Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Beatles in the Studio -- Song 3 -- "I Saw Her Standing There"

John and Paul in Studio Two, Abbey Road 2/11/63
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 song on their very first album, "Please Please Me", released in 1963.  After the initial success of the first single, "Love Me Do" (see our post for Song 2) which became apparent shortly after it's October 1962 release, George Martin decided to follow with an album as soon as possible.  George's initial thoughts were to try to capture the raw energy of the band as they performed live.

In order to achieve that "live" sound, George initially considered recording in the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the Beatles were performing often and their power could be felt.  Ultimately though, the acoustics in the Cavern Club were not good enough so he turned to the Beatles first engineer, Norman Smith (whom John affectionately called Normal Smith), who came up with the unique solution of trying not to "isolate" each of the instruments, placing the microphones 15-20 feet away from the cabinets - not the typical recording method of the time.

And there, you have the first sign of what was to come over the next 8 years; the first innovation, the first step "outside the box".  These innovations came slowly at first, but with each album and each song, they accelerated rapidly and heavily influenced the creative environment of Rock recording.

The "Please Please Me" album sessions were amazing.  The Beatles, fresh in from a UK tour the night before, were exhausted.  John Lennon was worse than exhausted, he was flat out sick, having a sore throat and fever - relying heavily on a box of cough lozenges next to his carton of cigarettes.  Despite all this, they began at 10:00 AM in Studio Two at Abbey Road, and by 10:45 PM had finished all 11 songs for the LP!


This song was principally written by Paul McCartney in July of 1962 while returning from a concert in Southport - thinking about his 17 year old girlfriend, Iris Caldwell (who was also the sister of Rory Storm - who had Ringo Starr as his drummer on his backup group, the Hurricanes).  The song was finished with John in Paul's living room at 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool in September 1962 - John as usual helped with the final lyrics and changes needed to make the song fluid.  The bass line was inspired (actually lifted) by the song "I'm Talking about You" by Chuck Berry - note for note, according to Paul.

Studio Date:  

February 11, 1963
Recording Session for LP "PLEASE PLEASE ME"


Abbey Road Studios, London, Studio Two

Songwriting Credit:

Paul McCartney/John Lennon

Technical Personnel:

Producer:  George Martin
Sound Engineer:  Norman Smith
Assistant Engineers:  Richard Langham, A. B. Lincoln


John Lennon -- Backing Vocals, Acoustic Rhythm Guitar, Hand Claps
George Harrison -- Lead Guitar, Hand Claps
Paul McCartney -- Vocals, Bass Guitar, Hand Claps
Ringo Starr -- Drum, Hand Claps


John Lennon -- 1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri
George Harrison -- 1957 Gretsch 6128 Duo Jet
Paul McCartney -- Höfner model 500/1 "violin" bass
Ringo Starr -- Premier Mahogany Duroplastic drum set

Recording Legacy/Recording Innovation:

First attempt at re-creating the sound of a "live" rock and roll performance through microphone placement.

Recorded on Twin Track BTR3 tape recorders (two-track).  Overdubs (hand claps) accomplished by using two tape recorders.

Overdub of Hand Claps.


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