For You Blue

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"For You Blue"
US picture sleeve
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
The Beatles US singles chronology
"Let It Be"
(1970)
"The Long and Winding Road"/
"For You Blue"
(1970)
"Got to Get You Into My Life"
(1976)

"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.

Background and composition[edit]

George Harrison wrote "For You Blue" in late 1968[2][3] as a love song to his wife Pattie Boyd.[4][5] 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!"[6] The song was also influenced by Harrison's stay in Woodstock in upstate New York, where he had enjoyed jamming with the Band and collaborating with Bob Dylan.[7]

"For You Blue" is in the key of D.[8] Aside from the introduction, it is one of the few original Beatles songs in which every section follows the traditional twelve bar blues (I-IV-V) pattern. The five-bar introduction deviates from the pattern due to its length and the inclusion of what musicologist Alan Pollack terms a "V-of-V" chord, namely E7 in the home key.[9] The song's bluesy feel 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.[10][nb 1] The composition comprises four verses[12] interspersed with instrumental passages.[9] 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.'"[13]

As reproduced in I, Me, Mine, Harrison's original handwritten lyrics show the song title as "For You Blues".[14] Its working title was "George's Blues (Because You're Sweet and Lovely)" when the Beatles recorded the song in late January 1969 for what became their Let It Be album.[15] It was renamed sometime between 10 March and 28 May, when the song was listed as "For You Blue" on the final mix for the unreleased Get Back album.[16]

Recording[edit]

A lap steel guitar. The song features Lennon soloing on a Höfner lap steel.

The Beatles recorded "For You Blue" at their Apple Studio in central London on 25 January 1969.[15][17] The song features Harrison on acoustic guitar and John Lennon playing lap steel guitar.[18] According to various commentators, Lennon used either a cigarette lighter, a shotgun shell – as favoured by Mississippi bluesman Elmore James[2] – or the standard slide that came with the Höfner lap steel.[19] To achieve Harrison's request for a "bad honky tonk piano" sound, Paul McCartney played the piano with paper intertwined between the strings.[20][21][nb 2] Ringo Starr contributed a drum part that, in musicologist Walter Everett's description, provides a "heavy backbeat" throughout the performance.[11]

After the abandoned Get Back film project was revived in January 1970, under the new title of Let It Be,[24] Harrison chose to re-record his lead vocal for the track.[25] The session took place at Olympic Sound Studios in south-west London on 8 January.[24] Harrison's ad-libbed comments during the instrumental breaks, including "Go, Johnny, go!" and a reference to Elmore James, originated from this overdubbing session also.[25]

When Phil Spector remixed the song for inclusion on the Let It Be album, on 30 March 1970,[26] he added a spoken introduction by Lennon: "Queen says no to pot-smoking FBI members."[2] This comment was edited in from dialogue recorded at Twickenham Film Studios in early January 1969, over two weeks before "For You Blue" was recorded.[27] Described by Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn as a "most interesting" idea, Spector created a tape loop of the song's instrumental break over which he inserted other items of dialogue from the film, including contrasting reactions from members of the public to the Beatles' Apple rooftop concert on 30 January 1969.[28] The tape was possibly intended to help promote Let It Be but never released.[25]

Release[edit]

Apple Records issued Let It Be, with "For You Blue" sequenced as the penultimate track, on 8 May 1970.[29][30] The release came four weeks after the Beatles' break-up and shortly before the premiere of the Let It Be documentary film.[31] The song's appearance in the film signalled the change of location for the troubled Get Back project, from Twickenham to Apple Studio.[32]

The song was selected as the B-side to "The Long and Winding Road", a single released in the United States on 11 May,[33] 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,[34] when the record topped the magazine's Hot 100 chart.[35][36] The release was similarly treated as a double A-side when it topped Canada's singles chart[37] and peaked at number 6 on Australia's Go-Set national chart.[38] On the US listings compiled by Cash Box, which continued to monitor single-sides individually, "For You Blue" peaked at number 71.[39]

As one of Harrison's most successful songs on the Billboard charts,[40] "For You Blue" was among the seven Beatles tracks that Capitol Records selected for inclusion on the 1976 compilation The Best of George Harrison.[41] 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!'"[42] Melody Maker's Richard Williams[31] considered it to be "an amusing trifle", citing Lennon's "camped-down bottleneck guitar" and the reference to 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.[43]

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".[44] While also considering the track to be in keeping with the band's intended back-to-basics approach, Justin Gerber of Consequence of Sound pairs it with "I Me Mine" as Harrison compositions that are "not bad, but pale in comparison to his offerings on [the White Album]".[45]

Live performances and cover versions[edit]

Dhani Harrison (pictured in 2010) was among the musicians who performed "For You Blue" at the Concert for George in 2002. He also recorded a cover of the track in 2013.

"For You Blue" was part of Harrison's set on his Dark Horse Tour of North America in 1974.[46] Harrison performed the song as a jam track during which he introduced the musicians in his tour band.[47] A live version, featuring solos by Robben Ford, Emil Richards and Willie Weeks – on guitar, percussive bells and bass, respectively[48] – appeared on the disc accompanying Songs by George Harrison, a limited-edition illustrated book published by Genesis Publications in 1988.[49]

On 29 November 2002, McCartney sang "For You Blue" at the Concert for George, held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on the first anniversary of Harrison's death.[50] McCartney was backed by a large band that included Starr, Eric Clapton, and Harrison's son, Dhani,[51] with Marc Mann playing slide guitar.[52]

Pete Molinari covered the song for Mojo's Let It Be Revisited CD, included with the October 2010 issue of the magazine.[53] In 2013, Dhani Harrison recorded the song as a charity release in aid of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and the Harrison family's Material World Charitable Foundation.[54]

Personnel[edit]

According to Ian MacDonald:[18]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Harrison uses a capo on the fifth fret of his guitar, allowing him to play chord shapes as if the song was a twelve-bar in the key of A.[11]
  2. ^ While neither Ian MacDonald nor Kenneth Womack list a bass guitar part in their respective credits for the track,[18][22] Harrison acknowledged in a 1987 interview with Creem that McCartney also played bass.[19][23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sutherland, Steve (ed.) (2003). NME Originals: Lennon. London: IPC Ignite!. p. 75. 
  2. ^ a b c d Fontenot, Robert. "The Beatles Songs: 'For You Blue' – The history of this classic Beatles song". oldies.about.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 August 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. ^ Williamson, Nigel (February 2002). "Only a Northern Song: The songs George Harrison wrote for The Beatles". Uncut. p. 61. 
  6. ^ Harrison 2002, p. 156.
  7. ^ Leng 2006, pp. 39, 40.
  8. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 494.
  9. ^ a b Pollack, Alan W. (1999). "Notes on 'For You Blue'". soundscapes.info. Retrieved 12 August 2016. 
  10. ^ Pedler 2003, p. 24.
  11. ^ a b Everett 1999, p. 233.
  12. ^ Inglis 2010, p. 15.
  13. ^ Inglis 2010, pp. 14–15.
  14. ^ Harrison 2002, p. 157.
  15. ^ a b Lewisohn 2005, p. 166.
  16. ^ Lewisohn 2005, p. 176.
  17. ^ Guesdon & Margotin 2013, p. 638.
  18. ^ a b c MacDonald 2005, p. 337.
  19. ^ a b Guesdon & Margotin 2013, p. 639.
  20. ^ Rowley, David (2013). All Together Now. Leicester, United Kingdom: Troubadour Publishing Ltd. p. 49. ISBN 978-178088-440-0. 
  21. ^ Hurwitz, Matt (1 January 2004). "The Naked Truth About The Beatles' Let It Be Naked". www.mixonline.com. NewBay Media, LLC. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  22. ^ Womack 2014, p. 283.
  23. ^ Kordosh, J. (January 1988). "Fab! Gear! The George Harrison Interview (part 2)". Creem.  Available at Rock's Backpages (subscription required).
  24. ^ a b Miles 2001, p. 367.
  25. ^ a b c Winn 2009, p. 363.
  26. ^ Lewisohn 2005, p. 198.
  27. ^ Lewisohn 2005, pp. 164, 198.
  28. ^ Lewisohn 2005, pp. 169, 198.
  29. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, pp. 89–90.
  30. ^ Lewisohn 2005, p. 199.
  31. ^ a b Badman 2001, p. 8.
  32. ^ Everett 1999, p. 232.
  33. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, p. 90.
  34. ^ Spizer 2003, p. 73.
  35. ^ Billboard staff (20 June 1970). "Billboard Hot 100 for week ending June 20, 1970". Billboard. p. 64. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  36. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, pp. 351–52.
  37. ^ Billboard staff (27 June 1970). "Billboard Hits of the World". Billboard. p. 61. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  38. ^ "Go-Set Australian charts – 19 September 1970". poparchives.com.au. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  39. ^ Hoffmann 1983, pp. 33–34.
  40. ^ Mapes, Jillian (5 February 2014). "George Harrison's 10 Biggest Billboard Hits". billboard.com. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  41. ^ Badman 2001, p. 197.
  42. ^ Smith, Alan (9 May 1970). "New LP Shows They Couldn't Care Less". NME.  Available at Rock's Backpages (subscription required).
  43. ^ Gabree, John (August 1970). "Review: The Beatles Let It Be; Paul McCartney McCartney; Ringo Starr Sentimental Journey". High Fidelity. p. 110. 
  44. ^ Harris, John (2003). "Let It Be: Can You Dig It?". Mojo Special Limited Edition: 1000 Days of Revolution (The Beatles' Final Years – Jan 1, 1968 to Sept 27, 1970). London: Emap. pp. 132–33. 
  45. ^ Gerber, Justin (25 September 2009). "The Beatles – Let It Be [Remastered]". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 10 August 2016. 
  46. ^ Leng 2006, pp. 168–69.
  47. ^ Leng 2006, p. 171.
  48. ^ Inglis 2010, p. 102.
  49. ^ Madinger & Easter 2000, pp. 447, 637–38.
  50. ^ Leng 2006, pp. 310, 311.
  51. ^ Doggett 2011, pp. 332–33.
  52. ^ Inglis 2010, p. 126.
  53. ^ "Let It Be Revisited". Mojo Cover CDs. Archived from the original on 10 February 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2016. 
  54. ^ Cubarrubia, R.J. (23 September 2013). "Dhani Harrison Embraces Dad's Song for Charity – Song Premiere". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 9 August 2016. 
  55. ^ Guesdon & Margotin 2013, pp. 638–39.

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. 
  • Doggett, Peter (2011). You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup. New York, NY: It Books. ISBN 978-0-06-177418-8. 
  • Everett, Walter (1999). The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver Through the Anthology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-512941-5. 
  • Guesdon, Jean-Michel; Margotin, Philippe (2013). All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release. New York, NY: Black Dog & Leventhal. ISBN 978-1-57912-952-1. 
  • 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. 
  • Madinger, Chip; Easter, Mark (2000). Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium. Chesterfield, MO: 44.1 Productions. ISBN 0-615-11724-4. 
  • Miles, Barry (2001). The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-8308-9. 
  • 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. 
  • Womack, Kenneth (2014). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-39171-2. 

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