Every Little Thing (Beatles song)

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This article is about the Beatles song. For other songs, see Every Little Thing (disambiguation).
"Every Little Thing"
Song by the Beatles from the album Beatles for Sale
Published Northern Songs
Released 4 December 1964 (1964-12-04)
Recorded 29–30 September 1964,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Rock
Length 2:01
Label Parlophone
Writer(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin

"Every Little Thing" is a song by the English rock group the Beatles from their 1964 album Beatles for Sale. Credited to Lennon–McCartney, it was written mainly by Paul McCartney, although John Lennon is the lead vocalist on the recording. Rather than include the track on the North American version of Beatles for Sale (which was titled Beatles '65), Capitol Records first issued the song on the June 1965 release Beatles VI. The track is an early example of the Beatles' use of non-rock instrumentation on a recording, through the addition of timpani drum over the choruses.

Composition[edit]

Recalling the song's creation in his authorised biography, Many Years from Now (1997), McCartney says he wrote "Every Little Thing" in a music room at the London home of Jane Asher, where he was living at the time.[1][2] Other sources, citing a 1964 interview with McCartney, place the song's origins at Atlantic City in the United States, where the Beatles stopped over in late August that same year during their US tour.[3] In 1980, John Lennon told Playboy magazine that McCartney wrote the song, although he himself might have "[thrown] something in".[4] Author John Winn concludes that McCartney began the composition in London and finished it with Lennon in Atlantic City.[5]

"Every Little Thing" is a rare example of a Lennon–McCartney song in which one member of the partnership was primary composer (here McCartney) but the other sang lead vocal (here Lennon).[6][7] McCartney sings in unison with Lennon on the verses, but Lennon's vocal is more prominent.[8] McCartney sings the high harmony on the chorus.

Recording[edit]

The Beatles recorded "Every Little Thing" for their fourth studio album, Beatles for Sale, during a period when Lennon and McCartney's productivity as songwriters had suffered as a result of the band's international touring commitments.[9] In Many Years from Now, McCartney says he had intended the song to be their next single, but it "didn't have quite what was required", and was issued as an album track instead.[10][2]

The group recorded the song in four takes at EMI Studios in London on 29 September 1964, and then five more on 30 September.[11] The recording has been the source of some confusion among commentators,[8] based on McCartney's comments in 1964 that the electric guitar riff was played by Lennon, rather than by George Harrison, the band's lead guitarist.[12] In their respective line-ups for the song, authors Ian MacDonald and Kenneth Womack each credit Harrison for the lead guitar part, played on a Rickenbacker 12-string, and Lennon as the acoustic rhythm guitarist.[6][13]

The four band members enjoyed themselves on the second night – take six was aborted due to McCartney burping his vocals, and take seven was finished but ended in loud laughter.[11] "Every Little Thing" is one of the first Beatles tracks to include "exotic" instrumentation, as Ringo Starr added timpani over the choruses, punctuating the refrain with one-two flourishes.[11] In addition, musicologist Walter Everett highlights the subtle use of piano in the musical arrangement; played as an electric guitar motif by Harrison on initial takes of the song, this part provides a countermelody during the verses.[14] Along with a guitar intro, the timpani and piano appeared for the first time on take nine.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Ian MacDonald praised the "emotional depth" of "Every Little Thing" and cited this song among others as a counter-argument to the common perception of McCartney as an "emotional lightweight".[6] Richie Unterberger of AllMusic also admires the song and its "infectious chorus".[15] While considering the Lennon–McCartney compositions on Beatles for Sale to be relatively uninspired, author Mark Hertsgaard pairs "Every Little Thing" with "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" as tracks that demonstrate "how the band, thanks largely to John and Paul's extraordinary singing, could make unremarkable material sound richer than it really was".[16] Tom Ewing of Pitchfork Media describes "Every Little Thing" as a "splendid" song that is "given melodramatic thrust by Shangri-Las-style piano and bass drum". While noting the Beatles' fatigue on the album in reaction to their punishing schedule in 1964, Ewing views McCartney's narrative as "distinctly melancholy, his 'yes, I know I'm a lucky guy' sounding like an attempt to convince himself of that".[17]

In 2010, "Every Little Thing" appeared at number 91 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Beatles Songs".[18]

This song was revisited briefly during the stressful rehearsals that were recorded for the Beatles' Get Back/Let It Be project – Harrison describes it as "a good one" before starting to play the lick, McCartney joining in on vocals.

Personnel[edit]

According to Ian MacDonald[6] and Kenneth Womack:[13]

Cover versions[edit]

  • In 1969, Yes covered this song on their self-titled debut album.[15] Their cover turned the song into a grungy wall of sound with several tempo and key changes and an extended jam opening that also references the Beatles' "Day Tripper". They have played their version of the song live many times.
  • In 1986, Lou Ann Barton did a version on her EP Forbidden Tones.
  • In 2003, Peter Lipa included this song and 15 other Lennon–McCartney songs on his album Beatles in Blue(s).
  • In 2004, Martin Gordon released a cover on The Joy of More Hogwash.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Miles 1997, p. 108.
  2. ^ a b Womack 2014, p. 267.
  3. ^ Guesdon & Margotin 2013, p. 190.
  4. ^ Sheff 2000, p. 205.
  5. ^ Winn 2009, p. 273.
  6. ^ a b c d MacDonald 2005, p. 128.
  7. ^ Pollack, Alan W. (1992). "Notes on 'Every Little Thing'". soundscapes.info. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Fontenot, Robert (5 January 2015). "The Beatles Songs: 'Every Little Thing' – The history of this classic Beatles song". oldies.about.com. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  9. ^ Hertsgaard 1996, pp. 100, 105.
  10. ^ Miles 1997, p. 174.
  11. ^ a b c d Lewisohn 1988, p. 49.
  12. ^ Guesdon & Margotin 2013, pp. 190–91.
  13. ^ a b Womack 2014, pp. 267–68.
  14. ^ Everett 2001, p. 258.
  15. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie (2009). "Review of 'Every Little Thing'". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 September 2009. 
  16. ^ Hertsgaard 1996, p. 105.
  17. ^ Ewing, Tom (8 September 2009). "The Beatles Beatles For Sale". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  18. ^ Womack 2014, p. 268.

Sources[edit]