented: "I had 'She was just seventeen,' and then 'Beauty queen'. When I showed it to John, he screamed with laughter, and said 'You're joking about that line, aren't you?'" "It was one of the first times he ever went 'What? Must change that...'" The lyrics were written on a Liverpool Institute exercise book. Remember, a book by McCartney's brother Mike McCartney, includes a photograph of Lennon and McCartney writing the song while strumming guitars and reading the exercise book. McCartney admits to lifting his bass line directly from a Chuck Berry song called "I'm Talking About You" (1961).

The songwriting credit on the Please Please Me liner notes is "McCartney/Lennon" which differs from the more familiar "Lennon/McCartney" that appears on subsequent releases.


The song was recorded at Abbey Road Studios on 11 February 1963, as part of the marathon recording session that produced 10 of the 14 songs on Please Please Me. The Beatles were not present for the mixing session on 25 February 1963, which was not unusual at that time.

On the album, the song starts with a rousing "one, two, three, FOUR!" count-in by McCartney (pronounced "one, two, three, FAH!"). Usually, these count-ins are edited off the final audio mix. However, this was left on by record producer George Martin, as it was considered especially spirited, and began the album in an upbeat vein. Music journalist, Richard Williams, suggested that this dramatic introduction to their debut album was just as stirring as Elvis Presley's "Well, it's one for the money, two for the show…" on his opening track, Blue Suede Shoes, for his debut album seven years earlier. In addition it also made the point that The Beatles were a performing band as, at that time, they opened their live set with this song (however, by listening to outtakes of the song one can hear that the count-in is actually from take 9, while the master take is take 1; the former was not preceded by a loud count-in). Martin had initially contemplated recording the Please Please Me LP live at the Cavern in front of their own audience and visited the Liverpool club to experience The Beatles phenomenon for himself. But when time constraints intervened it was decided to book them into the Abbey Road studios instead.


* British LP: Please Please Me
* British EP: The Beatles (No. 1)
* American LP: Introducing... The Beatles
* American LP: Meet The Beatles!


* Paul McCartney – vocal, bass, handclaps
* John Lennon – backing vocal, rhythm guitar, handclaps
* George Harrison – lead guitar, handclaps
* Ringo Starr – drums, handclaps

Critical acclaim

Carr and Tyler, in The Beatles: An Illustrated Record, claimed it was only the third all-British rock classic up to that time, the previous two being Cliff Richard's "Move It" and Johnny Kidd's "Shakin' All Over."

Cover versions

A 1974 live version was released as a duet by Lennon and Elton John as the B-side to the latter's "Philadelphia Freedom" single. The song is available on the Lennon Box Set, and on Elton John's To Be Continued... box set as well as the expanded CD edition of his 1976 live album Here and There. Lennon's introduction:
“ I'd like to thank Elton and the boys for having me on tonight. We tried to think of a number to finish off with so I can get out of here and be sick, and we thought we'd do a number of an old, estranged fiancé of mine, called Paul. This is one I never sang, it's an old Beatle number, and we just about know it. ”

McCartney included "I Saw Her Standing There" on his live albums Tripping the Live Fantastic (1990), Back in the U.S. (2002) and Back in the World (2003). In 1987, he recorded a new version for his album CHOBA B CCCP, but left it to outtakes. The song has become a mainstay of McCartney's live sets, and a special version was played when McCartney and his band returned to Liverpool in June 2008. It featured special guest drummer Dave Grohl, the lead singer of the Foo Fighters.

Other versions include:

* The Supremes recorded a version of the song under the title "I Saw Him Standing There." It was recorded during the sessions for their A Bit of Liverpool album, but remained unreleased until 2008.
* The Who filmed and recorded a version of the song for their film The Kids Are Alright; Keith Moon sang the lead vocal. However, this was not released on the film or soundtrack album, and has only been available on bootleg recordings. The Who also performed the song on their 1982 Farewell Tour, with John Entwistle on lead vocal, including a performance at Shea Stadium.
* Daniel Johnston covered "I Saw Her Standing There" on his album Continued Story/Hi How Are You?
* In 1988, Tiffany released "I Saw Him Standing There" as a single and as a track on her self-titled debut album.
* Santo & Johnny did a version (which features steel guitar) on an LP of Beatle songs.
* In 1977, The Tubes covered "I Saw Her Standing There" on their live CD What Do You Want From Live.
* Carmaig de Forest recorded an acoustic version of "I Saw Her Standing There" in his own kitchen in 1991. Halfway through the song, it turns into his own composition "Julie Among the Redwoods", but reverts back to "I Saw Her Standing There" in the end.
* Peter Grant recorded a Jazz version on his debut album New Vintage released in 2006.
* The Punkles did a Punk cover on their first Album "Beat The Punkles".
* Allister released a cover version on the Japanese-only EP, Guilty Pleasures.
* In 1991, Mexican singer Mimí recorded a Spanish version of this song called "Te Ví Parado Ahí" and included it on her self-titled debut album.
* Serbian doo wop band Vampiri recorded a version with lyrics in Serbian language entitled "Poziv na ples" ("Dance Invitation"), on their 1993 album Bebe.
* N.E.R.D's Pharrell Williams appeared at the 2004 Grammy Awards, performing the song on drums with Sting, Dave Matthews and Vince Gill.
* Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis on Jerry Lee Lewis's 2006 CD Last Man Standing.
* Jerry Garcia recorded the song on his Run For The Roses album, 1982.

In popular culture

In the 1988 Motion Picture Rain Man, the song is sung by the titular character (portrayed by Dustin Hoffman) to his younger brother Charlie.

The CBS sitcom Petticoat Junction featured it as a performance on March 24, 1964 by an all-girl group "The Ladybugs." Two nights earlier the cast members, in Ladybugs character, also performed the song on 'The Ed Sullivan Show.'

Album: Please Please Me
Released: 22 March 1963
Recorded: Abbey Road Studios, 11 February 1963
Genre: Beat
Length: 2:55
Label: Parlophone
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin

B-side to "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
Released: 26 December 1963 (U.S.)
Length: 2:55
Label: Capitol 5112 (U.S.)


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