Sunday, December 5, 2010

Count-In Song Three

And now the third song from the count in video in this post (it being, of course, the first song in the video):

"I Saw Her Standing There" is the one whose count-in I was referring to when I said that one of the count-ins I included in that video was perhaps the most famous count-in ever. Nobody guessed it, though, so ... whoa. How much do you people suck, huh?

The count-in for this song is a genuine count-in (unlike the fake-o one added to Taxman); BUT (and there's always a "but") it's the count-in to take nine of the song edited on to take one:
The group recorded nine takes in the morning, just three of which were complete. Take one was judged to be the best, and that afternoon The Beatles overdubbed handclaps.
George Martin later edited in McCartney's spirited "One, two, three, FOUR" count-in from take nine. [Source]1
Who knows why Martin thought to do this? I'm just glad he did. I seem to remember that the "one-two-three" was then edited off the 45 version of the song (released in the US, not the UK), and that version began with an abrupt "FAW!!" It definitely didn't have it on the Vee-Jay album version, released in the US in 1963, to massive indifference:
Another interesting note is that the song does not have the rousing “One, Two, Three, FAAAA” countdown at the beginning of the song on the Vee Jay album.  The reason for this is, when preparing the album for release back in July of 1963, Vee Jay records thought the countdown was left in by accident.  “One doesn’t have the countdown of a song on the actual record”, Vee Jay engineers must have thought.  So they tried to edit it out from the master tapes they received from EMI Studios.  Because the edit of the countdown blended so well with the actual introduction of the music, it wasn’t possible to totally edit it out.  So, embarrassingly enough, the first thing you hear when you play the Vee Jay album is Paul McCartney yelling “FAAA.”  After all the foresight and work George Martin did to add the rousing introduction to the song, Vee Jay records once again dropped the ball. [Source]1
This is another song of Paul's with some borderline-unfortunate lyrics. "Well, she was just seventeen/ You know what I mean" — Paul was always kinda apologetic about that opening. But he felt it was better than the original opening: "Well, she was just seventeen/ And she'd never been a beauty queen". He conceded that the former was meaningless, but thought the latter merely stupid. And he thought meaningless was better than stupid.

I don't think it matters much which lyric Paul settled on, though, because the Beatles lyrics didn't really get interesting until late 1964 at the earliest. In the very early Beatle songs, there was usually maybe one thing that stood out about the lyrics2 — e.g., John's use of the two meanings of "please" in "Please Please Me" (a trick he kinda went back to with "be long/belong" in "It Won't Be Long"); or the use of the second and third persons in "She Loves You" (most love songs being of the I-love-you-you-love-me-Barney-teh-Dinosaur variety) — but beyond that, there usually wasn't anything earth-shattering going on lyrically. These were still great songs, but it was the beat and the melody and John and Paul's harmonies that made them so.

Another interesting thing about this nearly-100%-Paul composition is that it is one of the last songs that John Lennon performed live. In 1974, John recorded a song with Elton John, called "Whatever Gets You Through the Night". Elton said it had #1 written all over it. John, who at that point had never reach number 1 with a single as a  solo artist, said no way. Elton bet him it would, and said if he won the bet, John would have to perform with him on-stage live, something John hadn't done in years. John thought it was safe to take the bet.

Well, "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" went to number 1 in the fall of 1974, and John, per agreement, performed live with Elton John on Thanksgiving night, 11/28/74, at Madison Square Garden

For some reason, one of the songs they decided to do was Paul's "I Saw Her Standing There".

John's intro:
Hi. 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's I could get out of here and be sick. And we thought we'd do a number of an old estranged finacé of mine called Paul. This is one I never sang. It's an old Beatle number and we just about know it....
It's false that John "never sang" it. He sings the low harmony on the Beatles version.He never sang lead on it, which is what he appears to be singing here; there appears to be nobody singing harmony in this live version.

It's not a bad version, actually.
1 Yeah, I know I coulda done these sources as footnotes. But that's not how I use footnotes.

2 In a song like the Beatles' third single, "From Me To You", there was really nothing interesting going on lyrically. What made John and Paul consider it interesting and single-worthy, according to Paul, was that weird G+ chord in the middle eight. Most rock 'n' roll songs are based on Chuck Berry A-D-E chord progressions (in various keys) or basic C-Am-F-G progressions (in various keys); Beatles songs routinely flouted these restrictions when few others were doing so. "From Me to You" is a basic C-Am-F-G but with some experimental musical variations that keeps it interesting and fresh-sounding.


  1. I just did a whole mental book on music of 1974 and "Whatever Gets You through the Night," though not great, sure beats the hell out of George's "Dark Horse" album... and the Who's most popular was the bland "Long Live Rock," though "Boris the Spider" is my pick.

    I stopped when I came to the realization that Chicago released "VII," Poco "Seven," Bob Seger "Seven," and Soft Machine "Seven." All four albums were about as imaginative as their titles.

  2. Who knew there was so much documentation on individual songs? Or did you make this up?

  3. I love this song - one of my favorite Beatles tunes.

  4. You must be on yet another minivacation; I was expecting some comment about the Ventures and Paul Revere and the Raiders Xmas songs I posted.

    I have this routine from "The Kids in the Hall" stuck in my head, where a kid defeats a demon with the Holy Trinity of Chords: E, A & B. To the tune of "Smoke on the Water": E,A,B..EA-BA..E,A,B..B-A. [I wouldn't know if that were right or wrong.]

  5. Just discovered this gem.