Ain't She Sweet

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"Ain't She Sweet?"
Song
LanguageEnglish
Written1927
Songwriter(s)Composer: Milton Ager
Lyricist: Jack Yellen

"Ain't She Sweet" is a song composed by Milton Ager, with lyrics by Jack Yellen. It was published in 1927 by Edwin H. Morris & Co. Inc./Warner Bros. It became popular in the first half of the 20th century and typified the Roaring Twenties. Like "Happy Days Are Here Again" (1929), it became a Tin Pan Alley standard. Both Ager and Yellen were elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Milton Ager wrote "Ain't She Sweet" for his daughter Shana Ager,[citation needed] who in her adult life was known as the political commentator Shana Alexander.

Recorded versions[edit]

"Ain't She Sweet" was also recorded by Fabian Forte, Hoosier Hot Shots, Ray Anthony, Nat King Cole, Tiny Hill , The Playboys, The Viscounts, and Frankie Lymon. The song was also covered in 1990 on the album Funk of Ages by Bernie Worrell and several former members of Parliament-Funkadelic.

Versions by the Beatles[edit]

"Ain't She Sweet"
Nobody's child.PNG
The 1964 American single release of the song, backed with "Nobody's Child"
Single by the Beatles
B-side
Released29 May 1964 (1964-05-29) (UK)
  • 6 July 1964 (US)
Recorded22 or 24 June 1961[nb 1]
StudioFriedrich-Ebert-Halle, Hamburg[nb 2]
GenreRock
Length2:10
Label
Songwriter(s)Milton Ager Composer
Jack Yellen Lyricist
Producer(s)Bert Kaempfert
The Beatles UK singles chronology
"Can't Buy Me Love"
(1964)
"Ain't She Sweet"
(1964)
"A Hard Day's Night"
(1964)
The Beatles US singles chronology
"Sie liebt dich"
(1964)
"Ain't She Sweet"
(1964)
"A Hard Day's Night"
(1964)

The Beatles regularly performed the song live from 1957 to 1962.[3][nb 3] According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, "John [Lennon] may have known the song through his mother; he certainly knew it from Gene Vincent's 1956 recording on the LP Bluejean Bop!"[8] In The Beatles as Musicians, Walter Everett offers a similar assessment, writing simply that it was "based on Gene Vincent's record."[9] Musicologist and writer Ian MacDonald also agrees with this view.[10] Lewisohn further notes that, "John Lennon's vocal rendition was different from Vincent's, it would seem that he arranged his own unique version... He may have also been influenced by Duffy Power's 1959 version".[11] In the Beatles' Anthology book, McCartney recalls that, "Songs like 'Till There Was You' and 'Ain't She Sweet' would be the late-night cabaret material. They showed that we weren't just another rock'n'roll group."[12][nb 4]

Recording[edit]

On June 22 or 24, 1961,[nb 1] during their first ever professional recording session, the Beatles recorded a cover of "Ain't She Sweet".[9][17] Recorded at the Friedrich-Ebert-Halle[nb 2] in Hamburg, Germany, produced by Bert Kaempfert and engineered by Karl Hinze, the session saw the Beatles backing Tony Sheridan.[16] George Harrison later recalled that the group misunderstood the purpose of the recording session and only learned upon arrival that they would be backing Sheridan.[21] Harrison further added, "It was a bit disappointing because we'd been hoping to get a record deal as ourselves."[22] "Ain't She Sweet" was one of two songs recorded without Sheridan[nb 5] with Lennon instead on lead vocal.[9][16] In 1968, Lennon reflected, "We thought it would be easy: the Germans had such shitty records, ours was bound to be better."[24] MacDonald surmised that the Beatles decided to record a cover to save their stronger originals, such as McCartney's "Like Dreamers Do" and Lennon's "Hello Little Girl".[25]

In a 1975 radio interview, Lennon explained that Gene Vincent's cover was "very mellow and very high pitched, and I used to do it like that, but they said harder, harder—you know, Germans all want it a bit more like a march—so we ended up doing a harder version of it."[26] Lewisohn remarks that Lennon "gives it a good and powerful go, but there's a strange timbre to his voice, as if he was suffering from 'Hamburg throat' while also straining to deliver Kaempfert's brittle sound on a song that didn't suit it."[26] Everett describes Lennon's singing style as "very detached, slightly hiccuping"[9] and notes his use of a mordent for emphasis.[9] Lewisohn further evaluated that Pete Best's drumming "lacks imagination"[26] and McCartney's "bass is accomplished."[26] Harrison's guitar solo "judged even in its place and time... wasn't good."[26] Everett comments that, "as a whole, these recordings are hardly representative of the future Beatles."[9] MacDonald judges it similarly, writing, "...it ["Ain't She Sweet"] made little sense as a choice for the Beatles' first professional recording and fails to reward attention in hindsight."[10] In The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles, Howard Kramer writes that the session was "musically unspectacular" and "the Beatles' instrumental backing shows competence, but little more."[27]

Release[edit]

After the session, the Beatles expected that a single of "Ain't She Sweet" b/w "Beatle Bop" would be released in America, Germany and Britain in the weeks that followed.[28] It was not until October 23, 1961 that a single was released in West Germany exclusively, except it was instead "My Bonnie" b/w "The Saints", credited as "Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers".[29][nb 6] The Liverpool music newspaper Mersey Beat reported that the Beatles were dissatisfied with "Ain't She Sweet" and "Cry For A Shadow" and so sold their rights back to Kaempfert's company, Bert Kaempfert Produktion (BKP).[31] Polydor's first worldwide release of "Ain't She Sweet" was on the February 1964 French EP, Les Beatles [fr].[32] Polydor released it in the U.K. as a single on May 29, 1964 b/w "If You Love Me, Baby", a mistitling of the Jimmy Reed song "Take Out Some Insurance".[33] On July 6, 1964 ATCO Records released the track as a single in America b/w the Hank Snow song "Nobody's Child".[34][35] In August 1964, the song peaked at number 19 on the US Billboard Hot 100[36] and at number 4 on Sweden's Kvällstoppen Chart.[37] It was the highest-charting Beatles single with original drummer Pete Best.[citation needed] The Beatles were neither paid nor owed royalty payments for the release.[31] The track has been included on several releases, including Ain't She Sweet (1964),[34][38] The Beatles' First (1964)[39] and In the Beginning (Circa 1960) (1970).[40] The Beatles included the recording on the 1995 compilation album Anthology 1.[16][41]

On July 24, 1969 during a recording session for "Sun King"/"Mean Mr. Mustard", Lennon began an impromptu jam of "Ain't She Sweet" along with the other Gene Vincent songs, "Who Slapped John?" and "Be-Bop-a-Lula".[42] Lewisohn remarked that this version was more in the style of Gene Vincent than the Beatles' original 1961 version.[43] The Beatles included this version of "Ain't She Sweet" on the 1996 compilation album Anthology 3.[3][43]

Personnel[edit]

According to Ian MacDonald:[16]

The Beatles

Charts and certifications[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1964) Peak
position
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[44] 20
Swedish Kvällstoppen Chart[45] 4
UK Singles (OCC)[46] 29
US Billboard Hot 100[47] 19

Film appearances[edit]

TV appearances[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Walter Everett dates the session as June 22–24[9] and "Ain't She Sweet" in particular as the 24th.[14]
    Ian MacDonald dates the session as "June 22–23(?)"[15] and the song as the 22nd.[16]
    Mark Lewisohn dates the entire session as the 22nd, but offers the possibility of the 23rd.[17] He writes, "No document survives to detail the start/finish times, the order of work, number of required takes, and whether the session took place over one day or two—most likely it was one, and personal recollections refer to it that way, but some papers show it as two, June 22 and 23."[18] He also writes, "The recording of seven titles was easily achievable in one session so perhaps the second date was solely for editing, without Sheridan and the Beatles present."[19]
    Audio expert Richard Moore notes that some of the songs recorded have a different "stereo picture", suggesting an alternate set-up across sessions or replacement equipment being brought in to a session.[20]
  2. ^ a b Mark Lewisohn and Ian MacDonald both cite Friedrich-Ebert-Halle as the recording location.[16][17] Walter Everett writes the recordings were split between Friedrich-Ebert-Halle on June 22–23 and the adjoining orchestral hall Studio Ralstedt on June 24.[9] He writes "Ain't She Sweet" was recorded on June 24.[14]
  3. ^ In an early 1960 letter Paul McCartney wrote to get a booking, he mentions "Ain't She Sweet" as a staple of The Quarrymen's act, amongst other numbers.[4] They possibly played the song in a July 1960 show.[5] A setlist of songs written in one of Stuart Sutcliffe's 1960 art sketchbooks includes the song.[6] A setlist from August 1962 includes the song with Lennon on lead vocal.[7]
  4. ^ McCartney further recalled, "The gigs went up in stature and though the pay went up only a little bit, it did go up. We were now playing better places. We would still do our rock act, though we wouldn't get decent money for any gig apart from cabaret. I could pull out 'Till There Was You' or 'A Taste of Honey'—the more cabaret things—and John would sing 'Over the Rainbow' and 'Ain't She Sweet'. These did have cred for us because they were on a Gene Vincent album and we didn't realise 'Rainbow' was a Judy Garland number; we thought it was Gene Vincent, so we were happy to do it."[13]
  5. ^ The other being the instrumental "Cry for a Shadow",[9] originally titled "Beatle Bop".[23]
  6. ^ McCartney later recalled: "They didn't like our name and said, 'Change to The Beat Brothers; this is more understandable for the German audience.'"[22] In his memoir, Pete Best claims the name was changed because "Beatles" was too close to a Hamburg slang term for male genitalia.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  2. ^ "Frank Sinatra Discography". jazzdiscography.com. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  3. ^ a b MacDonald 2005, p. 48n1.
  4. ^ Lewisohn 2013a, pp. 236–237.
  5. ^ Lewisohn 2013b, p. 673.
  6. ^ Lewisohn 2013b, p. 694.
  7. ^ Lewisohn 2013b, p. 1276.
  8. ^ Lewisohn 2013b, p. 553n.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Everett 2001, p. 95.
  10. ^ a b MacDonald 2005, p. 48.
  11. ^ Lewisohn 1992, p. 365.
  12. ^ The Beatles 2000, p. 68.
  13. ^ The Beatles 2000, p. 67.
  14. ^ a b Everett 2001, p. 376n101.
  15. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 401.
  16. ^ a b c d e f MacDonald 2005, p. 47.
  17. ^ a b c Lewisohn 2013a, p. 446.
  18. ^ Lewisohn 2013a, p. 447.
  19. ^ Lewisohn 2013b, p. 1542n77.
  20. ^ Gottfridsson (1997), quoted in Lewisohn (2013b), p. 1542n77
  21. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 47n1.
  22. ^ a b The Beatles 2000, p. 59.
  23. ^ Lewisohn 2013a, p. 450.
  24. ^ Davies (1968), p. 107, quoted in Lewisohn (2013a), p. 449, 844n53
  25. ^ MacDonald 2005, pp. 47, 47n1.
  26. ^ a b c d e Lewisohn 2013a, p. 449.
  27. ^ Kramer 2009, p. 65.
  28. ^ Lewisohn 2013a, p. 450, 844n55.
  29. ^ Lewisohn 2013a, p. 493.
  30. ^ Best & Doncaster 1985, p. 107, quoted in Ingham & Mitsui 1987, p. 273
  31. ^ a b Lewisohn 2013b, p. 916.
  32. ^ Everett 2001, p. 100.
  33. ^ "UK single release: Ain't She Sweet". The Beatles Bible. 29 May 1964. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  34. ^ a b Everett 2001, p. 214.
  35. ^ "Beatles discography: United States of America (USA)". The Beatles Bible. 25 April 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  36. ^ "The Beatles Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  37. ^ "Swedish Charts 1962–March 1966/Kvällstoppen – Listresultaten vecka för vecka > Augusti 1964" (PDF) (in Swedish). hitsallertijden.nl. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  38. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Ain't She Sweet - The Beatles". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  39. ^ Eder, Bruce. "The Beatles' First - The Beatles". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  40. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "In the Beginning - Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  41. ^ Everett 2001, p. 376n101, 378n29.
  42. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 182.
  43. ^ a b Lewisohn 2013a, p. 844n53.
  44. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4713." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  45. ^ "Swedish Charts 1962–March 1966/Kvällstoppen – Listresultaten vecka för vecka > Augusti 1964" (PDF) (in Swedish). hitsallertijden.nl. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  46. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  47. ^ "The Beatles Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 29 December 2020.

Sources[edit]