Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Beatles in the Studio -- Song 1 -- "Cry For a Shadow"

Original Polydor Cover Art
As with most of our "Beatles in the Studio" blog article series, feel free to listen to the song while you read -- a link is provided at the bottom of the page!

The Story

This is the Beatles very first professional recording session (during their 3rd trip to Hamburg) by The Beatles, and the single from the session was actually released by pop star Tony Sheridan (A British singer and Guitar player from Norwich).  Famous German producer Bert Kaempfert produced this 8 song EP, and in need of a back up band, Kaempfert chose the Beatles. Because the Beatles name was phonetically similar and often confused with the northern German dialect word "Piddle" - which is slang for penis - Kaempfert insisted that the group change their name to "The Beat Brothers", which they did. 
George with his "Futurama"
"My Bonnie" was the single from the EP, credited to Tony Sheridan, and was a rather unremarkable recording - having

been documented as reaching Number 5 on the German charts.  But our discussion will focus on "Cry For A Shadow" which was actually the first Beatles song ever professionally recorded, and released. 

The recording and release of "My Bonnie" proved to be one of the many obscure, coincidental "moments" that helped to launch the Beatles to unprecedented (and unrepeated to date) fame: young Liverpudlian Raymond Jones walked into the NEMS record store in Liverpool on October 28, 1961, and asked the manager if he had "My Bonnie" by The Beatles in stock.  The managers name was Brian Epstein, and his curiosity about the Beatles turned to infatuation and changed the lives of millions. This was one of many "little" things that occurred happenstance during the Beatles career.

Cry For a Shadow is an instrumental R & B number, and was the only song ever credited to Lennon/Harrison.  Eventually it was released in  March, 1964 (Polydor), and again in 1995 as part of the Beatles Anthology package (Apple).


"My Bonnie" - A traditional Scottish folk song, popular in the UK and eventually America.  Origin is unknown.  Evidence of the sale of sheet music for the song dates back to the 1870's.
"Cry For a Shadow" -- Originally titled "Beatle Bop", it's a tight little R & B number which is a direct result of  3 years and over 300 concerts given during their Hamburg period.  The song is likely the result of George producing a nice "Shadows" style guitar riff parody, the band backing him up, and John liking the result (it IS pretty tight).

Studio Date:  

Sunday, June 22, 1961


Friedrich-Ebert-Halle, Hamburg, Germany

Songwriting Credit:

John Lennon/George Harrison


John Lennon -- Rhythm Guitar
George Harrison -- Lead Guitar
Paul McCartney -- Bass Guitar
Peter Best -- Drums


John Lennon -- Rickenbacker 325 Capri
George Harrison -- Delicia Resonet Futurama (see photo above)
Paul McCartney -- Höfner model 500/1 "violin" bass

Recording Legacy/Recording Innovation: