Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Beatles in the Studio -- Song 6 -- "I Want To Hold Your Hand"

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:

Although Beatlemania was in full force in the UK with the success of "She Loves You", "I Want To Hold Your Hand" is the song (the single) that actually gave birth to Beatlemania in the United States.  In Great Britain alone, when the single was released, it already had prior sales of over 1 Million copies.  In the U.S. despite refusal by Capitol records to release it, the song was heard on nearly ALL American radio stations - a release by Parlophone -- which was started by the actions of Washington disc jockey Carroll James, who found the UK single and aired it at the persistent request of a young female listener.

After the first broadcast, the popularity went "viral" - no small feat prior to the computer age.  In the face of such public enthusiasm, nearly ALL radio station followed suit.  Of course the single became number 1 by January 10 after a December 26 release.  Not far behind it was the B side of the single "I  Saw Her Standing There".  The rest is history, one of the most remarkable and meteoric rises to fame and glory as has ever been told in entertainment history.  In NYC it was estimated that approximately 10,000 copies of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" were sold every HOUR.  In the end, by the time the single began to drop off the charts, it had sold more than 5 million copies.

The Beatles first American tour was quickly planned and organized for February, 1964, including the booking of the Ed Sullivan show.


This song that really launched the meteoric career of the Beatles was actually written the night before it's recording, on the evening of October 16, 1963, in the little music room at the Asher family home (Paul's actress girlfriend) at 57 Wimpole Street in London.  John and Paul both were sitting at the family piano at the same time, and they hammered out the simple melody.  Eyeball to Eyeball writing.

Studio Date:  

October 17, 1963


Abbey Road Studios, London, Studio Two

Songwriting Credit:

John Lennon/Paul McCartney


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


Producer: -- George Martin
Engineer: -- Norman Smith
Asst. Engineer: -- Geoff Emerick

The Beatles relied on using their stage gear for this recording:

John Lennon -- 1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri
George Harrison -- 1957 Gretsch 6128 Duo Jet
Paul McCartney -- Höfner model 500/1 "violin" bass

Recording Legacy/Recording Innovation:

This was the Beatles first recording using a 4 track recorder (Telefunken T9u and M10 recorders).  They were able to record the rhythm first, then concentrate on the vocals - and finish with the trademark "Hand Clapping" in a joyous atmosphere (you can really hear the smiles in the claps).  The 4 track machines allowed a level of composition/creation in the studio (rather than try to move through a complete song in 1 take) -- the Beatles were soon to take advantage of this and bring studio recording and the level of creativity possible in a studio to new heights.


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