For You Blue

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"For You Blue"
Single by the Beatles
from the album Let It Be
A-side "The Long and Winding Road"
Released 11 May 1970
Recorded 25 January 1969, 8 January 1970
Apple Studio, London; Olympic Sound Studios, London
Genre Country blues[1]
Length 2:32
Label Apple
Writer(s) George Harrison
Producer(s) Phil Spector

"For You Blue" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1970 album Let It Be. The track was written by George Harrison as a love song to his wife, Pattie Boyd. It was the B-side to "The Long and Winding Road" single, issued in many countries, but not Britain, and was listed with that song when the single topped the US Billboard Hot 100 in June 1970. On the Cash Box Top 100 chart, which measured single sides individually, "For You Blue" peaked at number 71.

A light-hearted recording in the acoustic country blues style, it features John Lennon playing lap steel guitar. The song was one of seven Beatles tracks included on the 1976 compilation The Best of George Harrison. Paul McCartney performed the song at the Concert for George in November 2002, a year after Harrison's death.

Composition[edit]

George Harrison wrote "For You Blue" in late 1968[2][3] as a love song to his wife Pattie Boyd.[4] In his autobiography, I, Me, Mine, he describes the composition as "a simple twelve-bar song following all the normal principles except it's happy-go-lucky!"[5]

The song is in the key of D and is one of the few original Beatles songs in which every section follows the classic twelve bar blues (I-IV-V) pattern.[6] The bluesy feel to the song is accentuated by the addition to the blues-based minor pentatonic scale (I-flat3-4-5-flat7) of a flat7 on each of the I (D7), IV (G7) and V (A7) chords.[7] The composition consists of four verses[8] interspersed with instrumental passages.[6] In his lyrics, Harrison unashamedly states his love for Boyd; according to author Ian Inglis, "Her 'sweet and lovely' personality makes her irresistible … he now loves her 'more than ever.'"[9]

Recording[edit]

The song features John Lennon playing lap steel guitar.[10] Paul McCartney plays the piano with paper intertwined between the strings, but does not contribute bass to the song. When Phil Spector remixed the song for inclusion on the Let It Be album, he added an introduction by Lennon, "Queen says no to pot-smoking FBI members."[2] This comment was edited in from dialogue recorded at Twickenham Studios in early January 1969, long before "For You Blue" was recorded.[11]

Song name[edit]

The song's working title was "George's Blues (Because You're Sweet and Lovely)" when it was recorded on 25 January 1969.[12] It was renamed sometime between 10 March and 28 May when it was listed as "For You Blue" on the final mix for the unreleased Get Back album.[13] Lennon can be heard on the session tapes reading this title off a list of songs the Beatles had been working on, and dialogue suggests that the title was originally "For You Blues".[14] Harrison's original handwritten lyrics show the title as "For You Blues".[15]

Release[edit]

Apple Records issued the Let It Be album, with "For You Blue" sequenced as the penultimate track, on 8 May 1970.[16][17] The release came four weeks after the Beatles' break-up and shortly before the premiere of the Let It Be documentary film.[18]

The song was selected as the B-side to "The Long and Winding Road", a single released in the United States on 11 May,[19] and in many other countries. In the US, "For You Blue" gained sufficient radio airplay for Billboard to list the two songs together, as a double-sided hit,[20] when the record topped the magazine's Hot 100 chart.[21][22] The release was similarly treated as a double A-side when it topped Canada's singles chart in June,[23] and later when it peaked at number 6 on Australia's Go-Set national chart.[24] On the US listings compiled by Cash Box, which continued to monitor single-sides individually, "For You Blue" peaked at number 71.[25]

As one of Harrison's most successful songs on the Billboard charts,[26] "For You Blue" was among the seven Beatles tracks that Capitol Records selected for inclusion on the 1976 compilation The Best of George Harrison.[27] Recognising that its status as a US chart-topper was due to Billboard's policy at the time, however, Apple did not include the track on the Beatles' 1 compilation, released in 2000.[2][3]

Reception[edit]

Among contemporary reviews of Let It Be, Alan Smith of the NME described "For You Blue" as "another strong one from George, a whispery chunky rocker … 'Elmore James,' he calls out at one point, 'got nothin' on this baby!'"[28] Melody Maker's Richard Williams[18] described it as "an amusing trifle", citing Lennon's "camped-down bottleneck guitar" and the spoken reference to Elmore James.[1] Less impressed, John Gabree of High Fidelity magazine found the lap-steel playing the only point of interest on an "otherwise boring" track.[29]

In a 2003 review, for Mojo, John Harris highlighted "For You Blue" as one of the tracks that remained true to McCartney's original concept for a "return to the group's beginnings" with the Get Back project. Harris admired the song's "mesh of piano, acoustic guitar and lap steel" as "quietly wonderful".[30]

Live performances and cover versions[edit]

This song was part of the set during Harrison's Dark Horse Tour of North America in 1974.[31]

On 29 November 2002, McCartney sang this song at the Concert for George, a memorial concert for Harrison held on the first anniversary of his death.

When Mojo released Let It Be Revisited in 2010, Pete Molinari covered the track.[32]

Personnel[edit]

According to Ian MacDonald:[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sutherland, Steve (ed.) (2003). NME Originals: Lennon. London: IPC Ignite!. p. 75. 
  2. ^ a b c Fontenot, Robert. "The Beatles Songs: 'For You Blue' – The history of this classic Beatles song". oldies.about.com. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  3. ^ a b O'Toole, Kit (3 November 2012). "Deep Beatles: 'For You Blue' from Let It Be (1970)". Something Else!. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  4. ^ Inglis 2010, p. 14.
  5. ^ Harrison 2002, p. 156.
  6. ^ a b Pollack, Alan W. (1999). "Notes on 'For You Blue'". soundscapes.info. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  7. ^ Pedler 2003, p. 24.
  8. ^ Inglis 2010, p. 15.
  9. ^ Inglis 2010, pp. 14–15.
  10. ^ a b MacDonald 2005, p. 337.
  11. ^ Lewisohn 2005, p. 198.
  12. ^ Lewisohn 2005, p. 166.
  13. ^ Lewisohn 2005, p. 176.
  14. ^ The Beatles - A/B Road: The Complete Get Back Sessions, 24 January
  15. ^ Harrison 2002, p. 157.
  16. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, pp. 89–90.
  17. ^ Lewisohn 2005, p. 199.
  18. ^ a b Badman 2001, p. 8.
  19. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, p. 90.
  20. ^ Spizer 2003, p. 73.
  21. ^ Billboard staff (20 June 1970). "Billboard Hot 100 for week ending June 20, 1970". Billboard. p. 64. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  22. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, pp. 351–52.
  23. ^ Billboard staff (27 June 1970). "Billboard Hits of the World". Billboard. p. 61. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  24. ^ "Go-Set Australian charts – 19 September 1970". poparchives.com.au. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  25. ^ Hoffmann 1983, pp. 33–34.
  26. ^ Mapes, Jillian (5 February 2014). "George Harrison's 10 Biggest Billboard Hits". billboard.com. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  27. ^ Badman 2001, p. 197.
  28. ^ Smith, Alan (9 May 1970). "New LP Shows They Couldn't Care Less". NME.  Available at Rock's Backpages (subscription required).
  29. ^ Gabree, John (August 1970). "Review: The Beatles Let It Be; Paul McCartney McCartney; Ringo Starr Sentimental Journey". High Fidelity. p. 110. 
  30. ^ Harris, John (2003). "Let It Be: Can You Dig It?". Mojo: The Beatles' Final Years Special Edition. London: Emap. pp. 132–33. 
  31. ^ Leng 2006, pp. 168–69.
  32. ^ "Let It Be Revisited – Track Listing". Mojo Cover CDs. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 

Sources[edit]

  • Badman, Keith (2001). The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After the Break-Up 1970–2001. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-7119-8307-6. 
  • Castleman, Harry; Podrazik, Walter J. (1976). All Together Now: The First Complete Beatles Discography 1961–1975. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-25680-8. 
  • Harrison, George (2002). I, Me, Mine. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-5900-4. 
  • Hoffmann, Frank (1983). The Cash Box Singles Charts, 1950–1981. Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-1595-7. 
  • Inglis, Ian (2010). The Words and Music of George Harrison. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. ISBN 978-0-313-37532-3. 
  • Leng, Simon (2006). While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard. ISBN 978-1-4234-0609-9. 
  • Lewisohn, Mark (2005) [1988]. The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962–1970. London: Bounty Books. ISBN 978-0-7537-2545-0. 
  • MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3. 
  • Pedler, Dominic (2003). The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-7119-8167-6. 
  • Spizer, Bruce (2003). The Beatles on Apple Records. New Orleans, LA: 498 Productions. ISBN 0-9662649-4-0. 
  • Winn, John C. (2009). That Magic Feeling: The Beatles' Recorded Legacy, Volume Two, 1966–1970. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-307-45239-9. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Everything is Beautiful" by Ray Stevens
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
13 June 1970 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"The Love You Save" by The Jackson 5